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Recently, I did a piece about Cisco’s acquisitions of FiveAcross and its business implication. I promised to do another one detailing how FiveAcross’s Connect Community Builder adds social networking capabilities to sites like NHL.com from a user point of view.

I created my NHL Connect personal page and instantly, it made me feel like a part of the fan community. Bear in mind that my only hockey knowledge is the great Wayne Gretzky and the Sharks. When the browser is in the “NHL Connect View”, the left panel carries a MSN-messenger-like portal that contains a collection of standard social networking tools, such as RSS, blog, message board, video streaming and etc. My favorite feature is the video sharing because nothing says how good your favorite hockey player is than a video of a few between-the-legs maneuvers and some great goals.

What I like the most about NHL Connect is the simplicity of the look-and-feel and ease of use. Although, it took me a while to figure out how to embed video streams. These seemingly straightforward tasks (for someone who is savvy with social networking sites) might come as a challenge for a regular hockey fan. And these are exactly the cool features that separate fans.nhl.com from a regular NHL forum.

Going back to Cisco’s strategy with FiveAcross. Cisco is identifying consumers’ demand for social networking capabilities on enterprise websites, and is expecting enterprises to embrace it like other consumer tools such as instant messaging.

As Cisco moves into this new market, it faces possible future competitors like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, which either own social-networking sites or offer tools to help build social networking into Web sites. So far, these companies have focused on allowing people to add social-networking features to their personal blogs and Web sites instead of developing a comprehensive solution for large enterprises. Cisco is smart to stay with its familiar territory of large enterprises while moving into the consumer market.

As an end note, other than NHL.com, FiveAcross’s client roster also includes DailyComedy.com and Alloy.com. Its competitors are the likes of BroadbandMechanics.com.

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