As I reflect back upon the event, two things really stand out.
- Unify is Back
- Circuit is the jewel in the rough
Unify had a tough 2015. The executive team came with axes. They slashed headcount, products, locations, and initiatives. Every significant metric shrank. The company fell from being a “Leader” (top right) to “Niche” (bottom left) in the Gartner Magic Quadrant. At this event, things were surprisingly optimistic. The company presented itself as a successful turn-around. Lots of performance metrics were shared – mostly positive and those that weren’t so great were significantly improved. I think the story not only exceeded expectations, but resonated. That said, the company’s sale to Atos raises lots of questions – why? was it a reasonable valuation? Where does Siemens fit (major shareholder of both Unify and Atos)? what happens under new ownership? and many more – none of which were reasonably answered (nor really could be at this time).
Lots of new questions, but that’s a good thing. Unify is stimulating curiosity again. The company has some old and new products, large customers, and intriguing new ownership.
Layered within all this drama is the small story of a significant product: Circuit. Unify was the first UC company to release a messaging/team collaboration solution – a category I refer to as Workstream Communications and Collaboration (WCC). The idea is to take the best of these newfangled team messaging apps (such as Slack) and combine the service with UC. Or, perhaps more simply stated as WCC = UC + Enterprise Social Networks + Evolution. Atos calls it communications plus collaboration.
Circuit was launched in 2014, soon after Cisco announced Project Square which became Cisco Spark which was followed by Interactive’s PureCloud. Later in 2015 RingCentral acquired Glip and Thinking Phones acquired Fuze (which had acquired Live Minutes). In other words, there are five WCC solutions available today, and more coming (Mitel promising Q1).
I believe WCC to be very important – and it’s early yet – none of the above solutions have particularly strong momentum and all of them have gaps. If we accept for just for a moment that there’s merit to these types of solutions (I think so, but many aren’t sold yet) – then Circuit could prove the be the hidden treasure within Unify. Keep in mind Unify (and Atos) have predominately European customers – far from Silicon Valley and largely unaware of Slack (which doesn’t even do real-time comms yet). Unfortunately, Unify’s rough 2015 largely diluted its early-mover advantage. However, Atos came to the party with some strong enterprise influence, an major focus on IT services including cloud, and 95k employees that will push and stimulate Circuit.
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