Siemens invokes Twitter to lure unified communications application developers

Siemens demo at VoiceCon application reads Tweets and decides what communications links are called for

SAN FRANCISCO -- Siemens is invoking the model of iPhone-application development by opening a site in Amazon's cloud to encourage creation of unified communications apps, priming the pump with a mashup it created that mixes its UC gear with Twitter.

During his keynote at VoiceCon Wednesday, Siemens Senior Vice President Mark Straton showed off a SOAP- and XML-based software tool that reads Tweets, decides if they indicate that communications actions are needed and if so, sets them up

For example, if a person Tweets that they have just arrived in San Francisco, the application keys in on the words "arrived" and "San Francisco" and triggers actions within Siemens' OpenScape unified communication environment. The person's location status changes from wherever they left, and that change sets off appropriate actions based on policies such as forwarding all calls to that person to voicemail during the hours between midnight and 8 a.m. pacific time rather than midnight to 8 a.m. in the time zone they have left.

Similarly, the application can react to a Tweet that says, "@PersonA, @PersonB and @PersonC need to talk right now," by setting up a conference call among the three so long as contact information for all of them is accessible to OpenScape, Straton said. It would respond to a Tweet that says, "@PersonA, @PersonB and @PersonC need to talk at 3 p.m.," by having OpenScape privately Tweet and e-mail all participants an invitation with dial-in and PIN. At 3 p.m., OpenScape would try to call out to A, B and C and bridge them. Participants unreachable through OpenScape contact information could dial in.

The application relies on Twitter's agent being embedded in the OpenScape client and management platform. Later versions will include using GPS data from users' mobile devices to determine location rather than just the context of their Tweets.While Siemens plans to include this mashup as part of OpenScape's Q1 2010 software release, it is meant as more of an example of features it is possible to develop for its platform. Siemens will release the URL of a Siemens development site within the Amazon EC2 cloud that anyone can use to create their own applications and mashups for Amazon’s fee of 40 cents an hour.

The cloud site includes instances of OpenScape's unified communication and voice applications and a connection to the public phone network. Users can familiarize themselves with OpenScape functionality and use a software developers' kit to write their own applications. Siemens makes no claim to the developers' work, but if Siemens is impressed by whatever they come up with it might make an offer, the company says.

Siemens is considering whether it makes sense to set up an application store similar to Apple's iStore for iPhone applications where developers could sell their creations directly to customers. Regardless, the company says it makes sense to encourage users outside the telecom industry to play with its software to come up with tools insiders might not think of.

OpenScape is Siemens' platform that can link voice, video, texting, e-mail, conferencing, Twitter and other forms of communication to support businesses.

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Tim Greene

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