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Cisco Not Done With Social Spending

Cisco Systems' social media spending spree isn't over yet. The company this week said it bought select assets of privately held Utah Street Networks, the operator of the social networking site Tribe.net and is on the lookout for more.

The proprietary software infrastructure that Utah Street Networks uses to create and maintain online communities on the Tribe.net Web site is what Cisco specifically wanted, so the deal does not include Tribe.net, which will remain independent. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Cisco  will integrate its software purchase into the Cisco Media Solutions Group (CMSG) in its effort to offer infrastructural solutions that will help customers deliver more compelling content experiences for their own end-users, Eric Chan, the group's strategy and marketing director, told internetnews.com.

Joining Utah Street in the CMSG will be technology that Cisco acquired in its February acquisition of social networking firm Five Across. The technology, Connect Community Builder, is a white-label platform that allows companies to augment their Web sites with communities and user-generated content, such as audio-, video- and photo-sharing, blogs, podcasts and profiles.

John Noh, a Cisco spokesman, told internetnews.com that the company plans to follow up its recent acquisitions with additional "Web. 2.0" technologies to help push the "consumerization of the enterprise." But, he added, CMSG's next acquisitions might involve social media technology other than social networking.

However, Chan said it was hard to ignore the impact social media sites such as YouTube, MySpace and Facebook were having on the consumer space. Now, the group is convinced the same Web 2.0 technology behind those properties can help Cisco's customers get to know their own customers even better.

For example, Chan said a company such as Mattel could more easily learn what kind of new Barbie dolls to sell if it developed a social network for its customers. He said observing their behavior online would be more effective than any surveys or focus groups.

Chan said the success of chat, IM, VoIP and video in the enterprise space only fuels CMSG's optimism.

Optimism that has Cisco making plans to get its wallet out.