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Siemens Throws in UC for Free...The New Model for Enterprise Communications

As Eric noted yesterday, Siemens has introduced new packages for its voice communications that include more advanced communications capabilities with the basic voice features one once would have purchased as a stand-alone product--for the same price as the voice technology alone. In my briefing with Siemens’ Ross Sedgewick, he emphasized that the vendor is making the change mainly to differentiate its offerings, both from the competition, and from its own legacy system, the HiPath 4000 (which gets a new migration path for users who want, eventually, to move to UC).

Buried in there, of course, is the desire to give customers a reason to move onto, or further along, the OpenScape platform. I don't think Siemens would actually care if its customers opted for the next-generation software because they want the embedded presence/chat, or two-party video, or unified messaging; the vendor just wants those customers to upgrade to the latest and greatest product offerings, and it's hoping that the bells and whistles will entice them to do so.

Siemens isn't alone in this, of course. Avaya, Microsoft and others have delivered a suite of applications in one "bundle" for quite some time. But what Siemens is doing is different, because the traditional "telephony" vendor is moving away from offering a straight-telephony option. A customer can buy a stand-alone voice application, but why would he? It costs the same as the souped up version, and a customer can always choose not to use the included additional features.

The new product line signals a transition in the enterprise communications market that I've been forecasting for a while now: At some point, unified communications is simply enterprise communications. They may choose to integrate certain features from other vendors--say, using Microsoft for presence and IM, and Siemens for voice and conferencing--but they will get a suite of capabilities from each vendor they do business with.

The redundant technology may seem wasteful, but at a certain point, there's really no reason not to include it in a license: Once you've developed the technology, there's no incremental cost to including it in a product suite--and there may be incremental gains, from services and support. Furthermore, doing so might well help customers get on board with UC sooner than they otherwise would (since they no longer have to justify it separately from voice communications); and, as protocols open and integration gets easier, bundling will give those same customers more choice, again without having to justify any additional spend.

We talk a lot on NoJitter and in the market about how and why customers should adopt UC, but the customers we're really talking about are early adopters. Everyone else will get UC eventually--it will simply come with their core communications technology.