Cisco BroadSoft: A Partner’s Perspective
Following confirmation of Cisco's BroadSoft acquisition, we speak to a major partner to get their take on the news
Cisco’s acquisition of BroadSoft, announced last year and confirmed earlier this year, represents one of the largest consolidations in the UC in market in recent years. The purchase is designed to boost Cisco‘s cloud strategy and enhance their collaboration portfolio by adding the industries’ leading cloud communication and contact centre solution to their existing proposition.
Partners, customers and the industry in general have speculated about how the acquisition will affect ongoing BroadSoft business. We spoke to a major BroadSoft partner to try and understand more about the ramifications of Cisco’s purchase. Iain Sinnott, Sales Director at DRD Communications, is well placed to understand how any changes will affect partners and customers. DRD Communications is made up of several businesses. Two of those are VanillaIP and Uboss.
VanillaIP is one of the UK’s premier cloud communications providers with one of their primary propositions being BroadSoft’s Hosted PBX solution. Uboss provide a back-end office provisioning, billing and integration platform to enable cloud voice and application providers to simplify and enhance their offerings to customers. Although compatible with a huge range of different CC platforms, some of the main systems used with Uboss are BroadWorks based.
With involvement in two very different business, both partnering with BroadSoft in distinct fashions, Iain has an interesting perspective and insight into Cisco BroadSoft and was available to talk to us about the various aspects following the acquisition.
You have been working with BroadSoft for nearly 15 years, what did the relationship look like before any news of the acquisition?
“BroadSoft have always been the ones who could deliver a rock solid platform with good functionality. Their team worked well with us initially. The core centralised piece of business for us, in the heart of our proposition to our customers, is that we have all seen the relationship with BroadSoft as a massive asset.”
“Possibly a more worrying trend has been the perceived knee jerk reaction to the wall street requirement, we saw a business that wasn’t necessarily driven by an ideology but one that had to put some signs out to the money men that they were doing the right things. Rolling up to the announcement of the buyout, perhaps the only concern was the direction was being influenced by the wrong elements of business and that we could do with more continuity on the development of the product.”
“Before the announcement last year, we had probably seen a bit of step up (from BroadSoft) in terms of our account management. Probably partly down to our sales performance and growth itself but also an improvement over the few months prior.”
How did you find out about the news?
“Our Uboss product is a sponsor of BroadSoft Connections so we were all out there in Phoenix for the event. We have our trade stand there and talk to a lot of members of the BroadSoft community. Speculation was that there was going to be some sort of purchase. We weren’t sure who, we were all a little bit concerned about venture capital and a little bit concerned about which of the big players could come and buy the business.”
“I have to say I think the initial reaction when it was announced that it was Cisco, I think a lot of us were very happy.”
“Not sure the hardware guys were quite sure where it left them but the community itself saw this as a really positive step. I think it was a great relief to see it going to someone who recognised the value of the SP community. Notwithstanding that they are a massive name and massive company and provide isolation from this wall street concern we had before. This a strong move for the BroadSoft community and allows us to think about taking our direction forward and continuing with our roadmap of development around that BroadSoft proposition.”
What were the potential benefits that you and the partner community recognised?
“From a Uboss point of view we deliver an enabler that allows people to develop and control BroadSoft at the centre of their proposition. So everything about Cisco’s advantages and brand that helps BroadSoft platform owners attack and be more successful in big market places, means the back office requirement of their platform goes up and the strengths and benefits of Uboss come shining through, so from that point of view we are delighted.”
“In the UK VanillaIP is essentially helping a reseller to construct their own proposition to market. What this allows us to do is keep the confidence in the product and help them build on the absolute that BroadSoft is an element of, not, the whole proposition.”
Were there potential downsides?
“No negatives at all. If you are going to say that most people in the outside world didn’t know who BroadSoft were, everybody knows who Cisco are and the message is very clear in their long standing successful brand.”
No concerns, even in terms of communicating with a much bigger organisation like Cisco, or portfolio consolidation?
“Not really. Since the announcement we have had phenomenally good exposure to senior people both from the US and European structure. Despite us not being the biggest player in our space they have recognised us as an innovator.”
“In terms of the products, we are very hopeful that as the ships starts to steady in terms of the technical direction they take, that our feedback and the feature requests will actually be handled in a more prudent way.”
“Because they will be interested in the development of the product rather than making soundbites for wall street.”
The deal was finally confirmed earlier this year, have there been any immediate changes?
I think it’s been business as usual. This a very big takeover. I’m sure it will take a long time for things to develop their own new direction.”
“What happens in 2019 will be more interesting they will have had time to gauge exactly where they think it should be going.”
“For the next 12 months I see us moving along in a similar vain to the way we have gone before. After 12 months I suppose we will all become aware if there is some great new vision or different mission behind the scenes. The only thing that everyone tended to agree with is that we expect to see more Cisco handsets used on BroadSoft platforms.”
From your perspective, with interests in two very different businesses working in collaboration with BroadSoft, what would you like to see from the new relationship going forward?
“If we are going to support our resellers in coming up with true propositions in a cloud sense. Then first of all we need put out best in class services, whether that’s in voice, collaboration, reporting suites, call management or multimedia. If Cisco BroadSoft want to be making revenue from all of those propositions then they need to make sure they are delivering the best in class.”
“If BroadSoft Cisco are the best in class those products will be corner stones of their proposition.”
“If they are not, then BroadSoft may just be the dial tone element with smart services coming from other places on the top.”