Brian Riggs
Brian is a member of Ovum's Enterprise team, tracking emerging trends, technologies, and market dynamics in the unified communications and...
Read Full Bio >>

Brian Riggs | April 03, 2012 |


A Closer Look at Siemens' Video Play

A Closer Look at Siemens' Video Play In his Enterprise Connect keynote, SEN exec Chris Hummel produced a video camera from his jacket pocket. But where does it really come from, and what's the strategy for it?

In his Enterprise Connect keynote, SEN exec Chris Hummel produced a video camera from his jacket pocket. But where does it really come from, and what's the strategy for it?

Enterprise Connect keynoters showcased new products and services in the works at their respective companies. Microsoft's Kirk Koenigsbauer teased the audience about Lync-Skype integration without actually providing anything in the way of details about it. Brett Shockley, while laying out a framework for cloud solutions, slipped in the fact that the Avaya is about to launch a hosted UC service for small businesses. OJ Winge from Cisco unveiled a new, improved immersive TelePresence system to sit alongside (and hopefully one day replace, but the company is not actually committing to this) its existing T3 and CTS 3000 systems. And Alistair Rennie tried to get Enterprise Connect attendees still sorting out the implications of unified communications onboard with IBM's new social business message.

But Microsoft talking up Lync, IBM marketing social, and Cisco praising the virtues of telepresence...these aren't exactly eyebrow raisers. It was the Siemens Enterprise keynote that threw something of a zinger. Personally, I was expecting some news about the long-awaited "global relaunch that will feature the introduction of a new name, logo, and positioning." Instead, in his keynote, Siemens Enterprise President-North America/CMO Chris Hummel announced a video camera.

Granted, cameras are a necessary component of any video conferencing solution. You need cameras on laptops, cameras in conference rooms, cameras on tablets and smart phones, cameras in telepresence studios. But cameras are commodity items, and UC solutions developers like Siemens Enterprise usually leave it up to partners like Polycom, LifeSize, Logitech, and others to provide them.
CMO Chris Hummel with Siemens Enterprise's as-yet unnamed video end point

Hummel described the device that he pulled from his pocket as having an HDMI connection to either a TV or a PC monitor. It will be SIP-enabled, provide plug and play connectivity, connect to Ethernet and wireless networks, encrypt calls from end to end, and support both high definition and audio (the latter via built-in 16kHz speakers).

After the keynote, I went to the Siemens Enterprise booth and met with David Moss, who had a couple of the devices on display and elaborated on some of Hummel's comments. Moss noted that the video end point will deliver 720p video at 30 frames per second (there's the high-def quality Hummel mentioned), requiring 2 Mbps of network bandwidth or less to do so. It will auto-register to an OpenScape Voice server (there's the plug-n-play), use the OpenScape SBC for security, leverage the soft MCU in OpenScape Video for multipoint conferences (otherwise conferences are point to point), require a VDI adapter to connect to a PC's monitor, and will be controllable from an OpenStage phone, a UC GUI, or a remote control device. So it sounds like a fairly sizable investment in Siemens Enterprise products will be required. That said, Moss explained that it will be able to connect with Cisco, Polycom, and LifeSize video end points, as well as video clients from Google and Skype. This will help it fit into businesses with existing investments in video conferencing technology.

One of the things that Moss really wanted to impress on me was that the new camera was not for "video conferencing," but rather for "video-enabled UC." I didn't ask for a lot of detail around how he is spitting those particular hairs, but at least part of his point seemed to be that he expects the new camera to be used less in traditional conference-room type scenarios and more in verticals like healthcare and hospitality. As examples, he mentioned telemedicine, where the device would sit on home-bound patients' TVs; and virtual concierges, where a monitor would let hotel guests speak with staff located off site.

This sounds a lot like the business applications that Cisco partners were beginning to lay out for umi, Cisco's now-defunct consumer telepresence device. I suppose this isn't surprising since Siemens Enterprise's new video end point also seems like it might have its origins in the consumer market. The gadget on display at Enterprise Connect looked identical to Biscotti, Inc.'s, $199 HD video conferencing device named after the dunkable treat it's shaped like. (More on Biscotti here and here.). I asked Siemens where the new product comes from, but the company says it isn’t ready to comment on its heritage much less confirm if it is, in fact, OEMed from the Biscotti device.


If you check those links in the previous paragraph, don't read the Biscotti reviews too closely, since Siemens Enterprise is in the process of modifying the hardware (assuming we're dealing with the same device). Or maybe it's Biscotti that's developing new hardware. Again, I'm still unclear on the exact relationship, if there is any, between the Biscotti and Siemens gadgets. Though the display unit at Siemens' Enterprise Connect booth seemed to be identical to the Biscotti doodad (made for TVs, built-in speaker, Wifi only, Google compatible, 720p video, etc.), Moss said his company will go to market with a version that has an Ethernet port and other modifications that the display unit didn't have.

Siemens Enterprise will also, of course, modify the target market. The company won't be going after consumers, which turned out to be such a losing proposition for Cisco...and even Logitech and Google are struggling to build up much consumer interest in their Revue-Google TV combo. But Siemens Enterprise will have to make this applicable to more than just the telemedicine and remote concierge applications that Moss mentioned to me. These are vertical-specific niches that developers of video conferencing systems have been going after for years and years. There's no reason that Siemens Enterprise can't also target them with more of an end-to-end video conferencing solution than it currently possesses. But for now I'm going to need more proof points that the Siemens Enterprise camera is the "future of video conferencing" that the company claims it to be.

Follow me on Twitter!


October 24, 2018

With disparate workplaces and ever-expanding volumes of information to manage, the challenges for collaborating effectively are only intensifying. Many critical applications are not integrated, and

October 10, 2018

Businesses are growing across international borders quicker than ever, but scaling operations to follow suit can be a harder, longer process.

This webinar focuses on scaling your next-generat

September 26, 2018

Join Kevin Kieller, Microsoft UC&C expert, along with Ribbon Communications and Polycom, for an update on Microsoft Ignite, and a focus on critical things you need to know about your voice deployme

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.