thevoicefactory Director Paul Harrison chats with Mio
Since Cisco acquired BroadSoft in February 2018, it’s been a period of anticipation for both communities. We caught up with Paul Harrison, Founder and Director of thevoicefactory, a leading hosted voice platform provider.
thevoicefactory is an indirect supplier of the BroadWorks platform with over 30 channel partners deploying BroadSoft platforms across 72 countries. They were recently awarded “Best Enterprise Vertical Market Solution” at the Comms National Awards 2018. Based out of UK and US offices, thevoicefactory are in a unique position to witness the Cisco community and product suite integrate into the BroadSoft portfolio.
Mio: How has your messaging stack evolved over the years?
Paul Harrison: Technology has held us back within our solution. We’ve looked at adding different messaging options into our solutions but it’s very fragmented and too siloed. The problem with that is you have to be a certain user type to talk to another use type.
“Federation or cross platform was always the dream.”
Handsets were supposed to be the holy grail so you could talk and message from the handsets. This capability was going to be baked into the handset. People like Polycom and Yealink see their mission as keeping the phone on the desk. The plan was always for handsets to do a bit more messaging and presence, but it never really happened.
Mio: Do you see it changing to messaging on the handset, or just on the desktop?
Paul Harrison: I think it will change. I’ve seen some cool things that Cisco is doing. Everything from video collaboration to messaging in one place is happening. Vendors are bringing the whole experience into one immersive collaboration experience.
Mio: What about messaging internally?
Paul Harrison: We’re using UC-One SaaS. We’re not on Cisco Webex Teams yet. The Webex Teams and UC-One integration is coming. UC-One can do 90% of the things Webex Teams does: screen share, messaging, scheduling and chat. If you want the full meeting experience, you’d go Webex Teams.
Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams
Mio: Is there any Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams on top of UC-One?
Paul Harrison: There is. We’ve got a lot of Skype for Business integration today. As a communications provider, we like to be platform agnostic. We have plays for integrating into both. I think long term there will be two winners in the messaging with voice market. That will be Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex Teams.
Mio: Externally, how do you message customers and suppliers? Are you utilizing federation or guest access?
Paul Harrison: We don’t do that today. Some of our customers are but we normally use text messages and emails when messaging customers.
Mio: What was the last collaboration tool you implemented?
Paul Harrison: We rolled out the full collaboration set with UC-One SaaS. If we have partners using UC-One SaaS, we can message them and use the built-in meetings. If you look at an interview scenario, one person might be a Skype user but the company aren’t. Now, you just send out a link and everyone joins. I think with small things like that, communications will change.
Mio: If someone in thevoicefactory says I’d like to use Slack or Microsoft Teams, what’s the process for introducing something new?
Paul Harrison: We want to be using technology that we can sell, or integrate into our platform. As a business, we need to make sure we understand the capabilities so we can guide our partners. We have two plays. Either we know about it and we can integrate or we have best of breed through Cisco and BroadSoft and can steer our customers for a better option.
We are always playing around with things like SharePoint, CRMs, Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams. We need to understand why people might buy them so we can say “if you’re going down that road, we can integrate with it and complement it.”
Cisco, BroadSoft and Microsoft
Mio: You’re in a unique position where you have best of both worlds. With an open ecosystem and the knowledge to guide them, does that help or hinder?
Paul Harrison: I think the way it’s going to go is that Cisco Webex Teams will be really powerful, especially when integrated with UC-One. Microsoft have done everything themselves, by being the carrier and doing the porting. As a messaging app, it’s really good, so we need to be able to do the voice capabilities that Microsoft can’t deliver.
Mio: Microsoft are such a big influence on all markets. How do you see them impacting your market?
Paul Harrison: We’ve just got to make sure we work with it and integrate with it. Messaging across Microsoft Teams and other platforms like Cisco Webex Teams will be crucial.
“I look forward to seeing what happens when Webex Teams fully integrates with UC-One.”
As Cisco continues to do more with the BroadSoft offering, it’s still a period of anticipation for thevoicefactory and the BroadSoft community. Cross platform capabilities and federation are high on the informal wish list. As the “messaging, with voice” market matures, we eagerly await the breakdown of the currently fragmented market.
Would you like to be featured on the Dispatch blog? We’re always looking for interesting tech thought leaders. Reach out to @mio on twitter if you have messaging app stories to share.