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Is @UnifyCo Unified? Is #ProjectAnsible the Answer?
Andrew Borg, Aberdeen Group
DEC 10, 2013 05:08 AM
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Today Unify (the next-generation communications company formerly known as Siemens Enterprise Communications) made the surprise announcement that their CEO Hamid Akhavan is being replaced by Dean Douglas, currently President and CEO of enterprise technology distributor Westcon Group Inc. Although Akhavan is ‘moving up’ to a Board Director position, this is the final step in the recent ‘clean sweep’ of the Unify executive ranks:

Hamid Akhavan (President/CEO)

Chris Hummel (COO/CMO)

Eve Aretakis (EVP Product)

Mark Greenquist (CFO – for a mere 7 months)

These executives don’t seem to be leaving under a dark cloud; conversely, they appear to leave a track record to be proud of: a successful company relaunch and #ProjectAnsible pre-launch. So why the CXO house-cleaning?

There are rumors that perhaps the launch was ‘too successful’: that sales of their current platform (OpenScape) have stalled and without Ansible sales kicking in, the private investors (including Gores Group) are getting justifiably more than nervous. Although they may have drunk the Ansible Kool-Aid (it is a very compelling vision on the future of next-generation communications -NGC ), it looks like they lacked confidence in the former team’s ability to execute on that vision that they had put into place so well.

If that is indeed the case, then we need to give Mr. Douglas a bit of breathing room to assemble his new executive team. His track record at Westcon is strong in terms of channel sales enablement and tactical execution, two areas that will be critical in Unify’s next chapter. So let’s see whom he hires to do what, and how quickly they can jump in the saddle of that fast-moving horse that is Ansible (apologies to the reader for the mixed metaphor). Given that Unify has bet it’s entire future on Ansible, within six months or so we should have a pretty good idea as to whether the commercial launch of Ansible was a great success – or if Unify put too many eggs in one basket (again with the metaphors!).

Andrew Borg

Research Director

Enterprise Mobility & Collaboration

Aberdeen Group

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