A Visit to Vienna – Siemens Enterprise Communications Analyst Conference

I love Vienna – the architecture, the pastries, the wine, the history, the cafes, and did I mention the pastries? What a beautiful place to visit and hear from Siemens Enterprise Communications execs about their progress to date, future plans, and more. While it was sometimes hard to pay attention to the presenters since it meant taking my eyes off of the frescos on the ceiling of the 16th century palais where the conference was held, I managed to gather a few tidbits.

As you have probably read by now, Siemens Enterprise Communications did not announce which company will most likely merge with or acquire them, and all they will say is they are “In advanced stages of talks with potential partners” and are in discussion with a private equity partner and a competitor. That’s disappointing to me since I’d like to see them get acquired by a synergistic partner such as Oracle, SAP, or another business process or application provider (you know, UC is “communications integrated to optimize business processes.”) But they didn’t ask for my opinion.
The theme of the conference, as to be expected, was openness and the move to software-based solutions. Siemens OpenScape products are open, software-based solutions focusing on open standards that can integrate to existing IT landscapes. For example, the OpenScape UC Server is described as a single comprehensive software suite based on SOA. The software can run on all infrastructures, and not just with Siemens’ products. OpenScape UC Server has been deployed on Avaya, Nortel, Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent, and NEC switches, works with any IT or telephony infrastructure, whether IP or TDM, and works on any client, while providing the basis for several UC applications.

Thomas Zimmermann, COO, and Gerhard Otterbach, CMO, discussed how the OpenScape UC Suite is “the world’s first truly integrated unified communications solution based on open standards.” The software foundation, OpenScape UC Server, provides SIP Session Control, Aggregated Presence, Administration and Licensing, Availability Management, QoS Management, and compliance and governance. On top of this software foundation are the OpenScape Applications based on OpenSOA, including: OpenScape Voice, OpenScape Mobility, OpenScape Video, OpenScape Messaging, OpenScape UC Application, and OpenScape Contact Center. The layer on top, OpenScape Integration Services, include Security, CEBP Microsoft Ecosystem, CEBP Vertical Industry, CEBP IBM Ecosystem, and CEBP Other Line of Business Applications.
Continuing the discussion about the transition to a software and services business, Zimmermann and Otterbach mentioned that the company is growing several innovation areas, including OpenScape UC Suite, HiPath OpenOffice, OpenScale Managed and system integration services. I agree with the company that it’s important for them to speed up this transition to a software and services business, and was glad to hear several speakers state that they have a clear roadmap on how to accelerate, which will include enhancing systems integration and other areas within the company. What I believe is the most important but also most challenging step is to transform skills to UC software and services, which includes training and certification programs for Siemens and its channel partners, and the need to recruit experts.

For system integration and professional services, Siemens Enterprise Communications provides OpenScale Service to design, implement and support open, multi-vendor UC solutions. The Openscale integration services include CEBP for the Microsoft ecosystem, IBM, other line of business applications, and vertical industry applications. OpenScale is a global services offering that works with competitors’ environments, not just Siemens’. This is key as Siemens Enterprise Communications transitions to a software and services business – most enterprises are multi-vendor.

Siemens Enterprise Communications is also developing broader market coverage and lower sales cost, with a focus on having a direct presence in all of its regions, while developing indirect channels and alliances, and growing in emerging countries. For example, in 2006, indirect revenues for OpenScape Voice Licenses accounted for 35% of the revenues, and today accounts for 53% of revenue.

While doing all of this, Siemens will continue to focus on its core business, divest non-core assets and businesses, partner with SMB channels, and focus R&D on UC innovations.

For several years I’ve been saying that Siemens Enterprise Communications has been a thought leader in terms of unified communications, and everything I heard throughout the two days of the conference reinforces this belief. Siemens was first to market with a product to support Microsoft LCS, and spent a great deal of time and energy evangelizing about UC, what it means, and what it does (remember when many people didn’t know what “presence” referred to – Siemens had to explain it over and over to help people understand the value of UC). Siemens Enterprise Communications is not sitting back and waiting for UC to happen, but is being an active player in moving the industry forward. The company’s move toward software and services is exactly what the company needs to be doing. Hopefully whoever acquires or invests in the company will allow it to continue moving forward and innovating.

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