BroadSoft's Move Into Consumer Communications

Some noteworthy news from BroadSoft last week that I haven't seen much coverage of. Being at VON kept me too busy to post about this, but it may still be news to many of you. I was pre-briefed by BroadSoft prior to the announcement, but couldn't talk about it until the news, which came out on Wednesday.

Branded the "Consumer Experience", BroadSoft is building on their strong foundation of business end users to move into the residential market. With over 450 carrier customers in 71 countries, they have the critical mass and footprint to serve new markets, and for many of their customers this will open up new opportunities.

BroadSoft has had residential capabilities for some time, but they've never gone to this extent to position BroadWorks as a total solution for this market. Early on, the focus was on providing telephony, and enabling carriers to offer Vonage-style subscription services. Needless to say, the market has evolved considerably, and VoIP is just one element for today's residential offerings. BroadSoft is talking about enabling "the new consumer carrier", which translates into a ubiquitous communications experience, much like what we often hear for the emerging world of Telco 2.0 - multiple services over multiple devices and screens, anywhere, any time.

What I find most interesting about BroadSoft is their focus on the devices and multimedia communications. By shifting from telephony to communications, they enable carriers to sell a more comprehensive service. So, in addition to the telephone, BroadSoft now touches a wide variety of devices - TVs, PCs, set top boxes, video cameras (surveillance), Internet appliances (this is going to be a growth market), touchscreen devices, etc.

With BroadSoft's Xtended Web 2.0 capabilities, they're also reaching out to support social networking, which may be the stickiest mode of communication with consumers these days. And yes, we're talking both fixed and mobile devices, so pretty much any type of carrier can get in the game with BroadSoft.

By connecting all these pieces with a single platform, BroadSoft's carrier customers can now brand their services on pretty much every communications device used in the home, and if you walk around and count them all up room by room, that's a lot of exposure. I can't say for sure that BroadSoft is the only platform out there that can do all these things, but it's a much broader vision for residential services than what carriers typically have to choose from.

If Microsoft hasn't come to mind yet for a parallel here, it will soon. I've seen a very similar storyline from them - especially around the digital lifestyle - but they're coming at it from a software angle. I'd say this will not be as intuitive for consumers to understand compared to hearing it from their service provider. Like Microsoft, BroadSoft is positioning their solution in terms of the overall consumer experience, and this is the type of messaging that a carrier wants to hear that tells them BroadSoft understands their needs. There's a nice example of this on their website - it's an online slideshow titled "A Day in the Life of a Connected Consumer".

All told, it's about more choice for consumers, more devices to communicate with, and more ways to add value with personaliztion and integration with Web-based services. It's long way from VoIP, and another step forward for BroadSoft. I should add that it's in the market today, and the press release cites some success stories, so you might want to look at those for specific examples of how it's being deployed.