BroadSoft Connections – Defining the Future
At the BroadSoft Connections conference in Phoenix last week, I had the opportunity to meet with lots of the BroadSoft folks, as well as many of their partners. In the BroadSoft world, partners are the service providers and carriers that use the BroadSoft platform and apps to offer cloud services to their customers. BroadSoft claims to have 12 million activated seats, and has 700 partners in 90 countries.
The theme of the conference was “Define the Future,” and BroadSoft CEO Mike Tessler did a great job of discussing how BroadSoft will help its partners grow and succeed by focusing on the end user experience.
Until recently, I didn’t follow BroadSoft too closely, as I viewed the company as more of an infrastructure provider that didn’t have much impact on the user experience. My conversations with the company were always technology focused, and I was more interested in their SP partners who focused more on the UCC solution and service.
I was pleased to learn that BroadSoft is going through a transition, due in large part to the impact of new CMO Taher Behbehani, who has been with the company for about a year. The focus on the end user experience was clear, as the company introduced Project Tempo, which it calls the “next evolution of UC,” as it integrates experiences from applications we use everyday and brings context into communications. Project Tempo is not a product, but is about bringing capabilities together to “let workers communicate and collaborate, and access the tools that make them productive any time, any place.” Project Tempo is “an initiative to drive the future of work, which is about shifting the dialog from communications to team collaboration and team productivity.”
ProjectTempo’s first deliverable is the beta release of UC-One Hub, a cloud service that combines real-time communications and enterprise messaging with contextual intelligence. The idea of UC-One Hub is to provide a central hub where workers start and end their day, with all of their work and communication capabilities in one place. It is a cloud service that provides direct access to cloud applications that have been pre-integrated with BroadSoft’s UC-One, including Twitter, Redbooth, Salesforce, Concur, Gmail, and Google Calendar. UC-One Hub is essentially a single pane of glass for accessing all of a user’s cloud-based apps. BroadSoft will make software libraries and APIs available so that UC-One Hub capabilities can be embedded into other applications such as Salesforce. As a cloud service, there are no plugins or clients that have to be downloaded, and the APIs can be updated as needed.
The contextual experience provided is pretty impressive. UC-One Hub can reach into and find information relevant to a conversation. For example, in the context of a call, UC-One Hub can do a real-time search of your Google Drive, Calendar, and Gmail in order to bring in the relevant information to an interaction.
According to Behbehani, Project Tempo and UC-One Hub will change the dialog from telephony to productivity, increasing the service providers’ relevance to its customers’ business, thus increasing revenues while decreasing churn. While it remains to be seen how many partners will deploy UC-One Hub and what portion of their customer base will adopt it, I believe that the work on Project Tempo shows that BroadSoft is moving in the right direction.
While it was nice to hear about Project Tempo, what made more of an impact on me was hearing from Behbehani about the way BroadSoft will help its partners succeed.
During a meeting Behbehani told me that “The news is that BroadSoft is news,” and that the company is doing a lot to help its partners. For example, for the first time BroadSoft will be doing co-branding with its partners. During various discussions throughout the event, I learned that while BroadSoft is dominant in the lower end of the market, many large enterprises opt to work with a service provider using the Cisco HCS platform, primarily because of the Cisco brand and the value that the Cisco name brings. In order to combat this, BroadSoft will work to better position its name and reputation by cobranding services with its partners.
BroadSoft is also increasing its visibility and role in the buyer’s journey. The buyer’s journey is something we’ve been hearing a lot about lately, as companies recognize that when customers are looking to purchase a product or service, they generally go through several steps, including research, to help inform their purchase decision. This research is increasingly being done on line, and digital marketing is playing a key role in the journey.
Behbehani noted that his team is doing a lot of work in understanding the buyer’s journey and defining a process for it, and has developed a digital marketing platform in order to better help its service provider partners sell their services to businesses. Service providers no longer need to focus on whether the cloud makes sense for a customer, but rather need to focus on why the customer should choose that particular provider and service, which is the last part of the buyer’s journey. BroadSoft has developed training programs and a digital platform to help train partners on benefit-led selling rather than focusing on technology or features and functions, and is delivering sales training and playbooks, onboarding programs, and other tools to streamline the sales process.
I also spoke with BroadSoft’s Michael Blauer (Director Analytics Program), who discussed the role of analytics to understand who’s using what, when, why, and when they’re not using it. Using BroadSoft’s analytics can provide insights into an organization’s actual activation of devices and capabilities, and how it compares with industry averages. In addition, understanding what’s being adopted and what customers are using can help the service providers refine their end user training in order to provide more value to customers.
It’s clear that the cloud market is changing, with OTT companies like RingCentral and 8x8 playing a crucial role, and providing significant competition to the telcos and other service providers. BroadSoft is working hard to reposition itself in order to “define the future” and enable its service provider partners to be more successful.
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