Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS) is currently one of the hottest opportunities in the cloud communication space.
As companies increasingly turn to technology to drive customer experience (CX) transformation and streamline operations, Juniper Research predicts that the CPaaS industry will generate over $34 billion in sales by 2026.
This remarkable growth is propelled not only by the increasing adoption of “traditional” channels such as SMS and voice, but also by a whole new wave of innovation. Key new technologies include real-time video, AI-powered conversational automation, advanced messaging channels, and omnichannel offerings.
With so much to offer, the CPaaS market is a busy space. We have already seen big companies like Microsoft enter the industry, joining a list of established players. In such a crowded market, it is critical for those making the purchasing decision to understand what sets CPaaS vendors apart and what features they should evaluate.
Single applications become a central platform
One of the most important considerations for buyers is how their business, which serves millions of customers, should implement CPaaS.
Traditionally, companies have used SDKs and APIs to deploy communications in their messaging apps on a case-by-case basis. However, as companies expand their efforts, what started as a single app to send SMS notifications will likely morph into hundreds of disconnected apps. Each application will have its own code, system integrations, and logic to manage, and without significant development and IT resources, this approach makes it difficult to scale communications and leads to interrupted customer experiences.
To solve this snowball problem and the proliferation of single-purpose applications, some CPaaS providers provide all the functionality required to automate end-to-end journeys and manage communication applications on a central platform. The platform acts as the glue between existing back-end systems and channels, providing a single point of orchestration that lays the foundation for a connected communication experience.
Therefore, decision makers should prioritize vendors that will give their business the flexibility to deploy their first CPaaS-enabled applications on a use-case basis, prototyping new capabilities and channels, but also offering a central platform to which they swing when they begin to ladder. If they don’t, they may get to a point where their selected supplier becomes a bottleneck for innovation in the future.
CPaaS: key features to evaluate
When evaluating different CPaaS solutions, these five features should be at the forefront of a decision maker’s mind:
1. APIs and SDKs
APIs and SDKs, or Application Programming Interfaces and Software Development Kits, are the cornerstones of CPaaS. Decision makers should take stock of the APIs and SDKs their business needs and check their availability with a potential vendor. The more a supplier offers, the better. This way, if you want to take advantage of new channels or other CPaaS capabilities in the future, you won’t have to add standalone solutions to support them.
2. End-to-end automation
To make disparate business and partner systems interoperable, companies need a vendor to connect them. Inbound system integrations enable events ingested by enterprise systems to trigger communications, while outbound integrations enable finding and updating records in systems. These two-way integration capabilities enable end-to-end automation of journeys that seamlessly orchestrate interactions across multiple systems and channels.
3. Network connectivity
Reliability, traceability and scalability are extremely important for global enterprises. As a result, the type of connection to carrier networks and digital messaging providers offered by CPaaS providers becomes another differentiator, impacting everything from latency, options for sender IDs, delivery reports and message security. Therefore, it is essential to look for a provider that offers Tier 1 connectivity to carriers/mobile operators.
4. Tools throughout the application lifecycle
CPaaS vendors are leading the way in helping companies transition to a low-code development approach. The centerpiece for many vendors is a low-code builder that allows developers to automate and redefine customer journeys incrementally and quickly. Decision makers should evaluate a vendor’s visual builder, but also ensure that there are tools for each stage of the application lifecycle that cater to a broader set of users. Look for built-in tools that simplify debugging, configure communication patterns, help ensure compliance, and help optimize journeys with analytics.
5. Support beyond the platform
The communications landscape is complex, and expertise is needed to design successful communications solutions, manage the different capabilities of each channel, and know which use cases will have a positive impact. Decision makers should assess the level of support they will need, not only at the time of purchase, but also in the future, as each CPaaS vendor takes a different approach to how they support their customers.
For more information on best practices and other qualities to consider when selecting a CPaaS solution, download our IT Buyer’s Guide to CPaaS.
This article is part of a paid partnership with mobilewhich is part of Webex by Cisco.