Cloud Communications 2018: Build or Rent
The various teams in your organization have similar and also very different needs. Sales teams generally request integration with Salesforce. Marketing, integration into Social & Marketing toolsets. Product teams needs a feedback loop that will provide insights into usability and trends for popular (and unpopular) features. Customer Support need integration into Ticketing and help systems. Customer Success needs tight integration with success platforms tied to product. All of these teams need reporting that provides clarity on progress with established KPI targets. That’s a tall order for many service providers.
How do you decide which cloud communication providers or platforms suit your company’s needs best?
Logically, one would think it could be relatively simple. This process might start with one question; “Do you have developers or do you want to manage development projects?” If the answer is no, your decision just became a whole lot simpler, right? In reality, it’s not that simple.
Cloud Communications Platforms or CPaaS (Communications Platforms as a Service) providers enable APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces for developers. Simply put, APIs can equate to toolset for developers that can used to create features and functionality. In the comms space this might be represented as SMS, Voice, Video, AI, Data Analytics, Fax (yes, fax still exists), etc. Some of these platforms also have professional services teams that can be retained for development projects. For some larger customers, platforms offer the best solution as they generally offers more flexibility and allow for a more tailored approach. The approach also requires more planning and coordination as services /features need to be built before they can be used.
Cloud Communications Service Providers provide various services that are ready to consume by their customers, there is no development required. These services are generally less flexible. There are providers that also provide API access for some features, but the scope of those features generally match the provider offering. These cloud offerings generally take the place of several disparate systems, some of which used to be maintained onsite at the customer location(s). These services are the product of constant innovation business phone systems. Early in the 21st century, we had analog phone systems that were circuit switched and were bound by wires. Those systems either died or evolved into VoIP systems that were packets switched with layers of translation for interoperability with the systems of old. Now we have multi-modal and feature rich systems that encapsulate Voice (desk phone, mobile, desktop), Video (single, multiparty, mobile and desktop), Text (ott + translation for SMS) and Speech-To-Text (some manual assisted some utilizing AI).
Even with all of these fancy features, many larger enterprise companies require a more tailored approach, their workflows can be complex. This means a platform offering is likely more applicable for their use cases. SMB (Small Medium Business) to SME (Small Medium Enterprise) seem to gravitate towards a readymade offering enabled by cloud communications service providers.
There are many great vendors to choose from on both sides of the fence and many times are used in combination to service customers needs.
An example of this might be a larger company who have a need for business communications system that can accommodate administrative staff (desks) and sales types (mobile) users with Voice, Video and Chat. At the same time, they are experiencing heavy volume to their call centres, which has not been optimized. There was considerable investment into the call centre systems and networks only a few years ago, with that in mind the customer is not interested hearing about ripping and replacing equipment and networks. In this scenario, we select a platform play for the call centres and leverage a Cloud UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) offering for the business comms requirements.
Regardless of your needs, now is a good time to be considering options in communications efficiency, optimization and value-add feature & function improvements. There are plenty of options and providers to choose from, all of which are competing fiercely for the business.