Customers today expect communications that are consistent, highly personalized, always available, flexible and accessible enough to serve a variety of channels. Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) provides a cost-effective and flexible way to meet these customer needs in today’s ever-evolving business environment.
CPaaS is a cloud-based delivery model that allows companies to integrate real-time communication capabilities into business applications using application programming interfaces. These real-time communication capabilities include video, voice, messaging and verification.
CPaaS allows developers to add real-time communication capabilities to existing business applications for organizations. Third-party CPaaS services provide internal developer tools to integrate communication functions. CPaaS as a cloud computing service allows organizations to add these capabilities without investing in building their own back-end infrastructures.
See also: Best Network Management Solutions
Types of CPaaS providers
CPaaS providers can be divided into the following categories:
Pure Play Provider
Pure play providers are the more established providers in the CPaaS market; They offer services that go beyond basic messaging and voice APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). Such services are characterized by additional communication channels and advanced modules and APIs. These solutions provide richer tools for development teams. they include Twilio, plivoand sinch among other.
SMS, application-to-person and person-to-application specialists
These vendors have expanded their scope beyond their specialties into the evolving CPaaS market. They offer relatively young services either as different consolidated services or as early stage service offerings. Kalerya and Soprano design are examples of these providers.
Traditional corporate communications providers
These providers offer services resulting from the creation and extension of existing communication solutions to CPaaS products. they include Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise and Avaya.
Communications Service Providers
Organizations with competitive advantages such as advanced networking capabilities dominate this category. Businesses with advanced networking capabilities can offer their customers specialized services ranging from a dedicated customer service team to customized advanced features.
See also: Best Cloud Networking Solutions
Difference between CPaaS and UCaaS
CPaaS and Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) appear to be similar, as they both give businesses access to a feature-rich communications stack. In fact, they are similar in that they share the same cloud foundation over which they are deployed using private and public IP networks. However, CPaaS focuses on enriching customer communication channels, while UCaaS focuses on internal channels that unify communication into a consistent experience regardless of location or device.
Unlike CPaaS, where users can select specific APIs to add to their existing communications stack without a new backend, UCaaS offers customers a one-stop platform with multiple built-in capabilities. UCaaS provides instant access to rich communication features and channels such as video conferencing, phone services, usage reporting and more. It provides an environment that is ready to use out of the box.
Because CPaaS offers greater customization than UCaaS, it requires a lot more coding and software development. As a result, most CPaaS users have the necessary programming experience to work with APIs and SDKs (Software Development Kits) or have an in-house development team. This makes UCaaS more convenient, but users often pay for communication channels and features they don’t need.
See also: Best IoT Platforms for Device Management
Voice Communication APIs
CPaaS allows users to use voice APIs to embed outbound calls into their communications stack. This is particularly useful when users need to quickly adapt to a changing environment and increase or decrease their call capacity. Speech APIs can also be used for incoming call routing to simplify incoming call processing.
Voice APIs also include Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking, which provides connectivity to customers’ IP-based communications infrastructure. Voice communication APIs can also be used for call recording and transcription, voice messaging, text-to-speech, answering machine detection, WebRTC calling, number masking, and more.
Users can add many messaging communication features like SMS and MMS text messaging, social media messaging, email, web messaging and more to their communication stack. Common messaging features include dedicated SMS numbers and dedicated short codes for text messaging. The Messaging API allows users to integrate real-time, two-way messaging and automated chatbots into their applications.
Authentication and verification functions provided by APIs include language authentication; cross-channel two-factor authentication; verification codes; Push notifications for account login attempts; and format, carrier, and caller searches.
Third-party integration APIs
Most CPaaS providers provide APIs that allow users to integrate third-party apps like Zoom, Salesforce, Slack, and more with their current custom apps.
CPaaS platforms can also offer APIs for additional functionality such as IoT, E911 services, task management and automated workflows, analytics and reporting, omnichannel communications, among others.
See also: Top Enterprise Networking Companies
Benefits of CPaaS
Easy integration into existing applications
CPaaS can be easily integrated into all customer business applications. Additionally, the integrity of these applications is not compromised by the addition of CPaaS since they predominantly use APIs.
With CPaaS, the flexible needs of customers can be met without ever having to subscribe to additional services that they neither need nor will ever use. The APIs can be modified to create the best solutions for their use cases.
A plus for customer service and customer loyalty
CPaaS helps companies create customer bases that trust their businesses by making it easier for customers to achieve real-time communications. Businesses can also quickly handle any customer issues and gain a better understanding of their customers.
Because CPaaS systems are fully scalable, customers can add or remove features based on their needs. This helps clients evolve effectively with the changing needs of their industries and customers.
Being cloud-based, CPaaS platforms can save their customers money in the long run. Their pricing models often entail paying only for the services that customers want to integrate and implement, which is often cheaper than the cost of hiring labor to build and maintain their own communications infrastructure.
Disadvantages of CPaaS
- Required technical knowledge: Some technical coding and development skills are required to use CPaaS, and complex applications may require in-house development teams.
- Prebuilt Business Application: CPaaS requires pre-built business applications to work.
- Performance Impact: Adding too many APIs to an application often degrades the application’s performance, causing lag.
- Security Risks: CPaaS is not immune to security risks such as hacking, social engineering, and DDoS attacks.
See also: Trends shaping the future of IoT
CPaaS Use Cases
A common use case of CPaaS in the financial industry includes customer interactions such as automated bank balance notifications, face-to-face video conferencing with customers, depositing checks, and sending secure documents and forms. However, the use of CPaaS in the financial industry is shaped by industry regulatory requirements to ensure they are compliant when interacting with customers and sharing sensitive information.
The COVID-19 pandemic was largely responsible for the boom in healthcare CPaaS usage. The video APIs for HIPAA-compliant telemedicine appointments have become particularly popular with healthcare providers. Doctors are also using remote patient monitoring via the Internet of Things (IoT) to keep tabs on patient health, while patients can use CPaaS capabilities to book and manage appointments with doctors online.
Real estate agents can use CPaaS solutions like messaging APIs to reach potential buyers/tenants in their business applications or websites. These potential buyers/renters can book property viewings, subscribe to newsletters and interact with real estate agents in real-time.
Several retailers, whether online or brick-and-mortar, prefer to use CPaaS solutions because of their ability to provide real-time delivery updates and order confirmations. Retailers can send sale notifications, discount codes, and more based on customer interest.
See also: 9 ways AI can help improve cloud management