You might not know BroadSoft if you're not in the telecommunications space. But if you use a hosted unified communications service from a provider like Verizon, Swisscom, or any of about 500 other telcos around the world, you may be a BroadSoft customer without realizing it.
That's because BroadSoft made a strategic bet not to sell directly to enterprises. Rather, it assembles the pieces necessary for telcos to host and sell unified communications (UC) services -- think voice, messaging, video conferencing, and so on.
Michael Tessler cofounded BroadSoft in 1998 after coming from Alcatel, and has since grown it into a publicly traded company with annual revenue of more than $160 million. In a recent interview with IDG Enterprise Chief Content Officer John Gallant, Tessler explained how Broadsoft sees the hosted communications landscape and the role of mobile devices.
Here are some of the highlights:
Abstracting complexity is the key to success: "One of the most important things that we focus on is really making sure that the end users can actually effectively use all those capabilities .... The very massive amount of interoperability to all the devices that make up the solution, so handsets and gateways and all the things that need to be done, but the end user really doesn't want to know how complicated that is. We've done a tremendous amount of work in making sure all that is really simple, integrated, easy to use, so that the operators can deliver much more effectively."
Why the rise of mobile gives operators an edge in selling UC: "As mobile operators launch hosted unified communications solutions and all that unified communications capability now exists in their mobile core, now they'll be able to go to enterprises and basically present a fully integrated solution. What does that mean? Every employee gets a single subscription and then you, as an enterprise, can choose -- does that employee need a hard phone? Do they need a mobile? Do they need a soft line? Do they need two hard phones? Do they need a hard phone at their house and their remote office? All of that now changes to really treating this thing as one, one single subscription .... This is where our integration and strategic alignment with mobile operators is critical for delivering on the next-generation mobile enterprise solution. We really feel great about the strategic choice we've made. I think selling directly to enterprises would be a distraction."
Watch out for "open" solutions that aren't really open: "I think competitively you have lots of vendor lock-in, which ultimately goes against the whole concept of moving unified communications into the cloud. As an enterprise you want to be able to use the max devices. You want to be able to pick phones. You want to be able to pick clients. You want to be able to integrate with your technologies. You maybe will want to substitute out a particular element of the UC stack for something you think is better or fits better in your environment. You want to be able to have that flexibility in these solutions. Unfortunately, the unified communications field talks a lot about openness and interoperability, but everybody seems to be selling closed solutions with very little openness."
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