Cisco to Acquire IMImobile

by Dave Michels

A day before WebexOne, Cisco Collaboration announces its intent to acquire IMImobile.  The purchase price is approximately $730M USD.

Analysts were briefed on the upcoming announcements at WebexOne last week, but there were clearly a few gaps in the story especially around contact center. Acquisitions are always top secret until they aren’t.

Back in February, at one of the only in-person analyst events this year, it was communicated that CCaaS was a top priority for the collaboration unit. However, the pandemic had different ideas and good ol videoconferencing stole the show. [Evan and I talked about video with Sri last April in this TalkingHeadz podcast.]  Well, it appears that contact center did remain a top priority after-all. Javed Khan, the leader of Collab Unit said they have had hundreds of engineers developing the new, cloud-native CCaaS solution.

Developing rather than buying a CCaaS solution is not trivial. The advantage of building it is a tighter integration with the existing technologies and architectures at Cisco. The disadvantage is time. Particularly something like omnichannel, and that’s where IMImobile fits in. This looks a bit similar to NICE inContact acquiring Brand Embassy last year. IMImobile’s omnichannel capabilities facilitate customer interactions on whatever channel the customer prefers (including Apple Business Chat, WhatsApp, and Google RCS). IMImobile also provides Cisco the ability to alter workflows with low code orchestration capabilities. Curiously, IMImobile also brings to Cisco some CPaaS capabilities.

IMImobile’s Customer Interaction Management (CIM) suite automates, orchestrates and monitors interactions with disparate back-end systems. Its customers include AA, Best Buy, BT, Capitec Bank, Centrica, EE, Hermes, IHG, Mercedes, Orange, O2, Vodafone and Walgreens.  IMImobile is a global business with offices across the UK, USACanadaIndiaSouth Africa and UAE. With over 1,100 employees, shares are traded on the London Stock Exchange with the TIDM code IMO.

The acquisition is consistent with two key themes from Cisco Collaboration this year: velocity and risk. Cisco Collaboration is operating much faster than in the past. There has been a steady flow of major announcements from the collaboration team for the past several months (November excluded as it prepares for WebexOne).  There’s also a new willingness to take on risk. The team acknowledges it got behind in a few areas and wants to shed its conservative approach to collaboration.

From what I know about WebexOne, the gaps are closing. It now appears Cisco is going to make a big bet on CCaaS (and a few other areas too). I expect the CCaaS pieces will complement prior acquisitions such as Cloud Cherry and Tropo — all under the Webex brand.

In the last Insider Report I covered the CCaaS Magic Quadrant and pointed out that the CCaaS provider landscape is mostly small companies (AWS is the major exception. and it’s causing waves).  I predicted that we are going to see some major changes, and this could be the first one.