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Project Ansible

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

tracktorSiemens Enterprise with great fanfare introduced something they call Project Ansible. Ansible is a made up word from a 1966 novel which defined this small device that allowed instant no-delay communications (voice/video) across a wide range. It’s a befitting name.

With a voice centric heritage, Siemens is obviously trying to redefine enterprise communications (or better said something that ensures they’re in business down the road). ┬áLacking any super UI type of folks, Siemens hired the super UI type of folks at Frog Design. The result is a Hollywood worthy video with slick production values (YouTube).

Is this a Project, a Product, a Service or like the 1966 novel from which it get’s it’s name, a fictitious work of imaginary art?

I applaud Siemens for thinking of out the box. Recognizing that change is always upon us and the need to keep up with the times. But I was left asking myself, what problem is Project Ansible trying to solve? It wasn’t clear (other than I’m all for more pretty people in my life). Improving our lives is hard, complicating it is comparably easy.

Too often companies are on some “change the world mission.” The burden of proof is incredibly high that you are indeed changing the world in a meaningful way. These ideas usually end in flames. It’s that hard.

I’m a bigger fan of enhancing what I already understand and making it better (cheaper helps too) and clearly WebRTC is a tool at to achieve this. For Siemens, who might be selling corporate PBX’s for $500 a seat, the question is how to do they dramatically improve that experience and do it for $50 a seat. That’s a much easier test to pass than trying to change my entire mode of communications. Though Siemens probably doesn’t like those economics

The good news with WebRTC is that it’s relatively easy to try things out and that is it’s primary power. For the moment, we have lots and lots of technology chatter, geeks arguing and everyone trying to be really smart. But the spoils of using this technology will go to those who harness to figure out a way to enhance my communications.