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When a pet owner buys a new puppy, she knows the price she pays to walk out the door with sloppy kisses is only the initial cost of pet ownership. Instead, many financial factors will contribute to the health and behavior of her new life-long companion and, likewise, relationship with her wallet. Despite the seemingly simple concept, businesses decision makers aslo need to fully examine the big price picture of technology investments when comparing the total-cost-of-ownership (TCO) – most noticeably between premise-based to hosted Unified Communication (UC) systems.
Window shopping, premise-based UC systems are appearing to have the lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and attract buyers who do not look into limitations in scalability or functionality, as well as hidden costs impacting productivity. BroadSoft’s whitepaper brings clarity to decision-makers by comparing the actual costs and features of today’s hosted and premise-based UC systems, including the following TCO areas:
- System & capital costs
- Maintenance, management & support
- Equipment housing & power
- IT staffing
For more information, please read the full whitepaper or contact your BroadSoft sales representative.
Artificial Intelligence, The Terminator, Post-Humanism, Bionic Limbs, Singularity…As the power of technology continues to surpass human ability in new and rapid ways, our fascination and often fear of machines ask us to question the boundaries of human interaction and the artificial. While predictions and theory vary and even contradict one another, there seems to be a consensus on a need for balance. We see this need often today; whether it is a customer caught in a calling queue or a caller sent to a desktop voicemail over a live mobile human. When it comes to a business’s call center offering, the quest for balance takes front-line.
Service providers must answer the call for an innovative solution to the growing struggle between human response and mechanical communication. As an integral piece of any business’s customer service offering, we believe the move toward hosted call centers offers the flexibility, functionality and visibility required to move end-customers quickly to a live voice without wasting time or resources. Today, service providers leverage hosted communication services to boost human communication through productivity features and on-going application integration, all while minimizing human and environmental risk with automatic maintenance and business continuity.
More and more, we see the end-customer seeking an intuitive call center solution that allows optimal, live customer service while taking advantage of hosted unified communication technology. Micah Solomon, entrepreneur and customer systems innovator, writes for Fast Company on the growing need for live support as organizations place more services in the hands of technology:
Online customers are literally invisible to you (and you to them), so it’s easy to shortchange them emotionally…This lack of visual and tactile presence makes it even more crucial to create a sense of personal, human-to-human connection.
Following such demand, BroadSoft’s own BroadWorks® Call Center application recently released new enhancements allowing service providers the scalability to extend their hosted call center offering into enterprises with higher call volumes and more complex reporting requirements. Taking full advantage of the benefits of a hosted solution, such as low-upfront cost and scalability, the BroadWorks® Call Center application opens new revenue streams from premise-based platforms.
A modern day Thomas Edison. The Jack Welch of the telecommunications industry. If you have not yet heard of Dr. Hossein Eslambolchi, his biography does not make for light reading (
). Well known for his revolutionary role with AT&T as President of Bell Laboratories, CIO and CTO until 2006, Business Week has labeled him “a critical player in maintaining AT&T’s status as a technology leader” (12/2005). Eslambolchi has leveraged both his visionary entrepreneurial and engineering skills (named “Inventor of the Year” by the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame 2001) to act as advisor and board member to dozens of companies he has helped to transform. We see this currently with Clearwire’s transition from retail to wholesale network provider. BroadSoft, the leading, worldwide innovator of Voice over IP (VoIP) applications, grilled the often prophetic thought leader on what’s next for the telecommunications industry.
BroadSoft: As a renowned telecommunications strategist, you are known to help set the foundation on what’s next for the industry. So, we have to ask – what’s next?
Eslambolchi: I have been pushing hard for the past 15 years that everything will be moving toward IP; and predicted by 2010 VoIP would be the primary source of all business communication and by 2015 would be the primary source of all consumer communications. We are not too far from it, as more and more businesses have transitioned to VoIP (due to cost, quality, scalability, flexibility, etc). And with FTTX & 4G – VoIP has started to reach out to consumers.
BroadSoft: You see a large market opportunity for VoIP and the end consumer?
Eslambolchi: VoIP is clearly a transformative, converged technology that offers significant benefits for corporation and consumers alike. By 2015 VoIP won’t be an option for voice telephony; it will be the standard – as ubiquitous as the copper wire has been in the past.
BroadSoft: You mention ubiquity. How do you see IP, mobile, and the connected consumer moving forward?
Eslambolchi: Communications must be building around the user, instead of the user having to adapt to their devices. IP convergence will allow you to plug one device into a broadband network to instantly meet all your communications needs. We are reaching the era of the smart environment – smart homes and all of its appliances, smart cars which will integrate with all of our devices from GPS to ipad, iphone, Android, facebook, twitter, and of course smart offices.
