Desk phones are dying, thanks to disruption and unified communications in the telecom industry. Ben Rife, CEO of Bullfrog, speaks with CXOTalk about how cell phones have become business phones and mobile technology has changed the work/office experience.

“You’re no longer needing or using that desk phone,” Rife explains. “Rather, you need to rely on new, modern technology, which almost everybody has a cell phone. And, your cell phone has become your business phone. And so, that’s really what it means. It’s adapting the tools that you already have. You’re already using a Mac, a PC, a tablet, and iPad, an iPhone and Android. And so, let’s use those devices. We’re already using them, but let’s make them purpose-built for business.”

Rife is President, CEO, and Founder of Bullfrog Group, LLC, which works with small and mid-sized businesses across the country to turn the desk phone into a revenue-generating, productivity-driving, and cost-cutting tool. Bullfrog for Business does this as the “Next Generation Business Phone System” by leveraging mobile phones and desktops to deliver the latest UC features, such as audio and video conferencing, desktop and file sharing, and instant messaging and presence.

Transcript

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, CEO of Bullfrog. Hey, Ben. How are you doing?

Ben Rife: Hey, 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 telecom company in America. And, we are leading the industry and we are 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? What does that mean?

Ben Rife: So, for the last five years, Mike, 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 — you're no longer needing, or using that desk phone. Rather, you need to rely on new, modern technology, which almost everybody has a cell phone. And, your cell phone has become your business phone. And so, that's really what it means. It's adapting the tools that you already have. You're already using a Mac, a PC, a tablet, and iPad, an iPhone an 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!

Ben Rife: Okay. But, you do have an analog phone at home?

Michael Krigsman: Yes.

Ben Rife: You’re rare, man. How about at work? Do 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? Right now, communication happens anywhere, anytime, from any device. It's SMS messaging. It's video; audio-video conferencing; desktop and file-sharing — things like that. Team collaboration. So, it's the industry… We've gone through the largest change to telecom in the last 150 years and right now, it's 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 the hardware vendors losing market share. We're seeing their numbers, month after month, quarter after quarter, declining. And that's a sign of the times, right? And so, service providers, vendors, … 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 are you going to communicate. How are you going to innovate with the things that we already use: Android, iPhone, Mac, PC, Tablet, iPad? Those are the next-generation business systems; 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, we actually have… There have been zero handsets placed. They have been all unified communications cell phones. And so, that is, from a logistics standpoint, from an implementation standpoint, we have a quick time to market; lower total costs of ownership; lower capital risk. But, our clients, some of our larger clients, even, are coming to us demanding that we have no phones. Right? One of our large contact centers, MISS DIG [Systems] of Michigan, they came to us.

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, CEO of Bullfrog. Hey, Ben. How are you doing?

Ben Rife: Hey, 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 telecom company in America. And, we are leading the industry and we are 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? What does that mean?

Ben Rife: So, for the last five years, Mike, 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 — you're no longer needing, or using that desk phone. Rather, you need to rely on new, modern technology, which almost everybody has a cell phone. And, your cell phone has become your business phone. And so, that's really what it means. It's adapting the tools that you already have. You're already using a Mac, a PC, a tablet, and iPad, an iPhone an 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!

Ben Rife: Okay. But, you do have an analog phone at home?

Michael Krigsman: Yes.

Ben Rife: You’re rare, man. How about at work? Do 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? Right now, communication happens anywhere, anytime, from any device. It's SMS messaging. It's video; audio-video conferencing; desktop and file-sharing — things like that. Team collaboration. So, it's the industry… We've gone through the largest change to telecom in the last 150 years and right now, it's 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 the hardware vendors losing market share. We're seeing their numbers, month after month, quarter after quarter, declining. And that's a sign of the times, right? And so, service providers, vendors, … 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 are you going to communicate. How are you going to innovate with the things that we already use: Android, iPhone, Mac, PC, Tablet, iPad? Those are the next-generation business systems; 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, we actually have… There have been zero handsets placed. They have been all unified communications cell phones. And so, that is, from a logistics standpoint, from an implementation standpoint, we have a quick time to market; lower total costs of ownership; lower capital risk. But, our clients, some of our larger clients, even, are coming to us demanding that we have no phones. Right? One of our large contact centers, MISS DIG [Systems] of Michigan, they came to us. The CEO said, “Ben, we don’t want any phones in our organization.” And so that really… I’ve preaching that for five years. And, it’s here. It’s here.

So, our clients are coming to us, and we see a trend: death of the desk phone. And so, yeah. And, inside an organization, Mike, that means that there is 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 is a transition period to get them off of that onto a UC solution.

Michael Krigsman: The technology; where is this going over the next few years?

Ben Rife: Five years from now, three years, five years, we are going to see the complete turn down of the analog phone at work. I'm sorry, but that analog phone you have at home is going to go bye-bye. We're going to 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 going to see more interactive. We're going to see more team collaboration. I could foresee, actually, the death of the email, right? You're going to think I'm crazy for saying that, but I see some of these social technologies — some of the Slacks, the One Talks, etc.; those are changing the way we communicate and rely on email.

Michael Krigsman: Okay. Ben Rife, thank you so much!

Ben Rife: Thank you!