Midsize and large enterprises increasingly are adopting unified communications and integrating them with their social media and mobile strategies to boost spur greater collaboration among employees, partners, and clients.
Looking to take advantage of this trend, Siemens Enterprise Communications plans to unveil in June an upgraded version of its OpenScape Unified Communications Suite that streamlines mobile use of UC and further simplifies this capability.
Ninety-one percent of organizations run IP-based UC solutions next to legacy PBX systems for communications, according to a ReRez Research study conducted for Siemens in January. Although those companies running IP-based systems save an average of 43% annually, organizations' adoption efforts are challenged by increased mobility and a skillset shortage, said Rick Puskar, senior vice president of global portfolio management, in an interview.
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"Companies aren't doing a rip and replace. They're taking an interim step. Ninety-one percent have mixed environments," he said. "They don't want to bite off more than they can chew. They're thinking about their toe in the water. There's a way to wisely dip your toe in the water, and there's a way to more wisely dip your toe in the water."
Cloud quickly is becoming integral to that first step, said Puskar. Organizations' embrace of mobile is further spurring adoption of cloud, with 45% of those surveyed planning to implement this technology in 2012. Most midsize and enterprise companies planning to adopt cloud this year anticipate moving to private--not public--clouds, he noted.
In addition to considering cloud, Siemens also recommends that businesses embrace IP-based communications; sensibly meld old and new technologies; and consider managed services in order to reduce stress on staff.
Siemens also hopes that, within the next three months or so, enterprises consider implementing version seven of its OpenScape Unified Communications Suite, which includes features designed to ease some of these hurdles, said Puskar.
Enhancements include increased scalability from 100 users to half a million users, he said.
"It's pretty big, mind-boggling, how large it grows. But we're also taking care of those smaller midsize companies," Puskar said.
The newer version also will include unified domains for presence, messaging, contact, and directory integration. This is designed to remove expensive communication distortion, reduce the total cost of ownership, and increase business productivity, agility, and effectiveness, according to Siemens.
By melding its mobile UC and UC clients into a single client, the developer enhanced mobility by expanding its Call Swipe feature, thereby allowing users to switch phones--from office line to cell phone to home phone, for example--with one swipe of the hand, Puskar said. Other mobile capabilities include a new OpenScape Mobile client for iPad, iPhone, and Android tablets and smartphones; UC and SIP-based Voice over IP (VOIP) capabilities; secure calls encrypted with TLS/SRTP; and a public and enterprise app-ready store for choice, flexibility, and control.
"By combining the two clients into one, we're now able to allow any device in your device settings--there's no charge per device--and regardless of where you're traveling, you can now gesture to any device, which is really cool," Puskar said. "I can move and change as often as I want, from device to device. We haven't forgotten about security. All calls are encrypted using TLS/SRTP."
The suite also will support Apple Macintosh OS, in addition to its long-standing support of iOS, Puskar said. Several existing customers requested this ability as they adopt a bring-your-own-device policy, he added. It also integrates into Microsoft Outlook, so employees can access the UC suite from within the email application.
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