CPaaS (Communications Platform-as-a-Service) has rapidly emerged in the last few years to provide application developers with easy access to the specific communications features they need, without having to make a large investment into a full platform. CPaaS providers make features like SMS and MMS messaging, voice and video calling, and virtual phone numbers available via just a few lines of code that application developers can use to either build their own applications or embed communications functions into existing apps. Most CPaaS providers charge either on a flat-rate, or per-use basis, enabling customers to only pay for what they need, and to avoid large up-front investments.
Nemertes “Unified Communications and Collaboration: Research Study 2018-19,” based on data gathered from more than 600 end-user organizations, found that almost 8% of participants were already using CPaaS, while another 38% planned to do so by the end of 2019, or were evaluating CPaaS for future use. Use cases included:
- Sending of SMS notifications to customers for reminders, status updates, or marketing purposes.
- Establishing virtual phone numbers to establish a local, in-market presence, especially in regions with high long distance calling costs.
- Temporary virtual phone numbers to associate with marketing campaigns.
- Enabling click-to-call from within mobile apps, while masking phone numbers of parties involved in a call (e.g. to a delivery driver or field service representative).
CPaaS isn’t only for end-user organizations. Unified Communications-as-a-Service Service (UCaaS) providers increasingly look to use it for many of the same benefits, including quickly provisioning phone numbers for new customers, offering features like virtual phone numbers, text to phone, and integration of SMS into desktop and mobile softphones. The business case for a service provider is no different than that of an end-user organization: The ability to quickly provision new services, at minimal cost, and potentially extend service coverage to areas in which the UCaaS provider lacks a local presence.
Service providers evaluating CPaaS will find a large market of providers, each with different approaches and strengths. Finding the right provider means performing due diligence to determine if the provider’s capabilities align with your own need.
Nemertes recommends considering the following:
- What features does the provider offer today, and what will they deliver in the future?
- What ability do they offer to help you in leveraging their APIs to create your own differentiated service offerings
- Do they support the markets that you operate within?
- What is the back-end platform for PSTN connectivity? Do they have localized access in your operating markets?
- Do they offer a flexible pricing model that allows you to avoid large initial investment?
- How quickly do they deliver new capabilities and features?
- Can they support your regulatory operating environment?
- How reliable is their service?
- How do they report performance in real-time?
- What service and support options to they offer and how do their customers rate them?
- What experience do they have in supporting similar types of customers?
Casting a wide net, and perform a thorough evaluation will enable you to not just find a vendor that can meet your immediate needs, but a partner that can grow with you as CPaaS capabilities continue to evolve.