Enterprise Communications

Project Ansible: Looking Beyond UC into the Future of Enterprise Communications

by Elka Popova 16 Jul 2013
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On July 16th, Siemens Enterprise Communications (SEN) announced Project Ansible—SEN’s vision and technology evolution roadmap for the future of enterprise communications. My colleague Mike Brandenburg who attended Siemens Enterprise Communications’ analyst event already wrote about this initiative in as much detail as he was allowed to provide at the time. As he stated, Project Ansible is very much about what we all envisioned unified communications (UC) was supposed to be: seamless, contextual, personalized, social, extensible, adaptable communications, tightly integrated with business-process applications.

The really interesting part about Project Ansible is that it is mostly about the user interface. I strongly believe that this is where most of the innovation in enterprise communications is going to take place over the next few years. Not that we have reached a dead end in terms of back-end infrastructure; don’t get me wrong. Roughly speaking, half of the world is still using TDM technology either on the system or end-user device level, which creates significant opportunities for migration and upgrades. But the roadmap seems to be clearer as far as the back-end infrastructure is concerned—IP telephony, virtualization, maybe cloud (on the premises or hosted), etc. On the other hand, the user interface is where developers can truly innovate and differentiate and deliver unique value to customers.

SEN’s Project Ansible takes enterprise communications beyond what we commonly associate with UC. UC was all about the integration of various communications applications through shared presence and a single point of access (the UC app itself). Over the past few years, vendors started gradually migrating away from the UC marketing pitch toward a message around “collaboration”, switching the focus from the more technical to the more personal aspects of business communications. Lately, social technologies have captured the market’s attention and vendors and customers are looking at integrating a social element into UC and collaboration solutions.

Project Ansible layers such collaboration and social elements on top of the more common enterprise communications technologies. Furthermore, through advanced analytics, “thought trails”, and the so-called Ansible Spaces (persistent, shared repositories of conversation transcripts, files, etc.), the platform creates rich context around new interactions. It does so both automatically, by “predicting” user needs, and through user-driven search, thus enabling greater personalization and improved efficiency.

As always, Siemens Enterprise Communications is betting on open, standards-based technologies. This new platform can be layered on top of any-vendor underlying infrastructure. Through open APIs and SDKs, third-party developers can integrate new capabilities into Ansible, integrate Ansible into other solutions, and thus further enhance and/or personalize the solution. Built-in Connectors enable the integration of this platform with various types of business-process applications such as salesforce.com or Google.

Ansible will be rolled out over the course of at least a year and a half with scheduled releases until the end of 2014. However, the solution has been developed based on extensive research with customers and partners. Siemens Enterprise Communications is once again ahead of the curve in terms of technology development. What they need now is a sustainable execution strategy.

As Rick Puskar, VP of Sales, Unified Communications, said, “seeing is believing”. My brief write-up and the press releases hardly do enough justice to this exciting new technology. So if your interest has been piqued, check out the Project Ansible website or try to obtain a demo from the SEN team.


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