Cisco today moved to transform the collaboration application category by acquiring BroadSoft for $1.9 billion.
Most of the collaboration software that BroadSoft provides is consumed by smaller enterprises accessing a set of services provided by third parties such as telecommunications carriers. Most of Cisco’s existing collaboration focus up until now has been on providing services to enterprises via the cloud with its own sales efforts or those of its reseller partners.
Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager for the Cisco Applications Business Group, says going forward, Cisco expects to combine the collaboration services provided by BroadSoft with services such as WebEx to extend the reach of both product portfolios.
“We’re building a full stack collaboration offering,” says Trollope.
Cisco, says Trollope, already has 19 million subscribers to the various elements of its cloud-based collaboration portfolio. Via relationships with service providers, Cisco could easily increase that number once the deal to acquire BroadSoft closes in the first quarter. Trollope says as organizations evolve into becoming digital businesses, it’s already clear there is about to be a massive amount of disruption that will force traditional call center applications to morph into collaboration services delivered via the cloud.
However, while most of the collaboration focus today is on cloud services, Trollope noted that Cisco will be in a unique position to support collaboration services across hybrid cloud computing environments as well.
Obviously, there is no shortage of rivals when it comes to collaboration services in the cloud. The challenge and opportunity facing Cisco now is figuring out how to turn its dominance over networking hardware into a much broader set of services consumed via the cloud in the face of increasingly fierce competition on multiple fronts.