BroadSoft Affirms Allegiance to Service Provider Success
Oct 30, 2015
In the last week of October, BroadSoft held its annual partner and customer event dubbed BroadSoft Connections. During two packed days, BroadSoft demonstrated its commitment to technology innovation and service provider success. With about 1,200 attendees and 70 service provider organizations represented at the event, BroadSoft affirmed its considerable presence in the next-generation communications market, including hosted PBX and unified communications as-a-service (UCaaS), SIP trunking and residential voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) services. BroadSoft’s recently announced 12 million installed hosted seats further reinforced the company’s powerful position in the hosted IP telephony market.
One of the key messages of the event was BroadSoft’s focus on enabling service provider success in the evolving marketplace through UCaaS and other innovative services. Unlike PBX vendors, which are also looking to establish presence in the cloud UC market through service provider partners, BroadSoft has no premises-based solutions or channels to compete with service provider offerings powered by its flagship BroadWorks platform and BroadCloud service. BroadCloud is positioned to facilitate more expedient and cost-effective service provider market entry or expansion rather than enable value-added resellers (VARs) and/or local interconnects to compete with BroadSoft service provider partners.
Service providers at the event shared abundant feedback about the numerous benefits of their BroadSoft partnerships. BroadSoft has worked closely with its provider partners to ensure their solutions better address local market conditions and customer requirements. Many providers emphasized the significant cost advantages of BroadSoft’s platforms. According to providers using multiple UCaaS solutions, the multi-tenant BroadSoft BroadWorks platform offers greater scalability and cost efficiencies compared to alternative multi-instance platforms and older generation multi-tenant solutions. Several providers are looking to deploy BroadWorks for all new customers and transition some existing accounts to the BroadSoft platform due to its compelling price/performance value proposition.
BroadSoft revealed several product enhancements and technology development initiatives. A common element across most of these was BroadSoft’s keen focus on the user experience: from solution evaluation and procurement, to deployment and ongoing management, to the end-user interface, and more. One specific initiative involves significant enhancements to the customer digital journey, in particular for micro businesses and others looking for automated solution provisioning and self-care. BroadSoft demonstrated a 15-minute UCaaS purchase-and-installation process for a 4-user business. Much of the innovation taking place around the user interface is provided by BroadSoft Design, a new group within BroadSoft leveraging resources from recently acquired mPortal, which brought tremendous expertise in the design of customer experiences across mobile, web and other connected devices.
BroadSoft used the event as a forum to announce the availability of a full UC-One feature suite in BroadCloud, which brings more value to service providers choosing to outsource those services through BroadSoft. The vendor also presented development around its UC-One Connect and UC-One Meetings apps, which enable mobile users to more efficiently communicate and collaborate with others. Throughout the event, BroadSoft strongly emphasized its mobile-first approach to technology development. A guest speaker from Google encouraged the BroadSoft community to think mobile-only rather than mobile-first when preparing for the future of business communications.
What most intrigued the audience, however, was project Tempo. After some initial confusion that BroadSoft is creating a Slack-like app, it became clear that the vendor is building on the UC-One technology foundation to provide a richer and more streamlined communications and collaboration experience for its end customers. Project Tempo’s first deliverable, UC-One Hub, turns BroadSoft’s UC client UC-One Communicator (Chrome version initially) into a convenient portal to a broader set of integrated communications and productivity apps to align closely with the original (and still elusive) industry vision for the ultimate UC solution.
The interface includes three integrated vertical menus. The leftmost menu contains links to multiple mini-apps, including the user’s contacts, calendar, Gmail mailbox, Google Drive, Redbooth, Concur, and a potentially unlimited (or more accurately, customer-selected) set of communications and productivity apps. The buttons in this leftmost menu allow the user to take quick action in these integrated apps without fully exiting the UC Communicator interface. The center menu is where most of the action takes place; it’s where users manage real-time communications and messages. If the user selects a person from the contact list in the left menu, a third vertical menu appears to display various contextual information about the selected contact, including recently exchanged files, the user’s Twitter activity and information from other integrated apps.
Overall, UC-One Hub aims to reduce the hassle of switching back and forth among various applications that a typical user accesses in the course of their daily activities. This will enhance user productivity and provide valuable contextual intelligence to make user interactions and overall performance more effective. Admittedly, this is a BroadSoft-centric approach, whereby the experience begins in UC-One Communicator. BroadSoft is, however, also embedding its communications solutions into Lync/Skype for Business, salesforce.com and other apps that are the central hubs for many users who do not spend a major part of their day in UC-One Communicator.
While it is clear that with project Tempo BroadSoft doesn’t aim to create a Slack or Glip alternative, there are plans to eventually integrate it with team collaboration solutions as well as introduce advanced enterprise messaging capabilities such as persistent chat and team rooms. Filtering and user interactions are currently based on contacts (e.g., the filtering or interaction capabilities are initiated by selecting a user from the contact list first). BroadSoft has indicated that, in the future, filtering may become available by topic or other criteria. Going forward, BroadSoft will also provide unified directory services that allow service providers to federate BroadSoft capabilities to enterprises outside their network boundaries.
UC-One Hub will be available as a beta test version in Q1 2016. It will be free of charge to UC-One customers (through a select group of service providers). Initially, UC-One Hub will be hosted by BroadSoft. During beta trials, BroadSoft will determine other applications to integrate in the Hub.
BroadSoft is also providing open-source software, SDKs, APIs and software libraries to enable third-party developers to create their own custom application integrations and embed UC-One capabilities into other third-party user experiences.
Other new capabilities were showcased at Connections including enhancements to the service provider portal, partnerships with analytics and OSS/BSS vendors and so on. Overall, BroadSoft appears to be keenly aware of market trends (such as mobility, integrations, customization, etc.) and is working hard to promptly address service provider and end-user pain points.
BroadSoft has led the hosted IP telephony and UCC services market for a decade and a half. Its strong technology capabilities and unwavering commitment to the service provider community differentiate it from most other UCaaS vendors. Its large installed base and dominant share of hosted UC users prove its ability to execute. But the market is rapidly evolving and BroadSoft needs to evolve with it. If you attended Connections, what were your takeaways?
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