Archive for category: Analysis

Updates from BroadSoft Connections 2012

23 Oct
October 23, 2012

It’s been a fascinating day here at Connections with some interesting announcements from BroadSoft. Two in particular have caught my eye.

The first is the announcement from BroadSoft of their launch of “UC One” – a service offering bringing together a number of features from their portfolio under a single brand. I think this is a reaction from BroadSoft to the perceived Lync threat – the entire industry is talking about Lync at the moment, although from a telephony perspective, industry analyst Matt Townend recently blogged that Lync appears to be making less of an impact than it would seem.

There’s been some interesting commentary from a number of attendees covering the whole spectrum of opinions, but for me the key point from this announcement is that not all of the services that form part of the portfolio are operating in Europe. However, whether you take advantage of the cloud offerings from BroadSoft or not, there’s plenty of new features to keep people happy including some UI enhancements to the client applications.

What’s of more interest to me personally is the announcement of BroadSoft’s Xtended Connect service. Partnering with Intellipeer this is a particularly powerful service that allows BroadSoft customers to connect to each other globally over IP, allowing HD voice and video calls to be passed between networks. HD voice (using the G.722 codec) is a huge step up from the PSTN and one of those features that sets VoIP apart from traditional phone systems. Creating a single, larger network of interconnected service providers can only be a good thing in my opinion. I’ll be spending some time tomorrow looking into the service and finding out how it works, both from a commercial and technical sense.

Staying connected

22 Oct
October 22, 2012

I’m attending BroadSoft Connections this week – a major conference in the world of VoIP. For those who aren’t familiar with the name BroadSoft is one of the world leading companies in the industry and produce a hosted VoIP telephony platform complete with a range of ancillary services and products to provide service providers with a complete ecosystem.

Just because I’m attending a conference doesn’t mean I’m not working this week – there are a whole bunch of things going on back in the office that I need to keep abreast of, not to mention the fact that we’re planning on moving house soon! It’s been a year since the last Connections conference – how have things changed?

This year I’m travelling with four Internet-enabled devices – two smartphones (one work, one personal), a tablet PC and my laptop and – more than ever before – I’m realising that my life is so integrated with the Internet that when I go somewhere where my usage is curtailed, I really struggle. My ticket was booked online; I had an e-boarding pass. My entry into the US was contingent on completing the electronic travel authorisation (ESTA). The hotel booking was completed online and we registered for the conference online. I didn’t check any maps before I left – why bother when I have Google Maps on my phone (I wanted to make sure I arrived at the right place, so Apple Maps was out). All of this was tracked through Tripit – a great application that I use to organise my travel and help keep me up to date with unscheduled changes.

Those are my needs – what’s the reality? As soon as I arrived, both of my phones alerted me to the fact that data whilst roaming was expensive. I hadn’t made any preparations nor was I going to bother buying a local SIM as I have a range of services on my phones that depend on this mobile number – Vodafone are charging £15 for 5Mb of data as a flat rate. Orange texted me and told me they charged £8 per Mb – woah! But they also offered a package where I can turn on a service that, if I use any data, costs £6 per day for up to 30Mb – then we’re back to £8 per Mb after that. However they also provide an app that helps you track your usage and provide warnings. Once connected, the speeds I’m getting here in Phoenix, AZ are pretty impressive – the networks obviously have plenty of capacity.

Wherever possible, I’m using wifi – it was free in the airport and its also complimentary in our hotel, the Hilton-family Hampton Inn and Suites. Here in the venue hotel, the Westin Kierland, the wifi is free for guests but not for conference attendees, and it struggles with some 1,000 people attending this conference.

Either way, I’m pretty impressed – I’m managing to keep myself connected fairly effectively and managing to keep up to date with what’s going on at home, even if that does mean getting woken up at 4am this morning by an urgent phone call! Last year, I struggled a lot more with finding decent data – the conference venue wifi problems appear to be a common theme however, something that hotels like this really should have a better handle on. Maybe next year I’ll check out local SIMs as an option – or maybe by next year I won’t need to…?

Driving mediocrity

04 Sep
September 4, 2012

I was in a meeting recently discussing a new business opportunity. As part of the discussion, we were talking about processes by which companies select contracts and the concept of an ebay-style auction which I’d not come across before. When it was explained to me, I was aghast.

If you’re not familiar with the process, it starts quite simply with a Company announcing that they have a project or a purchase to make and requesting people tender. This is pretty normal and a number of companies will respond with details of how they would meet the Company’s requirements and what else they can bring to the table. A team of people will evaluate each of these responses – some will be discarded outright as they don’t meet the requirements. Others will be visited, probed, researched and will answer questions, provide demonstrations and generally invest a large amount of time and money in the process. Eventually a list will be drawn up of those companies that the team believes could technically fulfil the requirements.

Then those short-listed suppliers will get a link to a website. There, they will see the contract they’re bidding for. During a set period, they will bid against each other to win – with the obvious difference from ebay that the lowest bidder wins.

That sounds eminently sensible and fiscally responsible. And, to me, it sounds completely and utterly insane. It’s pushing everyone towards the lowest common denominator; to provide the minimum necessary to clear that bar; telling people not to bother – it’s driving mediocrity.

What am I on about?

When I joined SIPhon I had a purpose – I wanted to make sure that when someone spoke about us, they said “Those guys are awesome”. I wanted people to remember us because we were excellent. Because we did incredible work. Because we helped them to make their service and their company better. I was tired of people saying that VoIP was a poor cousin to traditional communications. That it was a budget technology. I wanted to show that we could make a difference.

So we built a company that did that and did it well. We’re good at what we do. We’re flexible. We’re able to all that because we’ve got good people. And this – all of this – this is what makes us better than the next guy.

But what does any of that matter in this system? So long as we can meet the minimum, why pay more, right?

Have you ever had a business relationship that ended up the same as it started? Relationships grow. Companies grow. Nothing stays the same and you often have no idea where the future will take you. Our best partners are those that learn and grown and help us grow with them. Our best customers are those that learn and grown and let us help them grow. But all that requires flexibility. It requires excellence.

There’s no space in that bidding system for excellence – it just keeps driving mediocrity.

I’m not a specialist on purchasing or business so I might be missing something here – if you know what that is, drop me a line below or email me directly. I’m always happy to learn.