Enterprise Communications


Siemens' Project Ansible: Science Fiction Becomes a New Enterprise Reality

by Michael Brandenburg 20 Jun 2013
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I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days with the folks from Siemens Enterprise Communications as part of their Analyst Summit. The two day event focused on both where Siemens is today, as well as throwing back the curtain a bit on their vision for the future of enterprise communications.

An initiative code named “Project Ansible” was ultimately revealed to the analyst community in attendance on the second day. While many of the details of Project Ansible are under wraps until Siemens shares them with the public in mid-July, you can learn a lot from the chosen internal code name. To paraphrase the Wikipedia entry, an ansible is a plot device used heavily throughout science fiction to enable communication without getting too caught up on how it works. Put another way, Star Trek’s Captain Kirk never needs to know the IP address of the starship Enterprise, it just works. At first blush, Project Ansible is Siemens’ way of providing an “it just works” experience to the user, delivering a full aggregation of the traditional UC stack, social software, and business applications in an easily consumable interface on the desktop as well as mobile devices.

From the slick, well produced introduction video all the way up to the live demo, it became immediately clear to me that Siemens has not wasted their two years of research and development effort. While terms like “single pane of glass” and “frictionless” usually come off as marketing speak, in Ansible these concepts are built into the DNA of the solution.

Ironically, Siemens employed another common plot device, the MacGuffin, in their first day of presentations. The executive team carefully reviewed all of their current UC portfolios and go-to-market strategies, while teasing the next generation platform that would come the following day. As it turns out, Project Ansible is not about ripping and replacing existing back-end UC platforms, but instead, focuses on making user consumption of these platforms a much more engaging experience.

While the first taste of the product generated more questions than answers in my mind, Project Ansible is a solid representation of what the promise of unified communications was, or is, supposed to deliver to the end-user. By the end of reveal, it became clear that the Ansible user experience is a great example of how enterprise communications should work and how we as users want it to work. For me at least, it redefines how I want to interact, communicate, and collaborate as part of daily work.

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