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At ITExpo in Austin, Chris Hummel sat down with Blair Pleasant to discuss how Siemens Enterprise Communications views the UC market, and how the company is adapting to keep ahead of the changing market.
Blair Pleasant: Hi. This is Blair Pleasant. I’m here at the IT Expo in Austin and with me is Chris Hummel. Chris is Chief Commercial Officer at Siemens Enterprise Communications. So Chris, you just gave one of the keynotes, and it was wonderful, by the way.
Chris Hummel: Thank you.
Blair: I was tweeting away... You talked about the state of the unified communications market. Tell us a little bit about where you see the market and why.
Chris: Well, it’s interesting because Unified Communications has been around for probably a decade and we’ve tried really hard to capture this promise of bringing all the different communications pieces together to give us a way for individuals to actually access all the different channels. They have video, voice, conferencing, emailing, whatever; and we just haven’t really been able to do it. It just hasn’t worked yet. It’s been too hard to deliver it. And so what happens now is that everybody needs to actually – the vendors, the companies, everybody assessing it – needs to focus not so much on the IT problems, but extending beyond the IT and actually thinking about, what do I want to get out the UC? What’s my objective out it and how can I actually go back and capture the promise of what is now probably a little bit of a tainted word.
Blair: You had referred to – you’ve coined something, you said, “We moved from ports to people. So it’s not about phone lines but about empowering people.”
Chris: That’s right.
Blair: Can you expand on that?
Chris: We historically come from the carrier side of the business. We have been focused on telephony for – or Enterprise Communications – for 160 years. Since the telegraph. And for the last several decades, probably, particularly the last decade, we’ve been focused on selling ports – the plug in the wall of the telephone line. And our goal, our objective as a commercial entity was really to just capture as many enterprise phone lines as possible. We would then put more services, more applications, more everything on top of that port and that’s how we would make our money. And what we’ve kind of discovered, too late, too early, I don’t know, but the reality is we’ve come to recognize that that’s not the value we bring to this market. That’s not the value any of us should, any of us vendors, should bring to this market. The real emphasis has to be on building an ecosystem of communication services around the individual, because that’s the piece that really drives the value, right? So...we’ve been focused on ports, that’s a very narrow view. Communications has revolutionized and expanded long around the port: social media, mobility, all these kind of things. Now what we need to do is focus on empowering the individuals. The workers. The information workers. The employees. The individuals. Where they can actually, now, as I said, have this ecosystem around them. So whereas the value in our strategic message was to go after ports historically, our mantra now is to drive off of empowering people.
Blair: You also talked about the joy of use. Talk about that. I loved that.
Chris: It’s interesting. Historically, just like in sort of the general commercial world, military applications always used to come in and then they would do all the development in the military and then move them over to the civilian applications. Historically, enterprises have always had the neatest, greatest, most advanced technology; and then it’s eventually filtered its way down into the consumer space. It’s all reversed now. The consumer devices are actually now driving more of the innovation and more of this user experience. So what that means is, consumer devices are driving a user that isn’t just worried about functionality. They’re actually worried about enjoying the experience. And that joy of use is no longer something that you don’t expect from your applications at work or your communications at work. You actually have to, as an IT professional, as a CIO, you have to deliver systems that people want to use. One CIO coined it to me, he said, “I want to delight my users.” That’s what we think all CIOs should do it.
Blair: Tell me about what Siemens is doing these days, Siemens Enterprise Communications, and how you’re adapting to the changing market.
Chris: We’re really looking at shifting a lot of our business – I talked about the ports to people as kind of an equation as our focus. We’re shifting much more now toward software-based solutions. We have for quite a while. And what software solutions allow us to do is to extend even further the openness that has always been a part of our DNA. Because now, in these kind of more IT deployments, we can actually connect the software applications from the communications side with all the other parts of your business and really integrate into the way you work. So that’s one thing that’s definitely changing. Then also, connected with that, allows us to explore many more deployment options. So historically, obviously, telephony has been, “put a big switch in, plug a bunch of lines into it.” Now you get into, “well, let’s host it from somewhere else.” Now you get into “real public cloud deployment,” so we have an offering with partners like Ingram Micro and Votela, and so on to actually offer a public cloud service. The combination of all those things together really supports what we think the fundamental deployment model’s going to be going forward, which is hybrid. Which is a mix. We don’t think anybody’s going to go just for one or the other. And that sort of backs up this assumption that everything is going to be heterogeneous as well. As much as I would love them to buy everything from Siemens, the reality is that’s not going to happen. They’re going to buy a lot from us and hopefully more. But that’s how we’re adapting, is really by shifting the approach in the delivery model, what in the marketing parlance we would call the consumption model. So you start delivering through app stores and these kinds of things what would have more traditionally been very big bulky applications, and moving to new deployment models like cloud and hybrid and private clouds.
Blair: Thank you so much, and congratulations on a wonderful keynote.
Chris: Thank you very much.
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