Today Siemens Enterprise Communications publically announced Project Ansible, their vision for the next generation of communication and collaboration. Developed with support from Frog Design, Project Ansible is Siemens attempt to compete with enterprise collaboration platforms like Microsoft SharePoint, IBM Connections and Jive Software. Siemens is not the first vendor with a strong unified communication/call center heritage to dip their feet into the enterprise collaboration space, as Cisco (Webex) and Citrix also have similar offerings. Pricing is not yet announced and availability is planned for 2014.
Siemens vision is to not simply assemble various products to create a platform that has the standard collaboration tools like blogs, wikis, activity streams, instant messaging,web conferencing, etc. but instead they are looking to modernize the way teams seamlessly work together.
- Given Siemen's background, Ansible's communication features, even across devices, should be very good.
- They don't appear to be building their own content creation tools, but instead allowing people to use tools like Google Apps and Microsoft Office. Organizations who have standardised on those tools will appreciate the integration,but it does mean organizations still need to purchase and administer additional tools. Several leading collaboration platforms have their content creation tools built in, which some organizations may prefer.
- I like the idea of transcribing video and audio calls. It should make finding and sharing information easier, provided the accuracy is acceptable. I'd like to see this be more than just text, and instead provide actionable items like tagging and tasks the way a product like HarQen does.
- Built on WebRTC - Should make Ansible easy for people to use (no browser plug-ins) and developers to extend
- Support for other enterprise applications like Salesforce, Google Apps and Microsoft Office will help Ansible integrate into the way people work versus forcing them to switch back and forth between platforms
- They are offering a SDK right from the start, to help developers extend the platform
- Options for both hosted and on-premises deployments will give them an advantage over offerings that are either on-premises only or cloud only.
The collaboration market is very saturated with dozens of platforms already available, plus many application providers (ex: Oracle, SAP, Infor, etc.) starting to build collaboration into their business applications. Siemens will need to do something to stand out from the crowd in order to gain traction, but today's announcement is a good start. Existing customers will be happy to see the additional functionality, especially in areas where Siemens excels like Call Centers and Customer Support.