SEN's Got A CMO?
"We are a company in transition. The management team now includes many more Americans, the senior executive team remains international, but our global headquarters will likely be in the U.S."
When you think of Siemens, what comes to mind? For most people, it isn't unified communications. Siemens conjures images of Appliances, medical equipment, even power plants. The firm is a European diversified giant.
What many don't realize is that Siemens Enterprise Communications is a different company.
Siemens Enterprise Communications, frequently referred to as SEN, is making more noise at industry events including the past several VoiceCons (now Enterprise Connect). It has also made several major management changes; including a new CEO, Hamid Akhavan, and Chris Hummel as the new Chief Marketing Officer.
The German diversified powerhouse is known as Siemens AG. In its portfolio were several communications products and services. In 2006, Siemens AG and Nokia merged their equipment divisions, which primarily target carriers. The enterprise-focused communication division was spun-out in 2008. This new firm, Siemens Enterprise Communications, is a joint venture between Siemens AG and majority stakeholder The Gores Group (U.S).
The end result is Siemens Enterprise Communications, a new, young, US based, multi-billion dollar global unified communications player. CEO Hamid Akhavan (formerly with Deutsche Telecom), was named last December; and Chris Hummel was named as CMO last April. I had the opportunity to sit down with Chris and this is what I learned:
DM: You've had leadership roles at well known and respected companies such as SAP and Oracle--what attracted you to SEN?
CH: When I got the opportunity, I asked some of my colleagues 'What do you know about this company?'. They all consistently came back with the same story; 'Great technology', 'Diamond in the rough', and 'Not very well known in the market’. As a marketing professional it looked as though this was a situation where I could have an impact. I have been through a number of transformations, and SEN is entering a significant transformational period into a much more market driven organization with a stronger presence. I investigated to see if the company had the right mentality from the board down to the staff levels to determine if this transformation had a real shot at success; and it does.
DM: A company known for weak marketing is either a great opportunity or waste of time for a CMO; what makes you think you can be effective?
CH: The reasons we have not been successful are fixable. It isn't turf battles or lack of recognition of what marketing does. After Hamid was named CEO, he quickly prioritized the need for a CMO to work with him on the strategy of our portfolio as well as with field issues, demand generation, pipe acceleration, and customer loyalty. It won't be instant, but there are some low-hanging-fruit opportunities. Hamid brings a lot of credibility to the mission, he is an industry heavyweight with extensive technical, business, and operational experience he gained as the COO of Deutsche Telecom.
DM: What is SEN's message?
CH: I will be frank, we have a lot of messages and each is optimized in their particular segment. We are trying to get a more consistent message nailed down. The history of the company comes from a carrier background, strong in reliability, innovation, and service. What we are trying to do on the product and offering side is to identify the core differentiators and the unique architectural elements that go across our voice, data, services, and new investment areas. We are taking a software approach to next generation technology shaped by open standards. We embed security into the core of our offerings. That is what we do and who we are. We are now in the process of packaging all that into revised core messaging.