Siemens Enterprise Communications is hoping that a name change more indicative of what the company does and a stepped-up schedule to deliver its Project Ansible collaboration platform will better position it against market rivals such as Cisco Systems (CSCO) and Microsoft (MSFT) and open doors to a wider range of growth possibilities.
The company has rebranded itself as Unify, saying it “has set out to change the way companies communicate and collaborate, helping them spend less time orchestrating work and more time doing it.” Siemens unveiled the Unify brand Oct. 15 at splashy events in Munich and New York City and on a live global webcast. Top brass said the name change stemmed from new drivers in the communications and IT industries, including consumerization, BYOD and the reverberation of an increasingly mobile workforce.
Siemens owns 49 percent of the five-year old Enterprise Communications group, while the remainder belongs to Gores Group, a Los Angeles-based investor. The company said the new brand did not involve a change either in ownership or management.
As for Project Ansible, Unify’s communications and collaboration platform it unwrapped this past June, an accelerated timetable will see it introduced to the market in July 2014, following initial customer trials slated to begin in January. The Ansible technology leverages secure, dynamic collaboration and universal content aggregation, featuring a single-pane-of-glass dashboard intended to enhance business performance. The initial version will support voice, video, text and remote screen-sharing, and will enable users to move multichannel conversations intact from device to device using a gesture or “call swipe.” Unify said the first Ansible edition will be offered in a cloud-based, software-as-a-service format.
“Our Siemens history is rich and the connection to our heritage as market innovators remains strong,” said Hamid Akhavan, Unify chief executive. “Our new brand brings to life our vision, backed by dedicated employees around the world, a strong partner community, and an unwavering commitment to help our customers and more than 45 million users find positive returns on their technology investments. Our customers are incredible, our history is enviable, and our future as Unify is unstoppable.”
Unify said it will back the rebranding with an awareness campaign featuring online and traditional print advertising across business, trade and industry publications in key markets in Brazil, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Akhavan said the Unify rebranding opens new doors to mergers, acquisitions and perhaps an IPO, although he quickly discounted that notion.
“We’re putting ourselves in a different neighborhood,” he said. “That neighborhood is boundless in terms of opportunities, growth opportunities, IPO opportunities, M&A opportunities.” Siemens “flirted with an IPO for a couple of years,” he said, but shied away owing to an unreceptive market.
“All possibilities are on the table,” he said in the Bloomberg interview. “Are we looking at M&A? Every Tuesday. Have I talked to everybody in the market? Sure. Was Siemens planning to stay in this business forever? Of course not.”