October has been a busy month for vendor conferences, and this week marked the 2010 edition of BroadSoft Connections. I have followed BroadSoft for many years, and their capabilities continue to evolve in impressive ways. This year I'm participating in their conference remotely, but I have seen enough to share some pertinent insights here while the news is still fresh.
BroadSoft continues to post strong growth, and they're a prime example of a vendor for businesses to watch for where communications is going. If telephony is the hub of your communications platform, then you need to understand why BroadSoft is successful and how they can make businesses like yours better.
Over the last year, BroadSoft has made a strong shift to the cloud and have now formalized this with the launch of BroadCloud, their cloud-based UC infrastructure platform. BroadCloud is typically deployed by a service provider, so SMBs would be using their platform as part of an overall offering. BroadSoft started out enabling IP telephony, and while this is where many Focus followers are today, they have moved well beyond that. The cloud is only part of BroadSoft's story, and perhaps the most interesting aspect of their conference is the near absence of any reference to telephony.
While not every business needs all of these state-of-the-art tools, BroadSoft makes it look easy, and their demonstrations show proof-of-concept in a variety of ways. Not only can their BroadWorks platform enable a scalable Unified Communications solution for any type of business, but it's also the basis for an ongoing stream of new applications. We all know how popular apps stores have become for smartphones, and for BroadSoft, this concept is very relevant for businesses.
This is where things get really interesting for SMBs, because they can use BroadWorks to support virtually any type of customized communications application. Sometimes these applications are specific to a vertical segment, and sometimes they pertain to a particular business process, but in either case, customization is the key. Businesses should no longer think about telephony - or communications - as a fixed package of services with just a few menu options to choose from.
Part of embracing the world of Web services involves cultivating a community of developers which BroadSoft supports with their Xtended Marketplace. They have really expanded this community, and for businesses looking to quickly add new capabilities to better serve their customers, Xtended brings a strategic element to the communications value proposition. I should note that many of these applications are voice-based, and often focus on the customer.
One such example was a demonstration of an automated customer satisfaction survey that makes it easy to collect data on a continuous basis at very low cost. Using advanced speech recognition and IVR technology, customers have a very intuitive experience that leads to a high completion rate of surveys. Furthermore, being cloud-based, the business can access the data in near real-time and even modify questions on the fly to respond to fast-changing conditions. The key here is that surveys can be deployed and analyzed very quickly, giving a business new-found capabilities to better understand their customers.
Aside from the various panel discussions and demonstrations, a key takeaway from Connections was the keynote from the renowned author, Don Tapscott. He is a true global thought leader on the transformative nature of digital technology, and his ideas underscored the trend that BroadSoft is following - and arguably leading - in the world of hosted communications.
His main message was that collaboration and sharing is what makes the world go around, and networking technologies are at the heart of this driver. He provided numerous examples of traditional industries and sectors that are in trouble today, and makes the case that a command and control mentality is a big part of their undoing. Conversely, he cited many examples of how the openness of the Internet has been the great enabler of innovation that is giving rise to the next generation of leaders in all walks of life.
Don's scope is vast, and he's more concerned about how this makes our lives more meaningful than making businesses more successful. However, his underlying message ties in to BroadSoft's market focus - teamwork, sharing and collaboration are the hallmarks of a well run business. Furthermore, nobody understands this better than the Internet generation, and the faster businesses embrace this thinking, the better their chances of survival in today's always-on, always-connected world. This is definitely no place for a telephone sitting on a desk all by itself.
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