At the Siemens Enterprise Communication analyst conference, the company previewed a new enterprise communications and collaboration platform, code named Project Ansible. Chief Commercial Office Chris Hummel gives some insights into Project Ansible and what it's all about.
Transcript for Chris Hummel Discusses Project Ansible
Blair Pleasant: Hi, this is Blair Pleasant, and I am in Denver with Siemens Enterprise Communications, and with me is Chris Hummel. Chris is Chief Commercial Officer and President, North America. And today was a very exciting day. Siemens introduced something very exciting; at least I am very excited about it. So Chris, tell us about what you are announcing.
Chris Hummel: Today we announced here at our Analyst Summit in Denver, Colorado, project Ansible. Project Ansible is a new, next-generation solution for us that extends Unified Communications and starts to bring in social business, starts to bring in content management and business applications, all under one experience.
Blair: Project Ansible, that’s kind of a weird name. Can you back up and tell us where that came from?
Chris: We have a little bit of the propeller head in our DNA; as a company we’re clearly engineers. So we looked for something that was actually going to give us an aspirational feel, something that was actually going to introduce this element of striving for something far beyond what was normally capable today. And so Ansible, if you look it up in Wikipedia or wherever, is a plot device that is often used in science fiction novels. And it started back in the late sixties—
Blair: Ursula Le Guin, I heard.
Chris: Yes, that’s correct. What happens is, a plot device, a physical phone or a box or something with a keyboard or a handset attached, would be a device capable of superliminal communication. Now there is another term to go look up in Wikipedia, but it essentially meant that you would have the ability to instantaneously communicate across any distance. So interplanetary, intergalaxy, all this kind of stuff. We were sparked by this whole concept of the way that science fiction often tries to reimagine the way people live, operate, work, communicate. And we saw this as an opportunity to really step forward and say, hey this is kind of fun, it is a little bit of that propeller head engineer geek thing, but it allowed us to also recognize the aspirations we had to create something that was really transcendent.
Blair: And if we bring in more sci-fi, we can relate it to the TARDIS and say it’s bigger on the inside.
Chris: Yes, well it’s interesting because we were having this debate about “Star Trek” and that “Star Trek” had reimagined everything possible in the way we work except communication, because you are still basically talking on a mobile phone on your communicator. And we are all kind of excited about this new movie out, “Pacific Rim,” where one of the things that actually happens is they have reimagined the way two people have to pilot a robot. I know that has nothing to do with what we are talking about today, but Blair, since you got me on the topic, I figured I’d put it in there anyway.
Blair: So what does this mean to enterprise customers?
Chris: The struggle that people have had really, I mean if I boil down the whole thesis, and obviously, I spent hours today kind of walking through the logic here. But it is that we as individuals, as information workers in particular, we spend way too much time orchestrating the work we do, managing it, setting it up, preparing it, rather than actually doing the work. And a lot of the reason for that is because productivity tools just aren’t there. We work in a new virtual environment, an anywhere worker kind of paradigm, yet the tools we use are the ones that were built decades ago. And so what project Ansible brings to the table is a new experience that actually allows people to bring new tools to the way they work, aggregates the contents that they get involved in, the contacts that they have, all the different applications, and then maps into the business process in the way they work.
Blair: Can you give us a quick scenario what a worker might experience?
Chris: Let’s take, for example, you are in web collaboration session or you are on a phone call and you are trying to find a document and you can’t get the version right, and so somebody says hey, look let’s start a web collaboration session. And immediately, within the same environment, with a push of a button, you start a web collaboration session. Okay, well that doesn’t seem so farfetched from what I can do today. But then what happens is, immediately, the system automatically creates what we call, an “Ansible space.” And an Ansible space is basically a sharing environment where you can put the documents that you use, and all the materials you use, and it leverages, whatever you are using, Googledocs or SharePoint or whatever else as the system. But by automatically creating that, you now have a record of the conversation of what you have been doing, the material that you can easily find without having to jump out, pivot into a different application, cut and paste and put it in.
So it’s little things like that, that actually create value to the individual who is using the system, but also to the enterprise itself in terms of improving efficient productivity.
Blair: So you just announced this today, when can we expect to start seeing this?
Chris: We did an “open the kimono” preview to our friends in the analyst and consultant community. And what we’ve done is we are releasing some of the information obviously which you are hearing from me today, and we expect that sometime in mid-July is when we would make more information public to a general audience.
Blair: Well congratulations, I know this has been a lot of work, and we look forward to the actual release.
Chris: Great. Thank you so much, Blair.