Unify is Back #UnifyCO16

by Dave Michels

In the classic Animal Crackers movie by the Marx Brothers Groucho sings:Atos

“Hello, I must be going, I cannot stay,
I came to say, I must be going.
I’m glad I came, but just the same,
I must be going.”

And that song seems appropriate for Unify – perhaps because:

  • Unify is (I saw it happen) being acquired
  • I sort of expected CEO Dean Douglas to start singing it when we met for a private one on one
  • Unify is back – or is it?

That last point deserves clarification. I think Unify is back as a topic of interest. The company has turned a corner, but still has a long, windy, and steep road ahead. What makes it so interesting is all the wildcards. First, there’s Circuit. Unify was early with Circuit and lost some of its early mover advantage as it restructured last year. It’s an exciting technology, but new products are hard to predict. Will the public go for the category? Will the public go for Cicuit? Will the European public respond differently than other regions?

There’s also the acquisition by Atos – how serious is Atos about being a communications vendor? Does the new leadership of Atos view Unify as a cash cow or strategic opportunity? Will the new Atos management be successful at whatever strategy they choose?

There’s also customers to consider- both channel partners (VARs and now providers) as well as end-user organizations. How will they respond to Atos? Unify has dropped from some 25k employees to 5k over the past few years with layoffs, re-orgs, and division sales. The new Atos is about 100k employees. Does this mean more focus or less focus? Will products get improved faster or EoL’d faster?

Yes, January 2016 will be remembered as a pivotal turning point for Unify – the only question is which way will the company turn. The available free TalkingPointz 2Pager provides a summary on what I recently learned at Unify’s analyst event. Overall it was a very positive experience and a bit overdue of an outreach by Unify. Lots has changed – and mostly for the better. Some new faces, but there could have been an In Memoriam presentation too. They have been very busy, and it’s truly impressive how much they got done in 2015.

There are two very distinct parts to the Unify story, and I think this confuses many. The first part is the UC company – the OpenScape (Enterprise and Business) portfolio. This is a telephony-centric UC solution complete with endpoints and advanced applications. As with most UC solutions, it’s a strong and mature story. That’s not the same as a completed story. Unify continues to invest in the portfolio and its GTM. It has a large installed base- albeit mostly in Europe.

The other Unify is Circuit. A newfangled approach to workstream communications and collaboration (WCC). This is an immature story that is widely misunderstood and confused. Personally, I think WCC as a category is pretty strong, but we are in the early innings. None of the solutions have a complete story today, none have momentum, and none are considered a clear (global) leader. Circuit has a reasonable chance of doing well here – it has a stronger real-time heritage, large base, resources to improve it, and a minor headstart over other UC vendors. And, it now has 100k internal users to test it.

Atos agrees and immediately intends to split Circuit from Unify into its managed services division.

Just a few photos from Bermuda.

Click here to go to the Unify 2Pager