Delivery roadmap outlined; New functionality revealed; Initial solution to be cloud based; Early user trials report exceptional usability scores
Today Unify, formerly Siemens Enterprise Communications, provided additional details for Project Ansible, a secure and engaging communications and collaboration platform first debuted to wide acclaim from customers and analysts in June 2013. The company also reported better than anticipated and extraordinary usability results from user testing. Today's announcement was made at Enterprise Connect, the industry's premier conference and exhibition on enterprise communications and collaboration.
“Since joining Unify, Project Ansible has been a central focus in our portfolio reviews, and I am even more excited about its potential to deliver an amazing user experience and tangible benefits to companies of all sizes,” said Dean Douglas, chief executive officer of Unify. “Project Ansible is our answer to intensive market research that started over two years ago. Based on what users expect from their communications and collaboration behaviour, Project Ansible is the solution to take them there, enabling individuals and teams for the New Way to Work, and we’re happy to be driving the conversation and playing a pivotal leading role for this industry.”
Trials Underway, Development Roadmap Unveiled
Unify reported that pre-Beta trials with users were already underway. After extensive solution reviews at the beginning of this year added additional features and functionality to meet evolving global market requirements, the company said that the time frame for Beta trials is May, including an internal roll-out at Unify. After Beta trials with customers, general availability will be in October, 2014 and the first version will be delivered to customers in a Software-as-A-Service (SaaS) model.
Unify also announced a second wave of innovation to be delivered before the end of 2014 which will include intelligent connectors into on-premise OpenScape Voice (OSV) environments. By providing connectors to its communications platforms, Unify said customers will be able to consume rich enterprise voice and video services on the Project Ansible client and allow users to interwork to other voice and video endpoints connected to their existing communications platform. This approach will allow current customers a smooth transition to the New Way to Work. The company said new customers will benefit from the reliability, flexibility and cost effectiveness of a pure software deployment in their data center, bringing together the value of new deployment models, mobility and collaboration. Unify said a third wave of innovation on the Project Ansible development roadmap will include integration to on-premise OpenScape Business and OpenScape 4000 by mid-2015, allowing Unify customers and channel partners around the globe to consume Project Ansible, generating additional investment return on their existing platforms. These elements allow flexibility for the customer, to choose a pure cloud service, leverage a premise-based solution, or take the best from both worlds as their needs evolve.
Ansible is a completely new and innovative software offering designed to extend beyond the promises of unified communications (UC) supporting recognised industry megatrends like bring your own device (BYOD), addressing the role of millennials in the workforce, their requirements of mobility and the rise of the Anywhere Worker. Project Ansible will empower teams to engage in rich and meaningful conversations across virtually any communications channel or device resulting in dramatically improved team productivity. Developed with a user-centric approach over two years in collaboration with frog, a world-leading design consultancy firm, Project Ansible is an immersive solution that erases the boundaries of multiple communication channels and business process applications and integrates them into an intuitive ‘single pane of glass’ user experience, providing visibility across a workgroup, an enterprise and the Web, and transcending the mobile workforce. Project Ansible delivers on user expectations by truly redefining “unified” and, at the same time, brings this experience to the growing mobile workforce without sacrificing functionality.
Additional Project Ansible Solution Features Outlined as Customer Advisory Board Forms
At Enterprise Connect, in response to strong demand and interest from customers, Unify outlined new details about Project Ansible:
- Leveraging the latest technology trends, Project Ansible is the first enterprise-class communications and collaboration offering leveraging WebRTC. Unify said Project Ansible would support Google Chrome and other WebRTC–enabled browsers.
- In addition to desktops, users will be supported on several mobile platforms, with apps for Apple devices in the initial release and Android apps following quickly after.
- Additional features outlined at Enterprise Connect include:
- Seamless High Definition audio/video, 1:1, and group conversations
- Scheduled and ad-hoc conferencing
- Rich, textual messaging
- Enterprise social networking
- Search across persistent conversations, people and files
- Cross-device access to all messages, files, and real-time communication and collaboration capabilities (video, voice and screen sharing)
- Contact integration for LinkedIn and Outlook
- An outstanding and guided user experience ensuring fast and simple ramp-up
- Unify also confirmed that the solution will officially take the name of the continuing research and development program that created it, and be called “Ansible,” beginning with general availability shipments in October.
A Customers Advisory Council has been formed with more than 40 customers and partners participating, which is helping to shape solution requirements and provide strategic council to the Project Ansible team. Members will be among the first customers to participate in the Beta trials beginning May 2014.
“We are positive on the vision provided by Unify’s Project Ansible for the marketplace, and are encouraged by progress made on key features and capabilities,” said Jerry Caron, SVP of Analysis, at Current Analysis, a leading industry analyst firm. “Project Ansible shows promise to be the kind of solution that can deliver on user expectations for ease of use and true collaboration, and deliver the required return on investment to business and technology managers.”
User Testing Results Highly Promising
Also at Enterprise Connect, Unify said results from early user trials of Alpha versions provide evidence of Project Ansible’s strongest benefits for customers – fast time to value. In tests conducted last month, users in two persona categories – executives and millennials -- scored exceptionally strong in the two critical measurements of usability and learnability. Separately and together, usability and learnability provide crucial indications of how quickly software solutions can be expected to be adopted by users and ultimately return value to companies. Testing conducted by frog showed an excellent System Usability Scores (SUS) of better than 80 (68 is considered good). Project Ansible also proved to drive high levels of learnability – a measure of how much a user improves on software use from the 1st to the 3rd use, with both personas achieving remarkable scores of 72% which is near expert level use after just three unaided sessions.
“Across all of our product design and usability projects in recent years, we have not seen such positive early usability and learnability measurements,” said Kalle Buschmann, Associate Creative Director, frog. “These tests will continue as Ansible moves from alpha to beta version and, ultimately, to general release, and we fully anticipate these measurements to improve further categorizing Ansible as setting a very high bar for usability in software design and user satisfaction.”
About Project Ansible
The result of a two year development effort, including extensive research on user requirements and preferences, Project Ansible is a next-generation communications and collaboration platform from Unify. Project Ansible is the first platform to deliver a unique, single-pane-of-glass user experience across virtually all devices and designed to extend beyond the promises of unified communications (UC), aggregating information and data across virtually every channel, including social software, business applications, video, text, analytics, and traditional voice communication. For more information, please visit www.ProjectAnsible.com or www.unify.com/ProjectAnsible or #ProjectAnsible
Unify—formerly known as Siemens Enterprise Communications—is a premier communications software and services firm. Our solutions unify multiple networks, devices and applications into one easy-to-use platform that allows teams to engage in rich and meaningful conversations. The result is a transformation of how the enterprise communicates and collaborates that amplifies collective effort, energizes the business, and enhances business performance. Born out of the engineering DNA of Siemens AG, Unify builds on this heritage of product reliability, innovation, open standards and security to provide integrated communications solutions for approximately 75% of the Global 500. Unify is a joint venture of The Gores Group and Siemens AG.
This release contains forward-looking statements based on beliefs of Unify's management. The words "anticipate," "believe," "estimate," "forecast," "expect," "intend," "plan," "should," and "project" are used to identify forward-looking statements. Such statements reflect the company's current views with respect to future events and are subject to risks and uncertainties. Many factors could cause the actual results to be materially different, including, among others, changes in general economic and business conditions, changes in currency exchange rates and interest rates, introduction of competing products, lack of acceptance of new products or services and changes in business strategy. Actual results may vary materially from those projected here. Unify does not intend or assume any obligation to update these forward-looking statements.