Meet Siemens Enterprise Networks' CTO

Adam Turner meets Mark Anderson, an old-school voice player who has embraced the data side.

After nineteen years with the same company, Siemens Enterprise Networks' Chief Technology officer Mark Anderson is an old-school voice player who has embraced the data side.

Originally from South Africa, Anderson joined Siemens fresh out of an engineering degree. Working on a project at Telecom South Africa, he was invited to join Siemens, based in Germany, and spent the next four years based in the company's Munich development labs.

"I started with Siemens just at the point when the digital PABX was making rapid inroads. One of the reasons that I jumped at the job was the opportunity to work in the labs in Munich," Anderson says.

"My initial project was to extend the first really successful digital PABX from Siemens. It was originally out of the US and then we were customising it for the European and other markets including South Africa. At that stage the concept of VoIP was really not something we were even considering, but we were working on other somewhat awkward ways to bring the gap between the telephone and the rest of the desktop."

After starting with Siemens in a purely development role, Anderson returned to South Africa into a purely customer facing role, managing product introduction. Ten years ago he moved to Australia and today, as Australian chief technology officer, Anderson calls upon both sets of skills.

"I come from a strong technology background and that serves well to set the scene, but you've got to then equate that into real world speak," he says.

"Even so, I have a problem with pure marketing views and presentations which are too much at the 'thirty thousand foot' level and really is not providing enough substance to really drive the discussion. You see far too much of that. I think you've got to be very careful not to get too much to the thirty thousand foot stuff because otherwise you are going to lose the audience by not telling them enough about what's really happening."

This year the section of Siemens Communications targeting telecommunications carriers joined with Nokia's Network Business Group to form Nokia Siemens Networks. Anderson is chief technology officer of Siemens Enterprise Networks, which focuses on enterprise and business customers.

Over the years both Anderson and Siemens have embraced both voice and data, the two sides of the coin that make up Voice over IP.

"One thing that I have watched with interest is that there is this debate as to whether the voice companies would be more successful than the IP companies. I think that is now really behind us, as it's merging to the point where it's all about data systems with a voice flavour," Anderson says.

"I don't think you need to differentiate anymore. I think the successful ones are going to be the ones that have embraced both technologies for their strength and what they bring to the table."

"Even so, I think that those that come from a voice background still tend to think the world revolves around what the voice requirements are. It doesn't matter if it's Siemens, Nortel or Avaya, we still come from a voice background and we tend to be voice centric in terms of how we deliver that. Those that come from a data background are just the opposite. The most obvious one is Cisco, which is clearly bolting voice onto its extensive knowledge in data. But you've got to have both and be able to deliver on both."


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