Part of a blog series about the culture and values at BroadSoft.
Our most innovative days lie ahead.
I’ve been at BroadSoft almost 19 years now. That’s a long time. To put it into perspective, when I started, I had no grey hair and:
- You had to use a wire to connect to the internet — no one had heard of Wifi.
- There was no such thing as an iPhone — and Apple was only worth $9B.
- Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, Skype and SnapChat didn’t even exist.
- Netflix was shipping DVDs in the mail.
- Amazon was just an online bookstore.
And google.com was a Stanford research project that looked like this:
(Okay, maybe Google’s home page hasn’t changed much, but their company has.)
We’ve seen a lot of innovation in the past two decades. It’s hard to imagine what could be on the horizon given everything that has already been invented.
In our industry, the changes may not be as well known — but they have been significant. Here are a few that come to mind:
- VoIP: The shift from circuit switched voice to packet switched, or Voice over IP, has played a significant role in changing the landscape of business communications.
- Cloud services: BroadSoft was doing cloud before it was cool. We’ve always believed that businesses will eventually stop buying PBX equipment, and shift to buying communications services hosted by their service provider (aka the cloud).
- Mobility: Of course, everyone talks about being “mobile first” today -- it’s almost an industry cliche. But it’s worth pointing out that BroadWorks was actually the first mobile telephony application server in our industry.
- Commoditization of Video: Video calling and video conferencing used to be something that only large enterprises could afford. Today, we help businesses of all sizes make communicating with video as easy as making a phone call — and just as affordable.
It’s fun to look back at all the changes and everything we’ve achieved along the way — we have a lot to be proud of. If you’re like me, you probably didn’t even realize that we were innovating — I just thought we were solving customers’ problems the best way we could. The reality is, that’s really at the heart of being innovative.
That’s why I’m even more excited about what is to come. Our shift to focusing on a cloud native delivery model allows us to innovate for our customers at an entirely different level. In the past, we had a lot of great ideas that we couldn’t commercialize because of limitations in the way we had to license and resell technology through a software delivery model.
The cloud delivery model changes that.
First, very advanced technology is becoming commoditized. Things like speech recognition and natural language are great examples. Back in the day (now I sound old), we would have had to license very expensive technology from vendors like Nuance and build that into our cost model for the software license. Today, not only is the technology in the cloud more advanced, it’s also relatively inexpensive to incorporate into a service. There is an artificial intelligence and machine learning race underway — and it will unlock very affordable capabilities that we can apply with a simple API call.
Have a desire to learn.
If you don’t want to learn new things, then you’re going to stagnate — you’re by definition not being adaptable. The business landscape is changing, new ideas and concepts are constantly being introduced, and we all need to keep learning in order to stay relevant.
Second, the cloud model allows us to experiment with new ideas faster. With software, any new idea would often take 18-24 months to get into the hands of users. But a lot can change in that amount of time — making it a race to avoid obsolescence. With the cloud model, we can move a whole order of magnitude faster. If we have a new idea, we can build and test it with real users in a matter of a few months or even weeks.
So our most innovative days may be ahead of us.
As individuals, as teams and as a company — if we approach every day as an opportunity to solve problems in new ways, using new technologies or new processes — then we are all innovating. This means challenging yourself to look at the way we’ve always done things and asking: is there a better way? Can we do this more efficiently, more effectively and more affordably? And if you are a leader— it means encouraging your team to explore these ideas.
This isn’t just about software development — this is about every aspect of what we do to build, market, sell, and support our products and services. So if you think you don’t need to be innovative in your job — you are wrong. This core competency applies to everyone.
Oh, and if you haven’t read Sam’s post about "adaptability" — go read it. It goes hand-in-hand with innovation.