Siemens announced today two new UC-enabled Contact Center packages based on OpenScape UC Server, and a new Voice Portal solution. The products will be available June 30, 2008.
The products are being driven in part by trends in the contact center and in part by trends within the enterprise, but equally as significant are trends in the marketspace. With recent Microsoft partnerships, Siemens seems to be increasingly pushed into the Microsoft-lite camp of UC players.
In the contact center, Siemens says it has seen an increasing focus on First Contact Resolution. UC is essential to enabling First Contact Resolution. At the same time, speech-enabled customer self-service is enabling increasing amounts of self-service within the contact center, improving operational efficiencies.
Within the enterprise, software-based IT-led communications are gaining a bigger play. This mean an increasing emphasis on open standards and in particular SIP. The result has been greater flexibility, scalability, and availability of the telephony systems.
The new voice portal package uses the OpenScape UC Server and OpenScape Voice announced in March to provide speech-enabled applications and self-service capabilities to the contact center. Siemens says there’s integration with Contact Center routing for delivering phone calls to the right agents and support for VXML-, SIP-, and MRCP-based applications.
The two new UC application packages scale OpenScape for the contact center. The OpenScape Voice & Contact Center Package is suitable for 10 agents ($42,500). The OpenScape Contact Center package runs $117,500 for one UC server license, 100 OpenScape Voice and UC Personal Edition, and 60 contact center agents.
SIEMENS VS. MICROSOFT
The announcement comes on the heels of two other significant events and further signals Siemens separation from Microsoft. On the one end, Siemens rebranded and introduced its communications systems under the OpenScape brand last March. At the same time, Microsoft and Aspect, the contact center vendor, inked a relationship in the same time frame giving Aspect deeper access to the OCS code base, much akin to the Microsoft-Nortel relationship outside of the contact center.
At one time, Siemens was the darling of the Microsoft-LCS relationship. OpenScape was one of the first personal contact centers to be introduced into the market and the only one to aggregate individual presence information into group presence. With the Nortel relationship, however, the Microsoft-Siemens relationship has lots its prominence. So that in the OpenScape introduction last March, Siemens emphasized that its products were built around the OpenScape Unified Communications Server. LCS/OCS were given a passing mention at best.
At the same time, Siemens has pushed its relationship with IBM. IBM-Lotus for example, used OpenScape for the telephony capabilities within SameTime. In this most recent announcement, the OpenScape UC application will work with Microsoft, but IBM and Jabber as well. It’s significant that Microsoft’s Speech Server 2007 will not be supported by the OpenScape software at this time.
If the move continues the result could be good news for non-Microsoft users. OpenScape has long been a leading personal contact center. It’s offering of group-aggregated presence has yet to be replicated by competitors. Providing that capabilities on non-Microsoft offices would only be good for Siemens and IT managers everywhere.