This article originally appeared in the Dec. 2012 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
The term unified communications has become tainted in the past decade as the industry has grappled to address a rapidly changing communications environment and appeal to businesses with integrated solutions that are at the same time fun and productive to use, Chris Hummel, chief commercial officer with Siemens Enterprise Communications (News - Alert), noted during his ITEXPO Austin address in October.
“For whatever reason, it’s really hard,” said Hummel. “It’s really hard.”
The promise of UC today is to unify and harmonize communication channels, business processes, the mobile workforce, and the user experience, he said, to enable efficiency, savings, agility, mobility, productivity, collaboration, a great customer experience, and competitive advantage.
Part of the problem with getting UC off the ground, however, is that the different pieces of UC have been built as separate stovepipes, and that much of the money in the industry comes from selling all the separate stovepipes and then tying them all together into what are often incomplete offerings that have significant integration and interoperability challenges, he said.
Hummel went on to say that there are four compounding factors in the world that are creating unmet demand for UC. That includes the fact that work is mobile and distributed; consumer devices lead; joy of use is expected; and conversations are multi-modal and global. He added that, historically, everybody in the industry has been chasing the idea of ports – or, how many enterprise phone lines they can capture. But the Ethernet port has triumphed over the phone port, he said, so IT won the IT/telco war. That said, the success of companies like Siemens will not be about an individual connection; instead, it will be about delivering “information-based value” that delivers more context and supports the “anywhere worker.”
“Where we are today is we are focused on unifying the platform, unifying the customer experience” among devices and OS platforms, he said.
“We have to provide mobility as the norm, not a mobility adjunct,” he added, noting that Siemens is swapping out the chips in its desktop devices to be mobile chips. Making mobility the default, he said, will address the new work environment and allow for a user experience that is consistent across the desktop phone, the smartphone and the tablet.
Siemens also is focused on allowing people and businesses to use tools any way they want and to embed those tools in existing work processes, activities and applications, said Hummel.
“Watch this space, because I feel like this is where the industry has to go,” he concluded.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi