There’s been a great deal of hype in the world of team collaboration and cloud communications lately, particularly following the news at Microsoft Ignite. After the big reveal that Microsoft would be integrating their popular Skype for Business service into the “Teams” workstream app, vendors and customers across the globe have been forced to think carefully about how they want to move ahead with their UC strategies.
We caught up with BroadSoft, the unified communications as a service (UCaaS) marketplace leader, to find out how they feel about the Microsoft announcement, and what they can offer customers who might be uncertain about their collaboration future. I spoke to Mark Straton, the VP for product marketing and media, and Tony Lopresti, the Vice President and GM for Team Collaboration at BroadSoft.
What Do You Think About the Recent Microsoft Announcement?
Since the Microsoft Ignite decision to move Skype for Business over into Teams seems to be the “hot topic” for the UC space right now, the first thing I wanted to know was how BroadSoft felt about the whole ordeal. Mark started off by saying “Welcome to the party”, and followed up to discuss how BroadSoft is already pioneering team collaboration and unified communications in a single pane of glass.
“There’s a lot of hype around UC these days. I can say from experience that collaboration apps really do change how you work, and help to make companies more efficient. However, from a broader communications view, collaboration and communication are much more complex than people think. It’s not just putting telephony into a team messaging application, it’s about adapting the UC environment for unique use cases.”
BroadSoft has a huge global reach in the current UC marketplace, and they deal with a gigantic range of customers. In other words, the brand potentially knows better than anyone what it’s like to deal with a diverse network of users. To BroadSoft, the future of UC is about making collaboration simple.
What Does Making UC Simple Mean?
While the world of communication and collaboration has a lot to offer modern businesses, it’s also safe to say that plugging endless apps into your network isn’t going to help much with productivity. If businesses really want to thrive, then they need to make sure that they’re taking advantage of the latest technology, without falling victim to information overload.
According to Tony successful UC is about bringing traditional collaboration solutions like file sharing and real-time messaging, together with video conferencing, screen sharing, and other new services.
“The announcement to move Teams into Skype is a step in the right direction for Microsoft, as it’s about bringing two types of collaboration together. It reflects our own strategy. However, the difference is, because we’re a leader in the UC space, we focus on a diverse range of users that perhaps Microsoft hasn’t been concentrating on.”
Rather than pushing people to take all their collaboration solutions from the same box, like Microsoft does with Office 365, BroadSoft has built their USP around an open framework, that allows partners to package components and create unified experiences that are suited to the needs of diverse companies.
“We believe that it’s important to bring together UX and functionality, and make sure everything interoperates. That’s how we see ourselves as being different from Microsoft.”
Is Microsoft’s Road Map Clear for Businesses Right Now?
Continuing from our discussion about the Microsoft offering in comparison to the BroadSoft solution for UC, I was interested to find out whether BroadSoft considered the current Microsoft roadmap to be clear for today’s customers. Tony noted that he thinks that the roadmap is clearer when it comes to bringing together products that have started to overlap in the marketplace,
“However, there are more dispersed elements in the Microsoft portfolio to consider too, like SharePoint for instance. I think Microsoft might have a way to go when it comes to providing an experience that’s truly natural and integrated for the user – which is the area BroadSoft currently excels in.”
In fact, many Microsoft customers use the BroadSoft API to enable telephony and enterprise audioconferencing in the workplace. Tony confirmed that BroadSoft have the ability to connect with many Microsoft products, but they don’t focus entirely on Office 365:
“We want to create contact centre and collaboration solutions for the right people, in the right circumstances.”
“From a productivity standpoint, Microsoft obviously has a lot of productivity tools, but teams don’t want to be stuck with one vendor. Our BroadSoft Hub product is about enhancing collaboration by bringing together features from different channels.”
How Is BroadSoft Hub Battling Information Overload?
Mark suggested that beyond the United States, most companies don’t like to “double down” on a single vendor for all their communication and collaboration products. However, trying to run multiple solutions from different vendors at once can lead to complexity in the form of information overload, where messages are coming to workers from different angles throughout the day.
“The BroadSoft strategy is about taking the complexity out of the UC environment. Obviously, Microsoft has started to do that by integrating Skype with Teams, but we go a step further. With the BroadSoft Hub, you can have all your apps, content, and information in the same place, so that you have a more centralised approach to communication and collaboration.”
With BroadSoft Hub, all your UC experiences take place in the same space. What’s more, when you’re talking to someone, you have “content in common”, which means that you can access any files or emails you need during a conversation, without going to a different platform.
“While Microsoft would love consumers to use a Microsoft application for all their business functions, the reality is that teams like to use a diverse set of apps from different vendors. With BroadSoft, you can bring those diverse solutions together through the Hub, to standardise the experience in a single platform. We think that’s what makes BroadSoft different, and it could be a strategy that Microsoft will need to adopt for themselves in the future.”
In spite of all the changes in the marketplace, the biggest message from BroadSoft remains to be that they will fulfill their promise to companies, to create an intelligent, and integrated process for avoiding information overload.