The New Unify – What’s in a Name?
Last week, Siemens Enterprise Communications became Unify (or, Unify GmbH & Co. KG).
Congratulations to them on their new name!
This name change was expected ever since this global enterprise communications business was spun out of Siemens AG into a separate corporation that is 51 percent owned by The Gores Group. The Gores Group is a successful private equity firm that already had stakes in the enterprise communications and networking markets.
Names are hard to find in today’s market, so it’s great that they could keep the name simple and memorable, as well as pertinent.
The new Unify.com web site and two new brochures have some key phrases that are well positioned to bridge the new company name from the past and current markets into the future of communications value. Here are some phrases from the new Unify Vision brochure that seem pretty appropriate from my perspective.
First, the problem statements:
- “Organizations find themselves mired in a maddening reality of fragmented or incomplete offerings.”
- “… the technologies themselves are often disconnected from the way the business is actually conducted.”
Yes, the reality often is fragmented, though that will certainly continue since enterprises expect the technologies they already own to serve out the planned useful life cycle, or at least the depreciation cycle. It may be that Unify has a vision of interoperating very effectively with those in-place investments; certainly, Siemens Enterprise Communications has pursued this goal in the past with some success, so it makes sense that the new Unify vision will address this problem.
But the exciting point is the willingness to take on the problem of connecting communications technologies to “the way the business is actually conducted.” This will be a big change for the communications industry, where the usual approach is to bend the business to fit the phone system rather than the other way around. Some of Unify’s peers have even tried to suggest users should send Instant Messages or spell user’s directory names using a 12-key touchtone pad! Talk about disconnected. So, yes, this is a real problem and let’s hope Unify can successfully address it.
The vision goes on to the methodology:
- First, the old saw of “any communications channel, whether it’s voice, video, social or search.”
- Then, “using virtually any device.”
- But then seeking to bring this back to the vision with, “Embedded directly into our customers’ unique business workflows.”
So, the first two bullets are the age-old claim that we will do it all for you, which is a fine aspiration, even though e-mail, IM, texting and doc sharing are not on the list. Perhaps this age of consumer-selected devices makes the “any device” promise necessary. But the real challenge, and the real payoff, comes with the vision of communications “embedded…into…unique… workflows.” In our experience, when you get right down to unique workflows, you may not need to do “any channel” on “any device.”
For example, optimizing communications for a help desk may only require presence and IM with optional peer-to-peer voice between PCs in the help desk and support engineering department. Optimizing a sales force may only require communicating to the company-issued iPads, with voice call extension to any device-independent cellular or PSTN number the user chooses. Of course, Unify will want to have a complete tool kit to address these unique business workflows, but their engineering and marketing teams should be sure the business process solutions are the goal, and not take much comfort in just reaching the “any-any” level of functionality – a plateau that is littered with well-intended technologies and companies.
Similarly, my enthusiastic applause for the last bullet in their “… what drives us” section of the brochure:
- “Seamless integration into business process to drive dramatic business improvement.”
Yes! If Unify can do that, they will likely enjoy the same extraordinary success that IBM has demonstrated for over a century. IBM’s very visible “secret sauce” has been and continues to be the detailed inspection of business processes to find out what portions of the process cost can be converted to a lower computing based solution, delivering compelling ROI for their customers. (There’s a reason for the “B” for business rather than a “T” for technology in the middle of IBM.) With just a few years’ exception as they converted from hardware sales to software and services revenues, IBM has consistently produced enviable revenue growth with industry-leading profitability.
Finally, the brochure says,
- “… becoming Unify isn’t just a name change; it reflects a sea change in possibilities.”
Well, it may. We wish them success, since enterprises certainly need major sea changes in the realm of communications, which to this day remain mostly a labor-intensive, manual, unmeasured, waste-filled, error-prone, duplicative, delay-filled environment for enterprises.
Yet, the accompanying brochure, titled, “Results,” reads more like legacy case studies than like breakthrough visions. Yet, with the new name change, it’s worth extending the benefit of the doubt!
For the industry’s sake – and for the customers that deserve great solutions to the inefficiencies or challenges in their workflow communications – let’s hope Unify can execute and gets it right.