Enterprises of nearly every size and industry depend on communication technology to enable seamless communication and collaboration (among all stakeholders) to achieve its business goals. However, in the past, this was difficult for companies that lacked resources to invest in robust communications tools.
Today, this space has been disrupted by Communication-Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) providers who have managed to even the playing field for both giant corporations and small and medium-sized enterprises.
CPaaS can be described as a cloud-based platform delivery model that empowers developers to seamlessly plugin real-time communications features like messaging, video, and voice into business applications by deploying various application program interfaces (APIs).
The best part of CPaaS is the fact that you don’t have to build any backend infrastructure and interfaces. When you leverage CPaaS, you can benefit from communications capabilities delivered through APIs to add features such as click-to-call, multi-factor authentications, and notifications. These include Multimedia Messaging Services, Short Message Services, telephony, and video.
There’s also the option of using prepackaged bundles that can be deployed by dragging and dropping it into applications. CPaaS providers typically bill customers on a monthly basis at fixed rate blocks for both messages and minutes. Some providers take it a step further and offer a pay-per-use model that charges clients by the second or by the message.
Before communications technology was offered “as-a-service,” building real-time communications protocols were a complicated and costly endeavor. However, it’s now straightforward as developers can take advantage of the tools and support offered by CPaaS providers.
Some of these include the following:
The benefits of incorporating CPaaS into enterprise communication strategy are many. For example, embedding CPaaS into business applications is a low-risk approach to consuming communications services as there isn’t any capital expenditure associated with it.
Development teams can also significantly reduce the time to market by using APIs and SDKs released by the provider. Furthermore, the CPaaS approach can also help businesses mitigate human resources challenges in a highly competitive market.
Other advantages include multi-tenancy, extensive technical support (that ranges from online tutorials to 24/7 live support), and the freedom to concentrate on building the application (and not the backend or infrastructure).
According to the leading market intelligence and advisory firm IDC, the global CPaaS market is forecasted to grow from $867 million in 2016 to $8.2 billion in 2021. This reflects the current business climate where the market is transitioning from its hyper-growth startup phase to a critical-mass stage.
Explosive growth within this segment can be attributed to enterprise digital transformation which has communication and collaboration at its core. At present, CPaaS is also driving improved operational efficiency, customer engagement, and the creation of new revenue streams by developing differentiated customer experiences.
These communications platforms can also be used as a tool to reduce fragmentation in the customer journey by integrating text, video, and voice functionality into business applications.
For example, customer-facing applications can now incorporate communication capabilities like contact centers, service agents, and chatbots. So when an application has all these options, click-to-message or click-to-call functions can be added with minimal effort.
CPaaS technologies can also be leveraged for omnichannel engagement in targeted marketing activities to deliver alerts and reminders. As artificial intelligence (AI) will power chatbot interactions, in time, we can also expect them to evolve and become more sophisticated.
For large enterprises, it’s highly likely that CPaaS will be deployed for both internal and external communications. As a result, there won’t be any need for separate dedicated hardware or third-party applications (that can be costly) to engage in internal and external communications.
The next stage of CPaaS known as CPaaS 3.0 is already coming together with market leaders moving away from basic API functions to offer a wide array of services. For example, some providers now offer solutions to enhance team collaboration, WhatsApp integration, two-factor authentication, and real-time intelligence.
By further deconstructing the toolset and making operations more visual, these platforms are enabling employees who don’t come from an IT background support new segments like the contact center and the Internet of Things. As a result, the market is forecasted to grow even further to $10.9 billion in 2022.
If you look at the bigger picture, CPaaS empowers enterprises to stay ahead of the innovation curve. So while future-proofing your brand can be a challenge, leveraging the “as-a-service” model can help businesses effectively meet new patterns of demand, cost-effectively.
In the years to come, advances in AI, machine learning, and data analytics will enhance communication products across platforms. As machines get closer to uniform communication with humans, business functions like automated self-service will become the norm. When this is achieved, AI will replace humans in call centers.
CPaaS is also forecasted to provide accurate real-time translations that can reduce the need for multilingual customer support representatives. As AI will be at the core of this cloud-based technology, it will also be capable of facial recognition that can confirm identities before providing customer support.
Smart shopping assistants are also expected to evolve and get better at making purchase suggestions based on data analytics. In the same vein, chatbots are also likely to grow in scope and capacity. This means that enterprises can quickly deploy entire teams of chatbots to engage in customer service activities.
CPaaS vendors will also strive to identify ways of incorporating augmented reality and virtual reality into their cloud-based service offering to take video calls and collaboration to the next level. At the same time, CPaaS is also expected to go serverless to help boost developer adoption by reducing the need to deploy on their own machines.
As communication technologies are now accessible to anyone at a minimal cost, even small businesses can scale by leveraging innovative CPaaS offerings. While startups may have been the first to adopt CPaaS out of pure necessity, going forward, large agile enterprises will also follow suit.
The future looks bright for both CPaaS providers and the clients who take advantage of their services. From significant cost savings to enhanced customer interactions, going forward, you can expect these communications platforms to be at the core of business activities.
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