Tuesday, March 6, 2012

BroadForward CEO: "We have a very ambitious 5 year growth plan"

Last week BroadForward announced its first product, BFX (see "BroadForward Offers "Policy Gateway" - Connectivity to Broadband, Policy, Charging or IT interface" - here).

In order to learn more on the young Dutch start-up, I had a short interview with BroadForward's CEO, Taco Schoute (pictured).

Q: What was the reaction to your recent announcement?

A: We got very positive feedback from the industry at large. The launch of the BFX Broadband Policy Gateway is the result of over 12 months engagement with various operators, product vendors and system integrators. The announcement at MWC immediately generated additional requests for support of specific broadband use cases and reaffirmed that implementing policy management in the operator network is a major challenge, in particular integration with IT systems. Operators, vendors and SI’s generally do not underestimate the integration challenge. However, until BFX they did not really have a straightforward, productized way to tackle these issues uniformly. BFX opens completely new ways for them to speed up implementation of policy use cases and reduce time and money spent on customizations and professional services.

Q: Who are you competitors?

A: BFX has no direct competitors. It is designed solely to be supportive to the mobile broadband network ecosystem. BFX provides a productized “software toolkit” for mobile broadband connectivity and integration, and can be embedded and re-branded to be part of any network or product. Our software is extremely useful for many players in the value chain, including operators, product vendors and system integrators. In fact, already a significant number of large operators, policy vendors and integrators are showing interest in using BFX, which proves they see it this way too. Using BFX helps them to fully concentrate R&D efforts on their core product.

Q: What are your plans?

A: We have a very ambitious 5 year growth plan, which is backed by informal investors. BroadForward management, employees and investors all have a strong background in carrier-grade mobile telecoms software development, and share the passion to build world-class software and innovate continuously. We do one thing only, and that is to create the best possible connectivity and mediation product on the planet. Based on our global experience in mobile broadband use cases and associated integration and connectivity requirements, we are able to stay ahead of the game. We will continue to engage with our customers and provide them with the functions and features they require. We will remain successful as long as we continue to make our customers successful in mobile broadband.

Q: Recently I had some posts pointing out the pros and cons of having an integrated Policy and Charging/billing solution vs. independent solutions (see "Why Not a Single Vendor for Policy and Charging Controls?" vs. "Policy and Charging: The Value of Independence"). What is your take on the subject?
A: There is no vendor that can honestly claim to be without integration needs. Integration with peripheral systems will always be a challenge. For sure, some vendors have fewer challenges than others, but surrounding systems and functionality are constantly updated and renewed. In many conversations we have with operators, economic considerations and time-to-market requirements prevail. From that perspective, it’s not likely that there are many operators that can afford to obtain a pre-integrated solution, if that means replacing systems that are not written-off yet and still perform to satisfaction. Moreover, the promise of pre-integrated solutions has limited value, as we know that there are no “seamless” and “ubiquitous” solutions in the fast evolving mobile broadband space. Even a pre-integrated solution needs to be integrated in the operator network, and with the operator’s IT environment, which means dealing with multiple vendors’ products, different interfaces, proprietary solutions and non-aligned product roadmaps. So whatever approach is taken, with pre-integrated or independent solutions, integration remains a major challenge.

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