Unified Communications

What's the Best Approach to Unifying UC? BroadSoft's New Offerings, and Some of the Other Contenders

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  December 22, 2015

Employees now have a wealth of productivity applications at their fingertips due to the smartphone and app store revolution. At the same time, many workers spend a lot of their time in particular applications such as Google Apps for Work, Office 365, and Salesforce. Meanwhile, businesses are doing their best both to manage the bring-your-own-device trend, and drive up worker productivity, while keeping down their own costs.

So does it make more sense to meet customers where they are – as the new Avaya (News - Alert)-Esna pairing, and various Salesforce ecosystem partners, are doing? Or is aggregating a variety of communications capabilities with a collection of popular productivity apps – as BroadSoft and Slate are doing – the best approach?

Time will tell. But here are some details on what’s new on this front from BroadSoft, and a look at the many others in the UC space.

BroadSoft, which provides the software that powers many service providers’ business UC offerings, in late October unveiled a cloud service that enables business users to manage all their different modes of communications and various popular apps – all via a single pane of glass. That will, for example, allow me to see the LinkedIn (News - Alert) profiles of the people I’m communicating with at any moment, so I don’t have to take the extra step of logging into LinkedIn to get that information.

The effort by BroadSoft to bring everything together is called Project Tempo, and its UC-One Hub cloud service ­– which brings together popular apps with communications and offers contextual intelligence – is the first deliverable of the effort. A beta of UC-One Hub is slated to become available in the first quarter of next year, and will initially run on BroadSoft’s UC-One Communicator using Google Chrome, and feature off-the-shelf integrations with Concur, Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Drive, Redbooth, and Twitter. The company expects to add integrations for LinkedIn, Salesforce, and other popular over-the-top applications in the near future.

With UC-ONE Hub, BroadSoft CMO Taher Behbehani told me in an October interview: “If you want to work you go to this one place. You start your day there, and you end your day there.”

UC-One Hub and Project Tempo are being delivered in response to BroadSoft’s service provider customers’ as well as enterprise customers’ stated desire to solve the problem of fragmentation in the communications and collaboration space, added Behbehani.  BroadSoft’s go to market is via public network operators; in fact, its software is used today by 26 of the top 30 global service providers to deliver UC capabilities to their business customers. UC-One Hub and Project Tempo are being offered as a “bolt-on” solution to the company’s existing offers, said Behbehani, adding that allows service providers to leverage their existing investments in BroadSoft solutions and take them to the next level.

BroadSoft CEO Michael Tessler commented: “We believe that Project Tempo is an innovative initiative that extends BroadSoft’s position as a UCaaS global market leader, creates new revenue sources for service providers, and meets the communications and collaboration needs of the emerging millennial workforce majority.” ?

While service providers will continue to be BroadSoft’s dominant channel going forward, Behbehani said that the company’s brand will become more prominent in these relationships going forward, and mentioned the idea of cobranding. BroadSoft is also exploring going to market with a freemium model “to make this more viral,” Behbehani said, adding that the company’s new solutions will be very scalable, so they can address the needs of the smallest business to the largest enterprise.

BroadSoft’s established position with the service providers is definitely its strong suit. And with this new strategy, Behbehani noted, BroadSoft will help better position its service providers for success in the future as the over-the-top threat continues to mount.

Helping service providers better address the over-the-top threat is also a key theme GENBAND (News - Alert) has been promoting. As discussed in the June issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine, GENBAND reminds us about how companies like Facebook, fring (which it now owns), Viber, and WhatsApp (which Facebook (News - Alert) now owns) have been eating away at carriers’ SMS and voice revenues for some time now.

BroadSoft is also not the only company on the scene talking about aggregating popular apps so business users don’t have to go to one app to do one kind of thing and another for another. Slate has garnered a lot of attention recently with its UC strategy on this front.

Indeed, in the October issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine our standing columnist Jon Arnold explained that Slack is really a hub where third-party applications seamlessly work together. Slate, he wrote, currently supports about 80 of them and is adding to that all the time.

“Familiar names include Box, Dropbox, GitHub, Google Drive/Calendar/+Hangouts, GoToMeeting, and Zendesk,” Arnold wrote. “Aside from being able to share content across these applications, its search feature makes it easy to find everything. Of course, the platform is optimized for mobile devices, and there’s no question it knows where and how their users live.”

Meanwhile, Microsoft – which already owns the business desktop but is working to catch on up the mobile front – continues to expand its influence in unified communications with Skype for Business, formerly known as Lync. For more on the latest on that front, check out the story “Microsoft Educates ITEXPO Attendees on Skype for Business” in this section.

Then you have other leading players like Google and Salesforce, which continue to expand their influence in business applications and communications both individually and via ecosystems; as well as a wide array of UC companies like Avaya (see the story “Avaya, with Esna Now Under Its Wing, Meets Customers Where They Are” in this section), Cisco, Citrix (News - Alert), and others; and a growing number of mobile apps that enable OTT communication and collaboration.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere