16th - Oct - 2018
Enterprise CPaaS – A Buyers Guide
As more businesses discover the value that CPaaS can add to their applications and existing communications infrastructure, more providers are launching CPaaS solutions.
New entrants and established players are continually evolving their solutions to address the rapidly evolving needs of consumers. And with each new communication channel on offer, the contextual capability of CPaaS increases so that nearly all consumers can be reached, whatever their preference for ‘conversation’, wherever they are.
However, the market for true CPaaS providers is actually fairly small. This is because there are only a handful of companies with the infrastructure and direct mobile operator connections needed to deliver CPaaS globally. Instead, many companies are attempting to operate CPaaS through multiple third-party Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that entail fragmented best-effort OTT service delivery and technology partnerships.
For multinational brands and businesses, that demand the most reliable and secure solutions, this quasi-CPaaS approach is problematic. To help enterprises navigate the inherent complexities of selecting a CPaaS provider, there are six fundamental questions that need to be asked…
Does My CPaaS Provider Operate Its Own Infrastructure?
Many CPaaS providers are, in fact, operating virtual networks via network and data center partners. Enterprise-class providers, on the other hand, have made significant investments in the necessary infrastructure they own, and have direct management and control over their backend network. This means they can offer greater service level agreements that commit to reliability, voice and video quality, response times and delivery benchmarks in writing.
The same delivery assurance is just not possible from providers delivering their services through partnerships. Resolving network issues involves troubleshooting, and coordinating with external network partners for example.
Is There A Flexible Cost Structure?
Basic CPaaS providers offer a flat-rate, per-API call or message pricing, but in terms of volume of interactions, enterprise needs vary. Costs should be offered as an array of pricing structures and include on-demand tariffs, and usage-based discounts, allowing choice and flexibility based on requirements.
In addition, enterprise-class CPaaS providers can offer discounts based on the entire value of an account that factors in revenue from delivery, and value-added services such as professional services, design and integration.
Does The Provider Offer Direct Tier 1 Connectivity?
To ensure timely delivery of A2P messaging traffic, direct connectivity is essential. Some providers still lack the capability, or inclination, to seek direct connectivity to the SS7 network. However, these providers often have significantly lower completion (delivery) rates than their competitors, while their more protracted delivery process (more network ‘hops’) means that latency is often insufficient to fulfil time-critical messaging.
Furthermore, more than one in three users will request a repeat message if the first one is not delivered within 11 seconds, resulting in escalating messaging costs to the business.
Is The Platform Scalable?
Basic CPaaS providers are a reasonable choice for small companies or start-ups that are prototyping early products and services. Larger enterprises, on the other hand, build their products to achieve critical mass on short timescales.
Car manufacturers, for example, expect to sell millions of new vehicles with new features in a single year. If that new product has a messaging component (be that an IoT or customer service requirement) you better make sure that the CPaaS provider can scale to meet the mass-market ambitions of your product.
Enterprise-class CPaaS providers are well positioned to not only help these larger businesses integrate communications into their products quickly, but to also support rapid adoption and extended peak usage.
Does The Provider Facilitate IoT Device Connectivity?
We are living in a world where the number of connected devices is soaring. Spurred on by the commercial deployment of 5G, Gartner estimates that by 2020, 20.4 billion connected things will be in use and that total spending on endpoints services will reach almost $2 trillion in 2018.
IoT devices are proliferating the home, the workplace, and most certainly the enterprise, encompassing not just PCs, tablets, laptops and mobile phones, but new segments including smart meters, smart grids, wearables, TVs, vehicles, appliances, industrial machinery and robotics.
Enterprises will, in turn, require a CPaaS solution that is capable of managing the complexity of multiple MNO (Mobile Network Operator) relationships and charging models across a wide variety of connected devices. This will be important to provide the messaging interface between applications built on IoT and the consumers that will use them – interacting with a service station that is relaying data about a connected car for example.
What Are The Regulatory & Compliance Implications Of Using My Data?
Enterprises increasingly seek to utilize the reams of data that result from consumer, employee and asset interactions for a variety of purposes – to optimize workflow, reduce inefficiencies, tailor offerings to customers, or plan for peak usage for example. For this, they require a CPaaS offering with a number of analytics features that allow full visibility to the accumulated usage data and the tools to assess its implications for the business.
Additionally, in Europe the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) means enterprises that use or store consumer data (just about any company) must pursue explicit consumer consent to use it. Elsewhere in the world, many industries, including healthcare, government, and the financial sector, have strict regulatory and compliance requirements like HIPAA for healthcare and PCI for banking services to name a few.
Compliance requirements usually apply not only to the enterprise, but often are extended to the businesses that supply products and services to them. And where they do exist, enterprises should seek out a CPaaS provider that offers the appropriate level of joint compliance as a fundamental part of the onboarding process.
In an age of reliance on consumer communications, security threats and regulation, all of those CPaaS attributes are necessary to mitigate risk and also deliver new engagement opportunities.
If you want to find out more about CPaaS, take a look at the first in our series of 4 eBooks: Enterprise CPaaS, The Customer Service Imperative.