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Cisco adds four to advisory lineup

Cisco Systems is endorsing software from four vendors to boost employee productivity through online, self-service applications.

    Expanding its advisory role, Cisco Systems is endorsing software from four vendors to boost employee productivity through online, self-service applications.

    Cisco's announcement, due next week, comes from its new Internet Business Solutions Group, which is charged with taking Cisco's own experiences doing business online and recommending software and processes to Cisco customers. Cisco collects no revenue for its advisory services but hopes increased use of online processes will boost demand for its core networking hardware.

    Winning Cisco's seal of approval are workforce optimization software from PeopleSoft for human resources, Ariba Technologies for procurement, Extensity for expense reports and time billing, and Oblix for creating and managing employee directories.

    "The ultimate goal is to create empowered, knowledgeable employees," said Steve Bernstein, solutions product manager for Cisco. "It's not just to provide information and knowledge, but also to provide tools for employees to get the job done."

    Selecting these vendors is the second area of emphasis within Cisco's Internet Business Solutions Group, announced in December. Last month Cisco similarly endorsed e-commerce software from BroadVision, InterWorld, and Open Market.

    In both announcements, Cisco stresses working with the software vendors to make their applications more "network-aware" so they would be optimized to work with Cisco's hardware. Much of the Internet and many corporate networks already run on Cisco routers, and the company hopes endorsing software applications, ones it already uses internally, will increase demand for Cisco products.

    Although technology sales are part of the new solutions, Bernstein said, Cisco's approach emphasizes changing processes and corporate cultures. "The technology is almost the easy part," he said.

    Cisco's sales force is being trained in the new e-commerce and worker productivity applications and will advise customers which applications are most appropriate for them. Cisco also will help manage implementations, but sales will be made by the software companies and consulting partners KPMG and Ernst & Young.