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Siemens Enterprise Communications reborn as Unify; will it make a US comeback?

Tessa Parmenter

Siemens Enterprise Communications renamed the company Unify in a rebranding event held simultaneously in Munich and New York City today.

Better known in Europe, Siemens Enterprise Communications was founded as a joint venture of Siemens

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AG and an American private equity firm, the Gores Group. Its mission is to provide software-based enterprise unified communications products, including voice, Web collaboration, video conferencing, contact center, networking products and global services.

With industry trends focused on remote workers, bring-your-own-device policies, the consumerization of IT and social media, Unify's CEO Hamid Akhavan explained that today's announcement is "a promise to harmonize the enterprise" by letting employees work where they want and however they want on whatever device.

Akhavan said the company has been unified for a long time, but "it just took a while for the name to catch up to the company."

Why Siemens Enterprise Communications desperately needed a name change

It's no secret that the company was in need of a new name. When Siemens Enterprise broke off from Siemens AG in 2008, the company was only supposed to use the name for a year. But in the wreckage of The Great Recession that began the very month it launched, the company was granted a few more years to hang onto the name. The lack of quick rebranding came at a cost, however.

"From a North American-centric view, if I sit down and talk with folks who are responsible for telecom decision making, or [with] CIOs [chief information officers] in large organizations, they probably don't have the slightest clue that Siemens is even in this space anymore" said Irwin Lazar, vice president and service director at Nemertes Research Group Inc., based in Mokena, Ill. But a rebranding effort combined with an impressive roster of partners may turn things around for the company, he said.

With rebranding out of the way and with partners like Polycom and NextPlane, the company seems to be not only turning things around, but turning heads. In an annual industry-wide Nemertes Research study of IT professionals, the new Unify was named an "Enterprise Trusted Advisor," ranking third on a list of 150 technology companies surveyed. Gartner also ranked Unify as a Leader in the Magic Quadrant for Corporate Telephony.

"I definitely think Unify will direct more effort in the States," said Michael Brandenburg, industry analyst at San Antonio-based Frost & Sullivan.  "North American partners [will] help that effort."

The tech behind the name

What's really in a name? For Unify, it's Project Ansible -- the code name for its upcoming communications and collaboration platform that delivers the promise of truly unified technology on a single pane of glass. No one else is doing this in the industry today, despite attempts from competitors like Avaya and Cisco.

"The vendor is bringing together things like email, IM [instant messaging], social media and popular business tools like Salesforce onto a clientless platform, launchable through a Web link in browsers that support WebRTC," Lazar said.

As part of today's launch party, Unify stated it would accelerate the timeline of Project Ansible and start platform deliveries July 2014 through a cloud-based offering to complement Unify OpenScape.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Tessa Parmenter, site editor, and follow@TessaParmenter on Twitter.


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