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Following closely on the heels of several announcements for the company’s OpenScape UC Server 2010, last week Siemens Enterprise Communications launched Siemens OpenScape UC Suite 2011. The announcements each had a concrete theme around UC and collaboration, starting with laying the software foundation back in March 2010, the addition of social media into UC/Collaboration, and then the addition of open integration capabilities through OpenScape Fusion. OpenScape Fusion; a packaged integration solution, focused on UC integration and deployment for existing UC and other business applications, but with a highlighted spotlight on the addition of social media as well.
This new announcement doesn’t disappoint either. OpenScape UC Suite 2011 moves Siemens from being a UC vendor to a UC and collaboration (UCC) vendor, so one of the core themes was the addition of new collaboration offerings, with the intent, as Siemens framed it in their press release, of making rich, enterprise-grade, multimedia collaboration solutions as simple to use as sending an email. As part of this, Siemens also announced the acquisition of FastViewer GmbH & Co; a collaboration software provider.
Before moving onto what I consider to be the core theme of the announcement, here are a little more details about the FastViewer acquisition and why it is important in this release. FastViewer, founded in 2006 is a small, but very successful start-up in Germany, with an installed base of over 4,000 customers in twelve countries. FastViewer’s product line includes four products; one of which Siemens had been working with as an OEM since 2009. That product is now OpenScape Web Collaboration. The other three products are for remote teaching, remote support, and remote maintenance.
So why did Siemens pick FastViewer to begin with? For numerous reasons, including the fact that the company was very focused on customer value and customer satisfaction, and had built all of their products to be very open, just like Siemens. Siemens also considered the products to be innovative and highly differentiated, very secure and scalable. All have both premise and SaaS offerings, and have zero footprint requirements, with no software required as a download on the client. With OpenScape Web Collaboration, for example, there is no configuration for either the person who is setting up a conference or any invited participants. It is simply a slim application that uses an executable that disappears at the end of the conference.
Siemens Enterprise Communications’ plans for the FastViewer product line is to incorporate the other pieces into the company’s contact center portfolio, as well as take over management of the SaaS offering. Initially, Siemens will be offering the products in the countries where they currently operate, but will expand this globally.
However, new collaboration solutions and FastViewer really weren’t the core theme of what I consider to be an important release for the company. There is a reason why Siemens used the word "open" when naming OpenScape, and why it considered "open" a core value in FastViewer. Open is something the company has worked hard at during the whole redesign of the Siemens product line, and it is a key component in the announcement of OpenScape UC Suite 2011 Edition. It is a word that speaks to customers that seek to integrate disparate applications together, but open was just one of eight words that should all resonate with customers, and the combination of the eight was the real theme of this announcement.
The eight words are open, fast, easy, affordable, comprehensive, secure, scalable and reliable. Big deal and so much marketecture you might say, but unified communications and collaboration applications historically are a different beast than let’s say, the PBX and contact center. When the PBX and contact center were first developed they weren’t aimed at consumers. With UC and collaboration, a lot of functions came from the contact center, but also drew from consumer-focused solutions as well. Plus there were solutions for both consumers and enterprises. So, Siemens took a look at the competitive landscape for UC and collaboration solutions; what is being offered from vendors to enterprises, and what is available to consumers; and decided that there were highly desirable attributes in both camps and so sought to differentiate by delivering on both.
For example, while collaboration solutions are widely available, compared to other applications within UC, they are slower to be adopted. To increase adoption, Siemens wanted to make it quick and easy and affordable for customers, as collaborative point solutions are for consumers, yet still be enterprise grade, which means feature rich, secure, reliable and scalable. Typically enterprise solutions have a lot of features, including security, and provide scalability and reliability, but at a cost in time and money. OpenScape Web Collaboration, as I pointed out above, has all eight of the attributes Siemens wanted to deliver.
In addition to the new web collaboration solution, Siemens added important new functionality to the company’s UC solutions, including VMWare virtualization, and a new UC desktop that provides multi-party desktop video conferencing in an open, multivendor, video ecosystem. This will allow users to have video conferences simultaneously using different vendors, including Polycom, Lifesize and Tandberg. Finally, Siemens added over 20 phone-based applications to increase productivity. OpenScape PhoneApps, for the OpenStage device models 60 and 80, are pre-built applications for the phone that can be loaded in about a minute. They include things like a buddy list status, weather widget, or a text-to-speech converter, etc. There is also an easy-to-use application builder and a comprehensive SDK for custom phone-based application development.
When we were briefed on the new enhancements and the work Siemens had done in designing and developing the release, it all made perfect sense. Those eight words seemed to encompass the best of the consumer and enterprise goals. The briefing included user case studies on how companies are reducing costs or enhancing productivity and collaboration. To really prove their differentiation it is now up to Siemens to deliver on those words and show us feedback from many customers telling us how these new enhancements have worked.
This paper is sponsored by Siemens.
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Communications Integrated to Optimize Business Processes.
UC integrates real-time and non-real time communications with business processes and requirements.
Uses presence capabilities for coordination, and presents a consistent unified user interface and experience across multiple devices and media types.
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