Mobile phones will be able to move between VoIP networks, and wireless networks without the user ever noticing a change – a huge boost for reliability and range of use. 4G is the promise of the future for broadband as they fully and easily interconnect with wide range of individual devices, a capability that earlier wireless technologies lacked. It will support all sorts of converged services, including conferencing, training, entertainment, gaming, advertising, mobile banking, NFC, etc. SMS, MMS, pictures, gaming, video, and many other apps will be integrated with voice so that if you drop a call, or need to remain quite in a conference room or at home, you can continue your conversation and other apps.
BroadSoft: BroadSoft recently announced HD video conferencing service, BroadCloud Video. What are your predictions for multimedia, video and IP?
Eslambolchi: Video will be the new voice. IMS will be the springboard for seamless delivery of multimedia streams across mobile and wired devices. And IMS helps enable XoIP service and video services such as video conferencing, video training, video peering between multiple independent networks which will work similar to voice.
BroadSoft: What is the XoIP opportunity for video?
Eslambolchi: XoIP infrastructure allows the service to adjust and adapt to the access technologies the user has at his/her disposal. You record a video message, but the other party does not have access to the video device. The message will automatically covert to the service layer from audio-video format into an audio message or SMS. These XoIP apps on all services will allow you to take your call at home, easily transfer to your car (hands-free), and once you are in the office to transfer it to a audio-video desk phone, and vice versa.
BroadSoft: Our service providers, partners, and end customers have played a critical role in the evolution of IP technology and services. As such, how do you see this VoIP community evolving?
Eslambolchi: BroadSoft plays a key role in all of the above conversations; as they have been the pioneer of the XoIP feature and application services for past 12 years. While others had doubts about VoIP, IMS, FTTX, FMC, 4G; BroadSoft continued to push forward with their innovation. The innovations from BroadSoft enabled so much for us during the past 12 years in wireline XoIP; that now we can take advantage of all of the experience, development, and applications as they all will be extended toward 4G. These will also be the converged XB services of combined wired and wireless networks in a ubiquitous, always available, mobile broadband network.
I have personally invited many executives from our industry to stop by the BroadSoft booth in CTIA and encourage everyone to do the same.
Back in January, we predicted that we’d see lots of service providers launch Hosted PBX or Hosted UC services in 2011. I’m thrilled to see that XO Communications has announced Enterprise Cloud Communications – a hosted UC offer targeted at the midmarket enterprise.
XO has brought many great services to market over the last few years – their XO IP Flex service, XO SIP trunking service, and XO Enterprise SIP (ESIP) Trunking have all been market winners, as shown by their announcement last year that they are serving over one million business VoIP users. In addition, XO has consistently differentiated their market offers – XO Anywhere added a mobility angle to their trunking services, and ESIP Trunking has changed the game for large enterprise trunking services.
Now with a Hosted Unified Communications offer, XO expands their portfolio. This is good for XO customers – they get the economic, technology, and productivity benefits of hosted communications, and it’s good for XO – as we see our market shifts more and more applications to the cloud, we believe XO is armed and ready to meet this demand.
In particular, what I find exciting about XO Enterprise Cloud Communications is its focus on midmarket customers. Another trend we’re seeing across the world is a movement towards adoption of hosted solutions in the midmarket. Traditionally the midmarket segment has primarily utilized premises-based PBX solutions, but when you consider that most midmarket companies are multi-site, oriented towards productivity-heavy workers, highly mobile, and demanding video – we think all those attributes make a hosted or cloud communications solution extremely appealing to the midmarket customer.
So congratulations to XO for their announcement – another step forward in our industry’s move towards hosted UC solutions.
Are you always the last to hear office gossip? Always seem to stumble over what-seemed-to-be good ideas in business meetings? Do work associates make jokes about your tie (“it’s just too trendy for them, right?”)? Well, now it’s your chance to be part of the in-crowd with BroadSoft’s Trend Watch 2011 report. Be the first to know what’s hip, what’s fresh, and what the great ideas are before they happen, as the worldwide leader and innovator of IP technology hands you a sneak-peak into what we think the telecommunication “do’s” of 2011 will be.
Do’s (2011) versus Don’t (2010):
- The Connected Consumer vs. The Mobile Consumer
Tablets and smartphones were on everyone’s hot list this holiday season. As we wind our way through 2011, we believe emerging devices will proliferate across the realm of operating systems- offering utilitarian technology benefits in speed and performance as mobile platforms battle. Whether reading an e-book, listening to a family member’s music playlist, or getting directions, we expect trendy consumers will not only seek out these mobile devices –they will find a seamless connection between their connected devices a must-have for 2011.
- Business Applications vs. Consumer Applications
On average, the U.S. downloaded about 3 million of the top 300 apps per day in December. In our view, 2011 will continue to be a year of mobile app craze; however, businesses will quickly become the new consumer. Already one of the fastest growing categories in the App Store, the business app category was up (+186%) in 2010, according to Distimo. We expect to see “in” service providers catching onto the craze by offering value-added applications for every business’s both niche and universal needs, such as: Productivity apps, Communication & Collaboration, CRM, Mobility, Business Process Integration (Act!, Lotus Notes, etc), and more.
- HD Video Conferencing vs. The Traditional IP Deskphone
Did you just click through your in-box as you talked to your business partner over the phone? That’s so 2010! Offering a cost-effective method to add value to your communications experience, we anticipate that truly trendy businesses and consumers will use HD video from the cloud in 2011. Offering an always-on virtual bridge, trend setters connect to business prospects, partners, and peers in HD Video from the cloud — a must for 2011 for the rich communications experience everyone deserves. Apart from this new staple, consumers have also caught wind of the trend and are using the up-and-coming technology to stay in touch with relatives and friends with family center.
2011’s Hit or Miss: UC from the Cloud
If you were on the fence in 2010, you’re already on the “miss” list as the New Year begins. We see hip businesses – large and small –taking advantages of UC services from the cloud in 2011. While even water-cooler dropouts are mostly likely “in” on the productivity and economic benefits of UC, we expect those service providers in-the-know to offer a continuation of UC perks for business offerings this year plus, now, the advantages of the new BroadCloud offerings. These include HD video, web-based collaboration, integrated message & presence features, and VoIP management solutions for the forward-looking service provider who can offer always on, effective communication services.
Don’t be a victim of the trend police this year. Follow the advice in this Trend Watch report and subscribe to this blog roll for continued in-the-know news, opinion, and advice on the latest in communication technology. Have something to add to the list? Disagree with a trend? Let us know below.
I’m generally not fond of ‘top ten predictions for the New Year’ type posts, so, instead, I will focus on just one specific prediction. In 2011 – I expect to see a surge in new announcements of hosted business offerings from service providers.
I do not believe this is a bold prediction. Even in the last few months of 2010, we’ve seen service providers, who have historically been “trunking only”, make a move to deliver hosted/cloud offerings. BroadVox’s acquisition of Cypress has shown their interest in leveraging Cypress’s award-winning C3IP and C4IP “UC as a Service” solutions; separately, CBeyond’s acquisition of Aretta and MaximumASP likewise demonstrates movement more firmly into the hosted solution space.
Things tend to happen in the market when incentives align – it seems to me, that’s what’s happening here:
- Service providers that are “trunking only” are looking to go up the value chain, and, therefore, as I believe and have received feedback of, they are rightly concerned about commoditization problems, downward pricing pressure and a lack of differentiation.
- Market numbers continue to substantiate a large movement to hosted VoIP as businesses continue to adopt hosted models.
- The Agent and Channel community is looking for hosted solutions they can sell –clearly perceiving this demand as evident by, for example, the recent Channel Partners Conference – which pushed an agenda almost entirely devoted to hosted business solutions.
When “trunking only” service providers go ‘up the stack’ and also sell Hosted Business solutions – when they sell an app as well as connectivity and transport–customer feedback demonstrates a large growth in revenue and greater relevancy to the customer, with less churn and more customer mindshare. I expect to see many more similar announcements from service providers in 2011.
At our annual executive users’ conference in October, I talked about three ways the BroadSoft ecosystem can “connect our networks” in order to deliver the superior user experience and communication services being demanded today. In my opinion, our ecosystem needs to:
- Create the largest, innovative developer network
- Share our successes in order to grow awareness of hosted communication solutions
- Connect our networks to deliver ubiquitous high-definition voice and video
Let me share more on how you can drive growth and productive conversation in each of these areas.
Create the largest, innovative developer network
At BroadSoft we have spent the last 18 months investing in the design and development of our Xtended program, which is comprised of three elements: 1) RESTful APIs, 2) a robust developer program & 3) an e-Commerce enabled marketplace. We have committed both time and financial resources to all aspects of this program, enabling our customers to open their networks and mutually benefit from the investments of third party developers.
BroadSoft’s global service provider customers deliver communication services to over half a billion individuals in both their work and personal lives. A uniquely attractive audience to third-party developers, the desire and capabilities to build innovative applications will only increase as our ecosystem encourages this growth. Integration of communication services with additive innovative offerings and web-based applications, such as CRM services, increase the value of our IP-based networks, helping us retain our existing customers and attract new customers. So I am asking the BroadSoft customer base to:
- Open the Xtended APIs on their network
- Customize and launch an Xtended Marketplace and
- Join the community in recruiting new developers and promoting their applications
Everything that is needed to get started has been built and tested. Since BroadSoft Connections, I have personally reached out to several of our service provider customers who appreciate the value of BroadSoft Xtended. They have agreed to lead the charge in this effort – I hope you will join them.
Share our successes in order to grow awareness of hosted communication solutions
Another way we can jointly drive the adoption of hosted communications is by connecting our networks in terms of combined marketing power. By sharing our successes and detailed case studies, we help better define the value enterprises and individuals are experiencing through hosted communications. Through the global communication of such value, we will mutually drive the increased adoption of hosted unified communications, which has reached its highest growth level since 2008 (Dell’Oro Group, 2010).
While the awareness has grown significantly, we have a long way to go. We want every business owner and decision maker to realize they have a choice: to use a hosted service versus tying up people and capital on deploying out-dated enterprise based systems. I personally hear from our customers amazing and motivating success stories that they have helped enterprises succeed in their primary business purpose when they are no longer worried about their communication services. They are entrusting the experts in telecommunications to keep their businesses running.
I am asking all BroadSoft customers to share these success stories. In order to facilitate this openness, we introduced a new Web site, Xcelerate, with the single goal of helping you become more successful in launching and selling hosted UC. There are many great resources available on the site (Marketing Campaign Tools, Sales Battlecards, Demonstration Videos, and much more) and I encourage all BroadSoft customers to use these tools, while also contributing to the group.
Connect our networks to deliver ubiquitous high-definition voice and video
For a number of years, we have talked about the connection of our networks over IP to enable global high-definition voice and video. With the tremendous interest in high definition audio and video, we must connect our individual islands if we are to benefit from this growth. As I travel around the world, the interest level around SIP based video is exploding in both fixed and mobile networks and the time to interconnect is now. There are several companies, such as PCCW Global, focused on enabling this interconnectivity. I encourage everyone to talk with these companies in order to find ways to bridge our islands and take the upmost advantage of this unique opportunity before it passes us by.
The delivery of high-quality, superior communication experience, is our business. We cannot let others erode it. Let’s start by connecting our networks in these three ways. Please let me know what you think by commenting below.
The days of questioning the availability, security and even the quality of VoIP (and all IP-based communication services) are over. With the ubiquity of broadband connectivity and the proliferation of IP-powered devices, access to services from “the cloud” is now a part of our daily lives. Whether viewing your finances in an online banking app (because after all isn’t logging into an account online accessing a “cloud” somewhere) or managing your critical customer information through a hosted CRM solution, we all have come to rely on “cloud” based services.
We have over 425 telecommunications service providers world-wide managing communication clouds to deliver IP-based services to their business and consumers customers, ensuring the immediate availability of every possible communication option …texting, IM, voice, video, web collaboration, the options go on and on. Our telecom service provider customers are also empowering their customers by allowing individuals and professionals to personalize their communication services and manage all of their communication devices from a single, web-based account.
But what is still an area of focus is the “readiness” of a SMB’s network for IP-based communications services. Gartner predicted over 50% of SMBs are not ready for a VoIP deployment. In need of a network assessment for a successful deployment, 60% of SMBs experienced monthly disruptions in their voice-data networks as reported by the Computing Technology Industry Association (read the PacketSmart whitepaper for full details). With such a heavy reliance on “the cloud”, ensuring any network, whether an enterprise LAN or a consumer home network, is configured to optimize IP connections for a superior communication experience is essential to our customers.
As many of you know, BroadSoft purchased PacketSmart, a deep-packet assessment and monitoring service, in late 2010. Our customers have quickly recognized the value in BroadSoft PacketSmart as the solution has continued to ensure the end-user experience is never sub-par and paired with the highest-quality service. Don’t take our word for it. Hear for yourself:
- Industry analyst details the value of BroadSoft PacketSmart as an essential QoS UC tool (No Jitter):
“PacketSmart has proved itself as invaluable tool in isolating issues, and to ensuring we are providing the best quality of service possible.”
- Steve Francesco, CEO Chairman and President, Cohere Communications
“PacketSmart enables us to easily perform remote analysis of a customer network to determine if the network is ready for applications such as VoIP and maintain optimum performance post-deployment. Since it is an affordable, hosted solution, PacketSmart eliminates the need to purchase and manage expensive network monitoring software and allows us to provide these network performance services much more cost effectively than other solutions.”
- Bill Tomlinson, IT Solutions Director, Stewart and Associates.
“PacketSmart allows us to make certain that the customer network is truly IP ready prior to implementation, both voice and increasingly video. This saves us not only time but more importantly ensures that everything is 100% optimized in the eyes of the customer. IPFone is dedicated to delivering the most advanced IP services with the highest level of service quality. Utilizing PacketSmart is another important way that we differentiate ourselves from our competitors.”
- Jonathan Lieberman, President/CEO, IPFone
“Packet Island’s technology has given us line of sight into areas of the customer’s own network that was virtually impossible to monitor previously, and at a price point that made the decision to partner with Packet Island easy. ENA prides itself on world class customer service, and Packet Island is a key component in that support strategy”
- Simon Weller, Director of Product Design, ENA
“One of the biggest challenges in delivering VoIP products to the SMB market is ensuring the call quality. Since businesses rely on their phone service for day-to-day operation, customers will not tolerate poor quality, dropped calls or even service outages. The best management of quality is to identify problems before they have an impact and if the quality is compromised, quick diagnosis and resolution. Packet Island provides the solution to this with their monitoring device backed by a very responsive and knowledgeable team. The solution allows for rapid identification and possible remedies without the need to devote resources and time. ”
- Pete Llewelyn, CTO, Vinculum Communications
Read for more about BroadSoft PacketSmart.
Congratulations to Verizon for the launch of their Global Fixed Mobile Convergence service, announced this month and immediately available in nine countries across Europe.
The Global FMC service has both “top-line” and “bottom-line” benefits to Verizon’s customers. On the top-line side, employees remain productive across Europe in any of the nine countries served by Global FMC; on the bottom-line, managers benefit from reduced costs for employees who use their mobile as an extension of their business handset.
According to Anthony Recine, vice president of network and communications solutions for Verizon Business, “With Global Fixed Mobile Convergence, companies no longer need to wrestle with productivity versus cost management to keep their business in full gear. This innovative new service helps on-the-go workers remain in touch with customers and other business colleagues while reducing the cumulative roaming charges for hundreds or thousands of roving workers.”
What’s been less noted, I think, is the positive impact this will have on Verizon Business’s hosted business service – Hosted IP Centrex (HIPC). Verizon already delivers a successful “cloud”/hosted business service that’s deployed across Europe and the Americas; the introduction of Global FMC extends this functionality to mobile handsets. It’s well-demonstrated that the value of hosted applications increases dramatically when you add a mobile component. For example, consider how many people update Facebook exclusively from mobile devices.
So congratulations to Verizon – another service provider igniting progress and changing the game with Global FMC and expanding their hosted business solutions to mobile devices.
In a big announcement made last week at the Cloud Computing Expo, eight BroadSoft customers unveiled the Cloud Communications Alliance, a consortium dedicated to bringing unified communications to businesses in a smarter, easier and more strategic manner – because it’s delivered as a hosted “cloud” application.
This consortium is made up of a great group of companies. Alteva, Broadcore, Callis Communications, Consolidated Technologies, IPFone, SimpleSignal, Stage 2 Networks, and Telesphere have all been huge innovators in our space. And this Alliance shows that they’re just as innovative in business models as they are with technology and market offers.
What I like about this is that the Alliance isn’t just talking about hosted voice or hosted PBX – they’re changing the game in lots of different ways:
- End-to-End High Definition Voice for business-to-business HD (not just intra-company islands);
- End-to-End availability of video for business-to-business video;
- Mobile phone integration, including apps like IPFone’s iPhone applications;
- Nationwide disaster recovery and business continuity; and
- Business App mashups with Microsoft Office Communicator, Salesforce.com, and much more.
The Alliance has gotten tons of well deserved press on this already (Network World, TMCnet, VoIP Planet, Billing & OSS World and WirelessWeek). This is great coverage, which brings a lot more visibility to the power and benefits of hosted business communications.
But the real news, I believe, is that what we’re seeing now is an adoption shift, not a development shift. We’re at the point where the hosted/cloud UC solutions are real, proven and ready – and now the shift we’ll see is about adoption: more customers becoming aware of and choosing to go with a hosted/cloud option. I believe that the creation of the Alliance is a huge step forward in accelerating that adoption shift.
So cheers to the Cloud Communications Alliance, which has changed the game yet again.