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What Siemens needs to do now that it's re-branded as 'Unify'

Siemens Enterprise has an opportunity to do more than just look different.

Yesterday morning in New York and Munich, the company formerly known as Siemens Enterprise Communications unveiled its new logo, tag line and new vision. The new name is “Unify,” and you can see the logo on the website. The tag line for the company is “Harmonize Your Enterprise.” The colors for the company have changed as well. The all-caps blue Siemens logo has been replaced with a much more current logo with the “I” rendered in almost a glowing green color. Siemens Enterprise made some news earlier this year when it sold the networking division, Enterasys, to Extreme networks, meaning Unify will focus exclusively on unified communications and collaboration.

The anchor product of Unfiy is something called “Ansible,” which the company announced earlier this year and goes into beta in early 2014 and general availability by mid-year. Ansible is designed to be a flexible communications “fabric” (or “canvas,” as it’s been called) where users can collaborate better. This may look like one of the many, almost too many, “unified communication” platforms out there, but Ansible is significantly different that most of them.

First, the workplace is completely flexible. A worker could start with a chat, add a couple of individuals, kick the discussion over to video, bring a document in, and add another application all through a single workspace. Consider “traditional” UC, if there is such a thing, where chat, web conferencing, video communications and document sharing are all discrete applications that have very little integration between them. This is why virtual meetings today are so inefficient. A meeting with 10 individuals could have four people on audio only, maybe six people on the web conference, five people on video, etc. Heck, just the process of getting the virtual meeting initiated can take 5-10 minutes, putting everyone behind before the meeting even starts.

Ansible is a pure software platform that can connect users to other users or users to information much more efficiently than traditional platforms. One of the keys to success for Unify will be making Ansible appealing to developers and software vendors, and here is where the company needs to use of the mojo from the launch of the new brand and bring some new thinking in. If you talk to almost any UC vendor of any significant size, they’ll paint a picture of a world of communications-enabled applications. This makes sense on paper but, as an industry, we have very few good examples of these. Why is that? Well, it’s primarily because the developer interfaces and software tools aren’t very good. A typical UC vendor toolkit requires deep knowledge of telephony and CTI, which few “modern” developers have.

Another important shift in thinking is to be mobile-first. Mobile application development revolves around building lighter-weight, single-purpose applications that can be built in a matter of days. Legacy desktop applications are big engineering projects that take months to complete. The developer tools must enable apps to be made quickly and address specific problems, particularly when it comes to vertically specific applications.

So, along with the new name, logo and products comes the need to act, market and just differentiate itself from the rest of the UC industry. Siemens Enterprise and the rest of the UC industry has been steeped in legacy telecom issues that frankly few people care about anymore. I challenge Unify to be the UC vendor that throws stuff at the wall and see what sticks, rather than having to cross every t and dot every i before rolling out a product. Experiment with stuff, let customers do cool things.

In short, don’t just look different, be different.

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