We had the opportunity to attend the Unify analyst summit, which happened this week in beautiful Bermuda (a surprisingly convenient location from NYC). Over 40 analyst were there to get updated on the state of transformation and product progress of Unify (the former Siemens Enterprise Communications, if you like go even more back to Rolm). 


Fellow colleague Alan Lepofsky joined me, and we recorded a short takeaway video, so take a peek:

No time to watch – here are my top 3 takeaways:

Unify transformation is WIP – After the launch as Unify, the vendor has gone through some difficult times to right-size the operation. Executives were surprisingly open on progress and challenges, based on the numbers shared it looks like the vendor has started to turn a corner. Customer references were all Avaya takeaways, so it is clear where Unify is trying to grow from going forward. The vendor claims around 30M seats and seems to be able to win business at usual call center attrition rate (5-8% p.a.), all key vital signs.

Unify is now Atos (but keeps operating under the Unify brand) – It was a first that an acquisition closed live during an analyst event – and so did the acquisition of Unify by Atos. It was good to see that Atos’ head of Managed Services, Eric Grall was in Bermuda, as the services part of the Unify business will report into him. Grall said that Atos intends to follow the same playbook as with the recent acquisition of Bull, separate the acquired vendor in services and the rest. It will be interesting to see how Atos will harmonize its portfolio e.g. with existing assets like BlueKiwi. If you haven’t seen it yet – take a look at my blog post on the acquisition here. Lastly Unify brings to Atos a key ability, channel savviness, which Atos needs for its Bull offering and does not have currently. Sure different partners are needed for call center vs hardware / security, but it makes Atos / Unify a more attractive partner, allowing for the capture of more share of wallet at customers. And keeping Unify’s channel capabilities intact will be key for Atos.

Circuit needs adoption – The Circuit product by now has all the ingredients to become a driver for more growth for Unify. Kudos to Unify for letting the analysts use the product during the event, and at first look it worked well. Behind the scenes capabilities are positive, too, the offering is Openstack based, uses Opensource offerings like e.g. Cassandra and operates (for now) in two data centers on both sides of the Atlantic. Unify has spent a lot of time to take cost out of the infrastructure, allowing the vendor to offer Circuit under a freemium model. The product is open and can be extended by developer, a must have capability for any collaboration player, given the ‘zoo’ of collaboration products out there.
Overall Circuit is offered under 4 different licenses. Now the product needs adoption, that 11+ months after launch has not yielded more than 1k users / month. Given a 30M install based even a subpar upsell / cross-sell effort. But Unify wants to do more with Circuit, so will be good to see what happens on the adoption side in the next quarters. Switching to a more viral marketing, ‘land & expand’ model as well as aggressively going after enterprise software ISVs who seek collaboration capabilities are potential strategies. 



A good event for Unify, but the vendor realistically now has to layer one more transformation on top of its own core business transformation. Both are important but the latter even featured prominently in the press release this week, so more challenges Unify executives have to rectify. As usual with acquisitions, one can expect executive changes, buffering the ripple effects of organizational change will be key for Atos. And while Atos is becoming more and more global, it is still a French company en coeur, and mixing that with the Teuton / American culture is an experiment that can up as well as not so well. The opportunity is there, as no player on the communications / collaboration space has offered one common, easy to use application and end user experience. Just look at the challenge of the average enterprise employees to launch and run a web collaboration challenge. While practice makes champions here as well, the industry has for too long offered disjointed user experiences, hard to run products (plug in anyone?) – leaving productivity behind. The synchronous capabilities (and to make phones ring) is a key differentiator for Unify, as when push comes to shove in the real world, people pick up phones. But till we see a unified communications and collaboration platform, seamlessly integrated to where business is done – the enterprise applications, with ease of use like the point solutions that are popular today, it will be still a while and is Unify’s (as competitors) opportunity to grab. We will be there to analyze.

More on Unify
  • Market Move - Atos completes acquisition of Unify - gets more into IP - read here
More Musings Posts
  • Musings – Time to re-invent email – for real! - Read here
  • The Dilemma with Cloud Infrrastrcture updates - read here
  • Are we witnessing the Rise of the Enterprise Cloud? Read here
  • What are true Analytics - a Manifesto. Read here
  • Is TransBoarding the Future of Talent Management? Read here
  • How Technology Innovation fuels Recruiting and dsrupts the Laggards - read here
Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here and checkout my magazine on Flipboard and my YouTube channel here.