Cisco and BroadSoft: Life After the Acquisition
We discuss the Cisco and BroadSoft partnership
When Cisco, one of the world’s leading enterprise communication companies, announced their decision to purchase cloud specialists BroadSoft, the news sent shockwaves around the UC marketplace. In February of this year, the deal came to a successful close, bringing BroadSoft’s exceptional cloud strategy and collaboration services into Cisco’s leading meetings, messaging, calling, and customer care portfolio.
At UC EXPO last week, we had an opportunity to catch up with Craig Decker, the Managing Director for EMEA at BroadSoft (now part of Cisco). With more than 11 years working for BroadSoft, Craig has been in a fantastic position to witness the merger of the two companies. We sat down with a quick discussion with him about how the merger has affected the two businesses, and what the future looks like for Cisco and BroadSoft.
What’s Been Happening Since the Deal?
It’s been a few months since the ink dried on the acquisition agreement between Cisco and BroadSoft, making Cisco one of the biggest, and most compelling UC solutions in the current marketplace. I asked Craig what’s been happening since the deal took place, and he told me that the transformation has been significant.
“Ever since the early stages of the acquisition, it was clear that Cisco wanted to hold onto the BroadSoft DNA and the way we approached managing service providers. Our integration into the Cisco Collaboration Group has been about delivering collaboration and cloud calling to customers and offering sales and marketing support to service providers using the Cisco portfolio.”
As Decker told me, BroadSoft has always been 100% service provider focused. “We were never really a brand that enterprise companies knew about. I think one of the biggest things that have changed since the acquisition, is that we now have countless enterprise providers coming to work with us. Enterprise service providers are seeing a huge opportunity in the merger because even though Cisco has always been a market leader in terms of enterprise communications, they never really had that cloud calling aspect. With BroadSoft, they can really offer that to their customers.”
Decker noted that the best thing about the acquisition for him is how welcoming Cisco have been. “As an integration company, Cisco is world class. My team has felt so welcome, and the process has been incredibly smooth. I think there’s always a risk of people losing focus during change, but I’ve seen the reverse. Our people can see the opportunity, and they’re so motivated.”
Where Do You Think the Market Transformation in UC is Heading?
Now that Cisco and BroadSoft have combined their specialties into one fantastic portfolio, Craig believes that they’re going to see a huge expansion in market reach, particularly when it comes to mid-market and enterprise customers.
“I think there’s a lot of opportunity, but we’ll need to educate all the different channels about what’s possible first. It’s all about creating the right transitional experience.”
Of course, it’s not just Cisco, BroadSoft, and their customers that are going through a transformation right now. The whole UC market is in a state of flux, with plenty of consolidation and growth throughout. I asked Craig where he thinks the market is heading.
“I think we’re going to see continued service provider mergers and continued new developments by vendors like Cisco as everyone starts to deliver more complete portfolios. There’s a lot of vendors out there today that are pure cloud – and while that might work for SMBs that can make the jump to cloud pretty quickly, there needs to be more hybrid opportunities for mid-market and large enterprises too.”
Decker also commented that as the move to cloud accelerates, he thinks that we’ll start to see more specialised and niche solutions come up across various verticals.
“I think the market segment will continue to evolve as people solve the different challenges that various verticals face.”
Will the Cisco and BroadSoft Collaboration Stories Be Merging Together?
One discussion that took place at the UC EXPO this year, was all about how Cisco’s collaboration story is evolving. Of course, before the acquisition, BroadSoft had their own collaboration story too. I asked Craig whether he thought the two would be coming together or not.
“If you look at what BroadSoft was, and what it is, it was always the white-label solution that service providers would take to suit their needs. They would go to market with their own branded service, provided by BroadSoft. In the SMB market – this is sure to continue. Cisco has been very clear that the APIs and openness we had in allowing carrier branded solutions will continue in this SMB section. What we’re doing in the collaboration group is taking the best of that, and our calling platform, along with Cisco’s branded components, and making it easier for service providers to consume in the cloud.”
Cisco and BroadSoft are both considering the nature of the brands they work with, and their route to market, with a complete portfolio that spans everything from the SMB to the large enterprise.
“We expect to continue offering service providers the best of both worlds from BroadSoft and Cisco. For small companies, that might be mostly BroadSoft services, for mid-market, it might be a combination of Cisco and BroadSoft, and for large enterprise, it could be mostly Cisco.
How Does the Future Look for Cisco and BroadSoft?
With so many discussions about disruptive technology like AI and IoT emerging at UC EXPO, I was keen to hear about what the future might look like for BroadSoft and Cisco. Craig told me: “One of the things we’re looking at in AI and contextual search and so on, is that we’ve got so much information now that sits in the cloud. The cloud gives us a unique opportunity to run nurture programs and analytics that allow us to create a smarter environment for customers, and I think you’ll see a lot of focus in the coming years on taking AI from command and control, to being a part of improving usability.”
Decker also noted that he believes we’ll start to see more contextual capabilities brought into systems to make managing communication and collaboration easier.
“It’s about making sure that the technology helps you, rather than hindering you, and I think Cisco is already ahead of the curve. It’s bringing the pieces of the puzzle together and delivering amazing solutions in a meaningful way.”