I’ve worked on the design of a variety of enterprise software systems. And I know the desperate desire from their users for tools that feel less corporate, and more consumer. They want stuff at work that feels like what’ve become accustomed to on their iPhones. They want stuff that’s fun! The problem is that it’s hard for very large companies to accept the fragmentation of tools when they come from too many vendors. They want single source solutions — but, ideally ones that also integrate with all the other cool and hip stuff that people use, or can future-connect to stuff that hasn’t even been invented yet. It’s a corporate mindset that may be old fashioned, but it’s there, and not going away any time soon.
So it’s interesting to see Ansible, an enterprise communication tool from Siemens. Designed by Frog, Ansible ties together a lot of different tools, like video and voice chat, email, and txting — bringing them into a single communication space. It helps give context to conversations, because everything is linked, it helps organize workflows, and it functions as a sort of social intranet, letting people find connections to other employees with similar interests.
From Frog’s post on the project, it started with a fun/challenging brief from Hamid Akhavan, Siemens Enterprise Communications’ CEO: “Communication tools play a more central role in our lives and bottom line; yet the experience is broken. Fix this.” And the product looks nice. It’s consumer slick, cross device, and full of fun features.
Right now Ansible is being released as a strategic vision for Siemens Enterprise Communication. But there’s talk that it will have general availability as a product some time in 2014.