The Willing Underdog Plotting Broadsoft’s Cloud Conquest
Andy Bannister is Head of BroadCloud UK for global unified communications giant Broadsoft
When asked what has been his greatest accomplishment in his career to date, BroadCloud UK chief Andy Bannister struggles to pick out a single moment.
“There have been many,” he says, “but they have all had a common theme – when we have won a customer that everyone tells you is out of reach for many reasons! It could be [they say] the product is not ready or the competition is too strong. Being the underdog is fun!”
Andy’s love of confounding expectations makes him a good fit for Broadsoft. The company, founded in Maryland, US in 1998, has become one of the most influential forces in the global UC market by supplying server, SaaS and PaaS solutions direct to service providers. As the market for hosted services exploded, so did Broadsoft. It now supplies 25 of the world’s 30 biggest UC service providers.
Taking risks and pushing boundaries is part of motorbike mad Andy’s story. Growing up in Guernsey, he started his career as an apprentice at Guernsey Telecoms. “I did everything from System X exchanges to launching GSM on the island, but decided PABX’s were more interesting.”
Before long, Andy was looking to expand his horizons, and ended up working in the US and Canada. “I have had a great time learning how the market operates in different regions,” he added.
On his willingness to push against the odds, he pays dues to the influence of an early mentor he worked alongside in a sales role. “I was working in a new business sales team with Simon Skellon in the early 2000s. We just kept pushing the boundaries of what our solution could do and then delivered on it!”
In his current role, Andy has no doubts about the strategic importance of BroadCloud to Broadsoft’s business model. Having originally sold the BroadWorks software as a fully formed UC solution for providers to configure and package their own hosted services for customers, BroadCloud sees service providers access the same solutions directly from Broadsoft through subscription.
“Broadsoft has traditionally sold software platforms to service providers,” said Andy. “With BroadCloud, the same solution is available to channel partners with a low barrier to entry.
“[The biggest impact on the business] has definitely been the transition from software sales to Cloud. The impact is all behind the scenes right now but in a few years we will see the vendors that did not start early enough.”
In the past 12 months, Broadsoft has added Contact Centre and Team Collaboration solutions to the BroadCloud offering as it aims to take UCaaS to the UK’s enterprise and midmarket. But as well as improving and developing solutions, Andy sees forging ever stronger ties with partners, and building the right team to provide better service, as equally important to driving BroadCloud forward.
“In the UK I have been building a team to help our existing and new partners be more successful,” he said. “The cloud model is all success driven so we have to support our partners in selling our solutions.
“With a business growing as fast as Broadsoft, the people are critical to our success. Growing both via acquisition and organically means we have everyone pulling in the same direction. Without the right committed people we would not be able to pull off some of the amazing things we do.”
Andy, who says if he could have any superpower he would choose time travel, is always looking to the future. Talking about prospects for the UC market, he sees consolidation taking hold. “It has been happening at the vendor level but I’m sure we will see more at the small service provider level.”
However, true to form, that alone will not satisfy Andy, or indeed Broadsoft. CPaaS is a major growth target area, getting ahead in the trend to integrate UC with other applications.
“Our passion is to innovate,” said Andy, “to enable the human touch via communications and collaboration. Empowering people, teams and companies to remove borders, barriers, walls and silos.
“Players that can keep up with the pace of change and adapt will win.”