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After Atos acquisition, Unify collaboration roadmap emerges

The dust is settling after Atos acquired Unify. Now, Unify CEO Jon Pritchard details how the acquisition has affected the company's collaboration products.

When French IT service provider Atos SE finalized its acquisition of unified communications and collaboration provider Unify Inc. in January, questions lingered over what would happen with Unify's services and platforms. Now, as the companies emerge from the acquisition, Unify collaboration products have a clearer roadmap.

Unify CEO Jon Pritchard spoke with SearchUnifiedCommunications on what's changing for Unify collaboration services and what customers can expect to see in the coming months.

What has changed for Unify since the acquisition was completed?

Jon Pritchard: We're at what we'd call business as usual. We're seeing a lot of the reasons why Atos made the acquisition, with the digital transformation journey they look to take their customers on and the gap they had in the UC and collaboration marketplace.

What we're seeing is that's absolutely hanging fruit, what we call white-space opportunity -- the new opportunities for our products and solutions.

We're also seeing more opportunities in areas we didn't think. Atos has a large Salesforce practice in their business. We see some joint work we could do, where we integrate Circuit into Salesforce and offer a more holistic solution, as opposed to a standalone collaboration tool.

What else can Unify customers expect to see going forward?

Unify CEO Jon PritchardUnify CEO Jon Pritchard

Pritchard: Atos is committed to research and development investment and identified new market opportunities where we can be creative and develop our products. They've come up with extra investment on top of what was budgeted to help make that happen.

You'll see us making some moves later this year in the next-generation 911 space based on our X1 platform. It will be developed into a more holistic 911 solution. We've always done a 911 offering, but this allows us to take all the service wrap and capability of Atos, so it becomes a full, managed service as opposed to just a point product.

How has the acquisition impacted Unify collaboration products, like Circuit?

Pritchard: We've got a decent number of smaller users and fairly large enterprise partners. We'll be announcing later through the summer that Siemens will take Circuit across the whole of their real estate. That will be over 300,000 users, which is hugely significant for us in terms of having that large number of users on one instance of Circuit.

Another positive byproduct of the acquisition is Atos will begin using the product as well. So, you'll start to see how we take blueKiwi, which is the Atos collaboration tool, and bring that together with Circuit, so that we have one offering for the whole marketplace.  

How is Atos helping Circuit compete in the crowded market of team collaboration products?

Pritchard: One of the approaches we've talked with Atos about is Circuit shouldn't just be a product; it should be a platform to work, interact and interoperate with other solutions. We need to help our direct sellers, Atos sellers and partners understand that customers need support -- not necessarily 100% of the time with technology -- but in how they change the culture of the business, how they reduce their reliance on email [and] how they share files in a different way to get everything in workgroups, as opposed to just on SharePoint.

We're trying to position our people to have those business-need conversations, as opposed to technology-led conversations. It's definitely a market that's changing, but we are seeing traction in it.

Circuit shouldn't just be a product; it should be a platform to work, interact and interoperate with other solutions.
Jon PritchardCEO, Unify

How are other Unify collaboration products, like OpenScape, evolving with the acquisition?

Pritchard: Both OpenScape Voice and OpenScape Business will evolve into a more cloud-based offering. In early autumn, you'll see OpenScape Business be available to our partners to stand up in their own infrastructure and offer as a cloud-based offering to their customers. That's something we haven't done in that small to midmarket space. We've done it in the enterprise for the large service providers.

In terms of other products, you'll start to see, especially for our partners, some of the Atos products, such as the Evidian enterprise single sign-on suite of software. We're trying to take everything Atos has to market, both directly to our customers and partners.

What impact has Atos had on Unify's verticalization roadmap for its UC and collaboration products?

Pritchard: It's more about how we focus on vertical markets and how we make our products fit, whether it's contact center, a financial trade solution or a dispatch-type product. We're taking our core products and developing them to fit in the vertical market space. We're trying to make sure our products have the ability to be made more appropriate for a specific marketplace.

The core of what we do is pure UC-type implementations. But we're seeing more customers saying, 'We have a specific user requirement that we need, what is your vertical market offering for that?'

They might be vertical market solutions, but they're on our core products the same way as our healthcare solution. We partnered with a number of different players, but mostly Siemens and their HiMed offering, which is integrated into our core platform. That's an approach that seems to work now, because we're developing quality, reliable, resilient platforms and integrating different bits of technology in them to make them more specific for a vertical market.

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