Great Intranets Part II: Cisco Systems

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

Part II of a four part series on great intranets.

The Cisco intranet, called Cisco Employee Connection (CEC), is now 20 years old, and supports a workforce of more than 100,000 (75,000 full-time employees plus contractors).

“The intranet connects everyone to everything, from employee services tools such as HR benefits, IT support and workplace resources to corporate news, market intelligence, product information, and small team collaboration,” says Heather Gallegos, Senior Manager, Internal Communication Channels.

“Employees can access the intranet on their desktops and mobile devices when on campus or via VPN. We’ve recently added several mobile applications that provide direct access to the most frequently used tools like expense reporting and recording paid time off.”

Cisco intranet home page

Cisco intranet home page 2014

Cisco’s User Capability Framework provides the strategy for the corporate intranet and contains eight “epic focuses” (all with action plans):

  • Act
  • Connect
  • Find
  • Organize
  • Communicate
  • Consume
  • Interact
  • Share


Specifically, the Cisco intranet has five main pillars (or strategic thrusts):

  1. Video – High-quality interaction from anywhere, real time and offline (over 80 internal live broadcasts every month via Cisco TV; 300 videos uploaded very month via “Cisco Show and Share”
  2. Mobile – Secure access to information and people from any device, anywhere
  3. Social – Expertise and information location, proactive interaction
  4. Apps – Easy and intuitive access to transactional systems
  5. Content – millions of pages (though the main CEC intranet has no content management system, and is custom built, Cisco is considering Adobe Communique which powers

The CEC intranet also features:

  • Hundreds of workplace applications
  • 20,000 online communities
  • 57 internal mobile apps delivered through a consolidated internal e-Store including:
    • Cisco Maps (buildings, meeting rooms, etc.)
    • My Approvals (Managers approving leave applications, benefits, etc.)
  • An extremely robust employee social platform



Where once the focus of the intranet was on applications and news, the focus is now social. Similarly, Cisco intranet resources and strategy shifted to the “social intranet” powered by their own social intranet technology, WebEx Social. While funding for the main intranet has declined in recent years (like most corporate intranets since 2008) more budget and resources have been directed towards social applications, namely the WebEx Social platform.

“We’re not feeling the love with the budgets,” jokes Gallegos, speaking at the Intranet Global Forum 2014 at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. In other words, funding for the main Cisco intranet has slowed since 2008 (but she admits, not unlike the economy, the funding is slowly coming back).

Cisco intranet WebEx Social home 2014

Cisco intranet WebEx Social home 2014

The social component of the intranet, highlighted as a primary link called WebEx Social, in the main, global navigation, the employee user accesses the full social platform which features:

  • Unified Post – a simplified way to share content and create and post any type of content (including blogs, wikis, text, documents, images, hyperlinks, and videos), and attach large files
  • Bi-Directional Email – social collaboration while in email: create a post or start a discussion forum directly from email; reply to a post or discussion thread using email; receive an email notification when somebody sends or replies to a post
  • Unified Communications – one-click access to real-time collaboration tools including chat, email, and the ability for users to initiate and participate in browser-based high definition phone and video calls
  • Enterprise Social Networking – expert finder, expert Q&A, tagging, social graphing, activity streams, search, and “Suggestions” which analyzes social activities to make personalized recommendations on people, posts, and communities


Gallegos says virtually all Cisco employees are using the social components, but only about 20% contribute to social media (creating or commenting; not counting “Liking”) and 80% are pure social consumers.

Intranet metrics

Cisco intranet traffic:

  • 7-8 million page views per month on traditional intranet, CEC (5.3 million visits)
  • 1.5-2 million page views per month on WebEx Social
  • 150,000 active communities (one-third are active)


The most used part of the intranet? The Employee Directory, followed by Search, and the top, main global navigation categories, including WebEx Social.

“For Cisco, a successful intranet must create value for the business, such as increased employee productivity, business process transformation, and cost reduction,” says Gallegos. “However, the push today toward social business, global collaboration, and mobility require that the corporate intranet strategy broaden its focus to include user-capability-driven design, governance, and enterprise content management.
Some notable success metrics include:

  • Accelerated time-to-market by 12–18 months through global collaboration (in engineering)
  • US$120,000 saved per major event through shared information and collaboration (in marketing)
  • Increased customer satisfaction (in services)
  • 80% decrease in internal emails (within the IT operation; variable results in other areas)
  • 50% less time spent on requests for quotations (in supply chain)


“Measuring and tracking ROI for our entire intranet investment is a future goal,” add Gallegos. ”A strategy that incorporates these aspects to achieve measured business value goals will find success. Is it easy? Nope. Are we fully there yet? Nope. But this is the path we are on.”

Read Great Intranets Part I: Unisys

The DIRECTV intranet will be featured in the next installment of Great Intranets, and featured during a live webinar The DIRECTV social intranet case study presentation May 21, 2014 at 12:30pm EDT. Registration is free.

Toby Ward is the Founder and Chair of the Intranet Global Forum conferences, and CEO and Founder of Prescient Digital Media and Social Business Interactive. Toby’s global clients include Harvard, HSBC, Mastercard, Pepsi, Sony, USAA and dozens of others.


Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn