Unified Communications Featured Article

Broadsoft: Brings Real Business Benefit to ITEXPO

January 19, 2015

Unified communications provider Broadsoft offers a simplified, innovative and accelerated approach to communication and collaboration to the enterprise based on user need. The industry leading provider will be taking part in the upcoming ITEXPO, as its Director of Solutions Product management Asif Rehman will join other thought leaders in the panel discussion “What is Real Unified Communications, Really?”

The Panel will define “real” UC, and what it can do for your business. Rehman offers attendees expertise accrued over 20 years of experience in the telecom industry working with firms both large and small. Leading up to the premiere business technology event of the season, Rehman offered TMC some insight on some of the trends from 2014, what to expect at ITEXPO and 2015 as well.

What do you think of Microsoft’s decision to rebrand Lync as Skype for Business?

Asif Rehman: Stakeholders in the enterprise messaging and communications market stood up and took notice in November when Microsoft announced the renaming of Lync as “Skype for Business.” The attention is warranted; there are approximately 300 million Skype users, and the calling and messaging provider has, in effect, become its own long distance carrier. 

Skype for Business saddles telco providers with a critical business decision: whether or not to promote and sell Skype for Business. We believe mobile operators and service providers that promote and sell Skype for Business will be legitimizing a brand they have considered a “best effort” service for the value seeking consumer. Promoting and selling Skype for Business can also mean that service providers will be undermining one of their core revenue streams that still represent hundreds of billions of dollars – voice. This is due to the fact that the continued integration of Lync and Skype brings a scenario clearer into focus whereby Microsoft enables enterprises to bypass the service provider’s voice network by providing Skype to PSTN (SkypeOut) calling. As a result, service providers that resell Skype for Business validate Skype as a legitimate telco service; further confusing the role the Telco satisfies in the future business communications market.

How is WebRTC enhancing communications today, and what is its potential in the longer term?

AR: Today, many of the initial WebRTC-enabled applications explored by enterprises focus on an enhanced customer experience through real-time, browser-based voice and video calling capabilities such as click-to-call. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that businesses view WebRTC as a way to extend real-time Unified Communications (UC) beyond the confines of the enterprise.

Over time, there is much greater potential for WebRTC to enable enterprises to extend the reachability, productivity and efficiency benefits of Unified Communications beyond the enterprise – to any customer, partner or supplier with a WebRTC-enabled browser. By extending the benefits of UC to an enterprise's entire ecosystem, external company communications are as simple and efficient as internal communications. BroadSoft has many Service Providers testing our WebRTC gateway and using BroadSoft labs to experiment and trial new applications.

Long term, we see WebRTC as a game changer. We envision a day when WebRTC is embedded in many commonly used products. Examples include communication enabling TVs, cars, and appliances. Consider the example where you look in the fridge and realize that you need some milk and easily use the fridge to call your spouse to stop by the grocery store.  

How often do you use video for business communications? Why do you feel it is/is not helpful in your interactions?

AR: BroadSoft is a distributed and global organization – I live in Ottawa, Canada, we have team members in Dallas, Washington, Montreal, California and the U.K.  I use video everyday – from point to point HD Video calls to multi-party HD Video Collaboration. Video allows me to keep in touch, build familiarity, and get the job done. We use our own UC tools for video and their inherent ease of use is what ensures that we use them instead of falling back to old fashioned voice calls and conference bridges.

How have innovations in technology changed how you work in the past two years? What product had the greatest impact on your business?

AR: Cloud applications have really become mainstream in the past two years. This has resulted in incredible ease of access and ease of use for many business apps. Obviously we use UC-One (our cloud based UC App) but also use many other cloud apps as part of our business processes – apps like Salesforce, Concur, Workday, and Oxygen. What’s interesting is how easy it becomes to integrate UC apps with other business apps to deliver improved efficiency and better customer service.

The result is that we can access the apps required for our business processes from anywhere and from any device resulting in increased productivity and effectiveness with less cost and overhead.

From a mobile perspective, the BYOD trend has been liberating (in some ways) to IT departments who no longer need to focus on what device,  but can now focus on delivering services to mobile devices.

Has your business implemented a Unified Communications solution?  How has it changed the way you and your colleagues operate?

AR: We develop innovative unified communications solutions that are used by hundreds of service providers across the globe. We also deploy these solutions for our own internal consumption. As previously mentioned, BroadSoft is a global, distributed company, with many employees working from home or small remote offices. UC allows us to work as a close knit cohesive team where distance is never a barrier to getting the job done. Having access to ubiquitous desktop and mobile clients allows us to work when and where we need to – to get the job done. The use of unified communication technologies like video, chat and presence have really transformed the way my colleagues work by enhancing productivity and efficiency, while reducing costs.

We work in the office of the future – the office is anywhere where you need to be.

In terms of productivity, what is the most useful app you use on a regular basis?

AR: While I’m working in my home office, I use our My Room group collaboration tool all the time.  It’s always on and gives easy access to group IM, HD audio and video conferencing, content sharing and file transfer. It really unifies my communications. I’m always collaborating with colleagues, and seeing the content facilitates progress on deliverables and speeds decision making.

While traveling, having my business communications integrated with my smartphone is awesome. I make and receive calls with my business number and people have no idea (and have no need to know) were I am when we’re communicating.

Looking back at 2014, how would you characterize the change that has taken place in the technology landscape?

AR: 2014 seems to have been the tipping point for cloud communications. There was increased adoption of cloud based UC technologies and significant slowdown in the traditional IP PBX deployments. More enterprises were looking for improving productivity by moving towards full UC.  Collaboration tools like IM and desktop sharing have become an accepted and expected part of how people work – a minimum baseline for modern communication solution – and the cloud is the expected delivery vehicle.

WebRTC is gaining more traction and lots of companies are trying to use this technology to develop interesting applications in the area of customer service and support. Other changes have been in the area of Big Data, Mobile Devices, and the continued convergence of consumer and business apps.

What is the most interesting or exciting technology announcement or enhancement of the year?

WebRTC is one of the most interesting and exciting technologies to look for this year. Even though the early benefits of voice and video through WebRTC applications are being introduced by enterprises, we have yet to experience the full benefits of this technology. Look out for many new announcements in this space this year.

What is one announcement or product you would like to see announced in 2015?

Microsoft and Apple embrace WebRTC as the global open standard for communications.

What are you looking forward to at ITEXPO Miami?

AR: I’m looking forward engaging with service providers and channel partners to see how they are satisfying the need for cloud based communications and delving into the challenges and opportunities that it presents. For example, examining how SIP Trunking can be a first step to delivering full cloud-based UC solution.

It’s also always great to catch up with former colleagues

What is your session about and why should attendees make sure your session is on their ITEXPO to do list?

AR: My session is titled: What is Real Unified Communications, Really? In a nutshell, the session explores the real business benefits of UC (not features and hype) and how those benefits empower users and how they help shape the business of the future.

For more on all the latest technology and trends happenings, be sure to register to attend ITEXPO, the business technology event that brings together service providers, enterprises, government agencies, resellers, vendors and developers to demo, discuss and network all the latest innovations changing the marketplace. ITEXPO is being held January 27-30, 2015, at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami, Florida.   Stay in touch with everything happening at the event -- follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi