Siemens, Verizon Business Expand Their Unified Communications Offerings

The companies are strengthening their offerings, simultaneously beginning to collaborate and compete with each other.

W. David Gardner, Contributor

August 22, 2007

2 Min Read

Major players in the expanding unified communications (UC) phenomenon moved this week to strengthen their offerings, with the companies simultaneously beginning to collaborate and compete with each other.

Siemens announced an OEM agreement with IBM that paves the way for IBM to use elements of Siemens OpenScape's OpenSOA architecture in collaboration with IBM Lotus Sametime products.

"Our companies share the goal of developing extensible unified communications solutions that are based on open standards and integrate seamlessly into business processes," said Bruce Morse, VP of unified communications and collaboration at IBM, in a statement.

The partnership will enable Lotus customers to decouple UC offerings from PBX infrastructures, enabling them to carry out applications integration based on their business requirements and not on PBX capabilities, Siemens said.

Also this week, Verizon Business introduced its Integrated Communications Package, a UC hub that enables users to access voice mail and control incoming and outgoing calls. In addition, the ICP hub can be used for the management of online presence, the sending of text messages, and the synchronization of contacts and calendars.

The UC service is available for Verizon Business VoIP portfolio customers using Hosted IP Centrex. ICP will be available beginning next month, Verizon said, noting there are future plans to integrate the service with the company's advanced audio, contact center, and videoconferencing services.

Customers using ICP will give colleagues a way to determine how best to reach them, whether by phone, e-mail, or instant message. ICP can instantly direct incoming phone calls to a mobile phone, a PDA, or a voice mail link.

The Verizon service also links with other vendors' offerings, including Lotus Sametime instant messaging and voice mail, as well as with Microsoft Outlook.

The Siemens and Verizon announcements were made at the VoiceCon show in San Francisco, which runs through Thursday.

The general sense in the industry is that unified communications is inevitable, but much more legwork is needed before it can be considered a success.

A recent global survey of IT managers and employees on UC, commissioned by Dimension Data and conducted by Datamonitor, found that more than 50% of respondents believe that a fully flexible work environment will be routinely used in the market within five years. The survey questioned 524 workers and 390 IT managers on topics such as adoption plans for various communications technologies and their current use of these technologies.

For the near term, IT managers and workers agree that click-to-dial from the desktop, presence, and VoIP will be routinely used in the corporate environment within two years.

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