Over the past four years Siemens has made it pretty clear to industry that they are not interested in the contact center market. The company’s commitment to that market has continued to wane over the years to the point where many industry watchers, me included, consider Siemens to be a non-player in the contact center industry today.
That’s why yesterday’s announcement of Siemens’ joint venture with The Gores Group barely caused a blip on the contact center industry radar. While the unified communications (UC) industry was fairly excited about the possibilities this new JV could bring to the burgeoning UC market, the contact center industry reacted with a collective yawn. There is a bit of irony here.
In earlier posts to this blog I took the position that the contact center will be the launching point for UC into the greater enterprise. Of course there will be exceptions to this, but I still believe that UC will begin to see mass market momentum when the contact center adopts it for its own. Siemens in unquestionably a power to be reckoned with in the emerging UC market, but they’re a non-entity in the well-established contact center market. Thus we have the irony that seems to have kept the contact center industry politely disinterested in the Siemens/Gores Group announcement.
There’s another small but potentially interesting kink in this new arrangement and that is the fact that The Gores Group owns SER, the contact management/predictive dialer company out of Dulles, VA, and they’re throwing SER in as part of the deal. Now, SER is no Aspect but it’s no slouch either and I question whether the new Siemens/Gores JV can afford to ignore it in deference to Siemens’ apathy toward the contact center industry. I foresee a bit of a quandary as the new Siemens Enterprise Communications comes to life.
Long term, the problem will probably take care of itself. Siemens is not going to take its eye off the UC ball but it is going to have to come to terms with the role of UC in the contact center. For the short term Siemens will have to follow the majority stakeholder Gores Group in its support of SER’s products and the contact center industry. This is not, however, where I see Siemens in the long run.
Long-term, I believe Siemens’ role in the industry will evolve with the industry itself. As the UC industry sorts itself out, I believe the players will become increasingly specialized. For example, one company might specialize in UC software. Another might specialize in infrastructure. Siemens’ specialization will be services. Siemens Enterprise Communications has made noise about transforming itself into a services company for years. Now it is out from under the heavy hand of Siemens AG, it finally has the chance to actually do it.
As for SER? Probably acquired by Aspect.