Broadview's Brian Crotty: UC Is a Solution, Not a Commodity

It’s time to start selling unified communications differently. That’s the message from Brian Crotty, chief operating officer of Broadview Networks.

James Anderson, Senior News Editor

June 8, 2016

7 Min Read

James AndersonIt’s time to start selling unified communications differently.

That has been the message of Brian Crotty, chief operating officer of Broadview Networks, as he travels the U.S. on his “Coast to Coast UC Tour.”

Broadview's Brian CrottyCrotty spoke to Channel Partners about trends in unified communications and the latest news with Broadview, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Editor’s Note: The transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

Channel Partners: What’s new with Broadview?

Brian Crotty: We rolled out an updated portal to our end users in January of 2015. We call that MyOfficeSuite portal, and it has been received with rave reviews and won numerous awards. Our customers love it; our agents love it. It’s very intuitive for end users to figure out how to actually use the technology that the organization has brought to them, and they control truly everything. All feature functionality they control through their portal on pretty much any device — iPhones, Androids, tablets, their computers. They really control their whole communications infrastructure from any device, anywhere. We’ve seen a huge increase in sales from that, both from partners and our direct sales teams. We’ve made numerous enhancements because we own the code, it’s our software team, we’re not a BroadSoft shop (it’s our own platform). We’ve rolled out numerous enhancements over the course of the last year into that portal. All those enhancements come from both our end users as well as our agents.{ad}

We’ve taken the MyOfficeSuite portal and the infrastructure and the ease of use and we rolled out in April the MyOfficeSuite Agent portal (introduced at last fall’s Cloud Partners event). And that portal is specifically designed for just our agent partners to be able to help them grow and manage their business with Broadview. The MyOfficeSuite Agent portal has everything. You can do quick quotes online, right in front of the customer if you want. When you place an order, it allows you to see all of your orders that you submitted, and it gives you the full power to completely control the implementation of your end users’ services from beginning to end. This is something we’ve not seen anywhere in the industry, and it’s a complete game-changer. We’ve also implemented that same infrastructure – which is the provisioning wizard – into the regular MyOfficeSuite portal for our end users. So now our end users have full visibility; our partners have full visibility and the same tools that our own service-delivery and project-management team uses on the back end.

Within the MyOfficeSuite Agent portal, we’ve now given a single pane of glass on a single path for agents to be able to manage their entire customer as an administrator (if their end users allow them to be able to do that). Historically, an agent would need a separate login for every …


… end user and have to log in to each individual account. Now it’s all on one single pane of glass. It’s great for the agents that want to really provide the white-glove service for their customers.

CP: What have you been talking about on your UC tour?

BC: We’re focusing on three macro areas. For me in particular, I’m speaking more at the higher level of UC and what’s happening with UC as an industry, but as important, I’m also focusing on working with the agent community, the partner community, to be able to help transition to sell UC. Many agents are traditional telecom agents, and they’re working through transitioning to selling UC products as well as cloud-computing products and cloud-based products in general. It’s a very different type of sale versus telecommunications or access-based products. You have to sell it in a consultative manner. I’ve spent a lot of time on the road talking about what makes executives tick and how you sell UC as a solution and not as a product. It’s a very different philosophy rather than just trying to sell something on price. Then you’re just literally making a UC product a commodity, and if the UC product is a commodity, the customer is not going to end up staying with you. They’re going to switch to another provider, and there’s no value-add to the business. It’s not the purpose of UC. UC should change the way people do business, just like when smartphones came out. I can’t live without my iPhone, and people can’t live without their Androids. If UC is sold as a solution to resolve macro business needs and it’s adopted by the entire employee base versus just the technologists that bought it, the customer will never leave, and they will adopt the technology to truly change the way they do business.

CP: Are there any other trends you see coming to unified communications as a service (UCaaS)?

BC: For us, we follow our feedback primarily from what we’re getting from our customers as well as what we’re getting from our overall agents. We’ve continued to upgrade, and if you look at our overall product over the last 10 years, it’s morphed significantly.  It was outbound-only. We’ve added call center. We’ve added chat and presence and click-to-dial and a bunch of other very cool functionality. I do see that it will continue to morph over time and have much more integration with collaborative types of tools. We now have fully integrated with the HD Meeting product. I live on this HD Meeting product, where I’m doing video with people four, five, six hours a day. And when I talked earlier about changing the way people do business — that’s exactly it. I now am more remote and am on video more than I ever have been. I am exponentially more efficient with my time and get more done by using video rather than doing a lot of travel. I also save a lot of money for the bottom line of a business, and customers see the same thing.

UCaaS is everything. It’s video, it’s web, it’s chat, it’s the phone system. But it will continue to morph with more cloud-computing sides of the house, more collaboration types of tools, more employee collaboration. We might also see that UCaaS from a user perspective is kind of a gateway to go into the next level of cloud computing, in terms of hybrid servers where they’ve got [sic.] private servers as well as …


… cloud-based servers in a hybrid environment. I see more of that morphing, where UCaaS is kind of the first transition of an end user going to cloud-based services and then continuing to transition, not only with collaboration tools but also with the cloud-computing side of the business.

CP: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

BC: I’ll take it back a step. The regular competitive local marketplace that started in 1996 with all of the CLECs nationwide — I saw that many competitors were going against the RBOCs of the world and for years were taking customers and building their base that way. And then I saw a transition where it became more of a commodity, where CLECs were stealing each other’s customers. I’ve seen the same type of trend happening in the UCaaS space, where when it’s being sold as a product and not as a solution, customers don’t buy it as a solution. I see a bunch of our competitors having it where there’s no end-user adoption. And when there’s no end-user adoption, they start switching from carrier to carrier to carrier. Those are the things we’re trying to change — being able to sell it as a total solution, the right way where customers don’t leave. We have churn rates for our OfficeSuite product that are record lows. They’re less than 50 percent than that of our commodity-based product. So customers are extremely sticky. But one other thing that we’re rolling out to be able to accommodate those end users that were originally sold just a product – they were typically sold Polycom phones but really didn’t know how to use any of it – we’re rolling out the support for Polycom phones on our platform where customers of Polycom phones can be able to convert over to Broadview. We’ve actually worked with Polycom to build the new software stacked inside those phones, so we can give the same OfficeSuite experience of controlling everything through the portal that they’ve never been able to do before with that phone. We’re provisioning customers starting mid-July. I think that’s going to be a not insignificant game changer for someone that was sold a product from a competitor.

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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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