This is the transcript from a 2017 interview with Ben Rife, CEO, Bullfrog Group, and industry analysts and CxOTalk host, Michael Krigsman. In it, Ben discusses the shift businesses are making from the desk phone to a soft phone mobile app.
[Michael Krigsman] I’m Michael Krigsman, I’m an industry analyst and the host of CxOTalk. We’re here at BroadSoft Connections 2017 and I’m speaking with Ben Rife who is the CEO of Bullfrog. Hey Ben, how you doing?
[Ben Rife] Michael, thanks for having me.
[Michael Krigsman] Tell us about Bullfrog.
[Ben Rife] Bullfrog is the next generation business phone system and the fastest growing privately held telecom company in America and we are leading the industry and disrupting the industry with a mobile first mobile only solution.
[Michael Krigsman] So what does that mean, a phone system leading with a mobile solution?
[Ben Rife] So for last five years Michael we’ve been preaching death of the desk phone, right, so we’re going to market telling you that you are not going to use or you’re no longer needing or using that desk phone. Rather, you need to rely on new modern technology which most everybody has a cell phone. Your cell phone has become your business phone and so that’s really what it means. It’s adopting the tools that you already have. You’re already using a Mac, PC, tablet, iPad, iPhone, or Android and so let’s use those devices. We’re already using them but let’s make them purpose-built for business.
[Michael Krigsman] Your solutions are based all around the changing expectations of consumers and that’s one of the key themes at this conference so tell us about those expectations and what’s going on.
[Ben Rife] Let me ask you this, Michael, do you have a desk phone at home?
[Michael Krigsman] Actually, I do, which I never use okay, but we do have some analog phone at home yes.
[Ben Rife] You’re a rare man. How about at work? You have a desk phone at work?
[Michael Krigsman] I do.
[Ben Rife] How often do you take business calls on your cell phone as opposed to your desk phone?
[Michael Krigsman] The cell phone is it.
[Ben Rife] That is the way that business is being done today. It’s no longer picking up that desk phone and making or receiving a call. Right now, communication happens anywhere, anytime, from any device. It’s text, SMS messaging, it’s video, audio/video conferencing, desktop and file sharing, and things like team collaboration. So in our industry, we’ve gone through the largest change in telecom in the last 150 years and right now is “death of the desk phone”.
[Michael Krigsman] What does this mean for the telecom industry? What does this mean for the carriers, the service providers, for the developers of products?
[Ben Rife] We’re seeing that hardware vendors are losing market share. We’re seeing their numbers, month after month, quarter after quarter, declining. That’s a sign of the times, right, and so service providers, vendors, and distributors, they need to keep in mind that they need to build solutions, they need to innovate, with a mobile-first strategy.
You need to think about how you are going to communicate, how are you going to innovate, with the things that we already use, like an android, iphone, mac, pc, tablet, and iPad. Those are the next generation business phone. That’s the next generation business phone system. It’s those mobile devices.
[Michael Krigsman] What about the buyers? What are your customers telling you in terms of what they want but also what are the challenges, the technology challenges, the business, the process challenges that they have to face in order to make this shift?
[Ben Rife] We are seeing, for the last ten deals that we’ve done, have been zero handsets placed. They have been all unified communications soft phones and so that is, from a logistic standpoint, a quicker time-to-market, lower total cost of ownership, and lower capital risk, but there are clients, some of our larger clients even, that are coming to us demanding that they have no phones.
One of our large contact centers, MISS DIG, in Michigan, came to us, the CEO said we don’t want any phones in our organization. I have been preaching this for five years and it’s here.
Our clients are coming to us as they and we see a trend of the death of the desk phone and so yeah, I mean inside an organization, Mike, that that means that there’s some learning that needs to take place. Users need to get used to not having a desk phone or if you do have a desk phone there’s a transition period to get them off of that on to a UC solution.
[Michael Krigsman] Where is this going over the next few years? Five years from now?
[Ben Rife] Three years, five years, we are going to see, we’ll see the complete turn down to the analog phone network. I’m sorry but that analog phone you have at home is going to go bye-bye. We’re gonna see more integration with social we’re going to see more integration with video. Video’s going to play a huge role in communications. We’re gonna see more interactive. We’re gonna see more team collaboration. I could foresee, actually, death of the email. Right? You’re gonna think I’m crazy for saying that but I see some of these social technologies, some of some of the you know the slack type of team collaboration. Those are changing the way we communicate and rely on email.
[Michael Krigsman] Okay. Ben Rife, thank you so much.
[Ben Rife] Thank you.