Cisco announced Sparkboard and its nice. If it works as promised (a reasonable caveat and a very big ‘if’), then maybe we will see an intelligent whiteboard that actually works. I’ve never seen a working intelligent whiteboard nor ever heard of one.
Cisco has lots of information about the product so I won’t bore you with repeating the marketing.
Lets dig in to the pricing a little :
|Upfront||Recurring||Non-adjusted 5 Year Price|
|Spark Board – 2 units per 100 users||9980||398/month||$24000|
|Spark Board Installation||5000||$5000|
|Spark User Licenses – 100 users||12/month||$72,000|
|Spark deployment – $25 per seat||2500||$2500|
You could add something for connections to the wireless network since it might need upgrading. And WAN bandwidth may or may not be a concern so some cost associated with verification and QoS may be needed.
For a company with 100 employees deploy a Cisco Spark and couple of boards is going to cost around $20000 per year or $200 per person.
Is this viable ?
You can improve staff communication and productivity through a tool like Spark as the success of Slack has certainly demonstrated this. Spark is still very basic and limited in it functions compared to Slack which has many rich integrations and wide range of partners. Its also 50% cheaper.
There are many products that use Slack as a platform and Cisco needs to work hard to catch up in terms of partnerships but its size gives it momentum. Importantly, Cisco can “refresh the installed base” of telephony and conferencing customers with this product and may be able to market share from this alone.
On the whole, it’s doubtful that Cisco can out-compete a nimbler startup like Slack that is focussed totally on collaboration. And don’t forget that other competitors from Microsoft Skype etc are yet to emerge.