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Siemens Enterprise Begins Revving its Engine

SEN will finally roll out its new branding in the fall, as it also debuts its new UC&C platform.

Twenty months ago, I sat down with Siemens Enterprise CEO Hamid Akhavan in Munich and he outlined three priorities for the business: financial stability, portfolio rationalization and marketing/brand revitalization. Akhavan believed that the financial and portfolio issues were well in-hand and that marketing was up next. Originally scheduled for October 2012, Siemens pulled the plug on the re-brand in September, as detailed in Eric Krapf's piece Economic Uncertainties Delaying Siemens Enterprise Relaunch.

At its analyst meeting this week in Denver, Siemens set a new date for the re-branding of the company (October 2013)--and more than one senior executive said both publicly and privately, "This time it WILL happen."

There may have been more behind the postponement than European economic conditions. As Chief Commercial Officer Chris Hummel said in his remarks this week, Siemens set out to become (more) market-driven and believed they had succeeded by the end of 2011. But was that enough? It clearly wasn't for this management team. The next line from Hummel was, "We aspire to be market-making."

Two years ago, a next-generation development team was established at Siemens Enteprise with a name made public this week, Project Ansible. The resulting new platform is "designed to extend the power of unified communications through full aggregation across social software, business applications, video, analytics and traditional voice communication while also introducing an exceptional user experience."

What is the meaning of the term Ansible and where did it come from? The term originates from a plot device used in science fiction and sometimes used as the name for an instantaneous or superluminal interstellar communications machine that could send and receive messages to and from a corresponding device over any distance and time. In presenting the concept, Hummel stressed the superluminal characteristic--Siemens hopes Project Ansible will allow them to outshine competitors.

While analysts were given fairly in-depth demos of the current iteration of the solution, we were also sworn to secrecy about its specific characteristics or screen-shots. That said, some of what can be shared warms my heart as a former market researcher. Siemens detailed how they have developed the Project Ansible technology based on "extensive research and thousands of interactions with customer and industry experts." I can't count the number of times I have been presented with new solutions by technology vendors who cannot answer the question, "Was any primary market research done to test the market for this?"

Hummel had a senior member of the project team join him on stage to discuss the development process, which while interesting was overshadowed by his next guest. An architect of a major global carrier took to the stage to describe how he has been working with Siemens on Project Ansible, as well as his enthusiasm for what he had seen so far and its potential relevance to his company's enterprise customers.

Siemens expects to begin first customer pilots by the end of 2013, and will be unveiling more detail about Project Ansible to the market in mid-July. Coupled with the re-branding of Siemens Enterprise in late-October, this week's announcement is the beginning of a story that will be played out over several months. Stay tuned to No Jitter for more information as it is unveiled.

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