What is Communications Platform as a Service?

Customers today expect communication that is consistent, highly personalized, always available, flexible, and accessible enough to cut across a multitude of channels. Communications platform as a service (CPaaS) provides a cost-effective and flexible way to meet these customer demands in today’s ever-evolving business environment.

CPaaS is a cloud-based delivery model that enables enterprises to include real-time communication features in business applications, using application programming interfaces. These real-time communication capabilities include video, voice, messaging, and verification.

CPaaS empowers developers to add real-time communication functions to existing business applications for organizations. Third-party CPaaS services provide in-house developers tools to incorporate communication capabilities. CPaaS, as a cloud computing service, lets enterprises add these capabilities without investing in building their own back-end infrastructures.

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Types of CPaaS Providers

CPaaS providers can be classified into the following categories:

Pure-play vendors

Pure-play vendors are the more established providers in the CPaaS market; they offer services beyond basic messaging and voice APIs (application programming interfaces). Such services are characterized by extra communication channels and extended modules and APIs. These solutions offer more extensive tools for development teams. They include Twilio, Plivo, and Sinch among others.

Specialists in SMS, application-to-person, and person-to-application

These providers have widened their scope beyond their specialization areas and into the evolving CPaaS market. They offer relatively emergent services as either diverse consolidated services or early-stage service offerings. Kalerya and Soprano Design are examples of these vendors.

Traditional enterprise communications vendors

These vendors provide services resulting from the creation and augmentation of existing communications solutions into CPaaS products. They include Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise and Avaya.

Communications service providers

Organizations with competitive advantages such as advanced network capabilities dominate this category. Companies with advanced network capabilities can provide specialized services, ranging from a dedicated customer support team to customized advanced features, to their clients.

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Difference Between CPaaS and UCaaS

CPaaS and unified communications as a service (UCaaS) seem similar, as they both offer businesses access to a feature-rich communications stack. Indeed, they are similar in that they share the same cloud foundation that they are delivered over using private and public IP networks. However, CPaaS focuses on the enrichment of customer communication channels while UCaaS focuses on internal channels that unify communications into a constant experience regardless of location or device.

Unlike CPaaS, where users can select specific APIs to add to their existing communications stack without a new back end, UCaaS provides customers with a one-stop platform with several built-in functionalities. UCaaS provides instantaneous access to vast communication features and channels such as video meetings, phone service, usage reporting, and more. It offers one environment that is ready for use right out of the box.

Since CPaaS offers greater customization than UCaaS, it requires a lot more coding and software development. As a result, most CPaaS users have the coding experience required to work with APIs and SDKs (software development kits) or have an in-house development team. This makes UCaaS more convenient, but users often find themselves paying for communication channels and capabilities they do not require.

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CPaaS Functions

Voice communication APIs

With CPaaS, users can use voice APIs to embed outgoing calls to their communications stack. This is particularly useful when users need to rapidly adapt to a changing environment and scale up or scale down their calling capacity. Voice APIs can also be used for inbound call routing to ease the processing of incoming calls.

Voice APIs also include SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) 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.

Messaging APIs

Users can add many messaging communications features like SMS and MMS text messaging, social media messaging, email, web messaging, and more to their communications stack. Some of the common messaging functions include dedicated SMS numbers and dedicated short codes for text messaging. The messaging API enables users to build two-way, real-time messaging and automated chatbots into their applications.

Authentication/verification APIs

Authentication and verification capabilities provided by APIs include voice authentication; cross-channel two-factor authentication; verification codes; account login attempt push notifications; and format, carrier, and caller lookups.

Third-party integration APIs

Most CPaaS providers deliver APIs that enable users to integrate third-party applications such as Zoom, Salesforce, Slack, and more into their current custom applications.

Extra functions

CPaaS platforms can also offer APIs for additional functions like IoT, E911 services, task management and automated workflows, analytics and reporting, and omnichannel communication among others.

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Pros of CPaaS

Easy integration with existing applications

CPaaS is simple to integrate with whatever business applications customers have. Additionally, the integrity of these applications is not compromised by adding CPaaS as they predominantly use APIs.

Customizability

With CPaaS, the flexible needs of clients can be satisfied without ever subscribing to extra services they neither require nor will ever use. The APIs can be modified to create the best solutions as per their use cases.

A plus for customer service and client engagement

CPaaS has been assisting businesses to create client bases that trust their businesses by making it easier for clients to achieve real-time communication. Businesses can also swiftly handle any client issues and receive a greater understanding of their customers.

Scalability

As CPaaS systems are fully scalable, clients can add or remove features as per their requirements. This helps clients to effectively evolve with the changing needs of their industries and customers.

Cost efficiency

Being cloud-based, CPaaS platforms are capable of saving money for their clients in the long run. Their pricing models often involve paying for only the services clients decide to integrate and implement, which is often cheaper than the cost of hiring labor to build and maintain their own communications infrastructure.

Cons of CPaaS

  • Technical Knowledge Requirement: To use CPaaS, some technical knowledge of coding and development is needed, and in-house development teams may be required for complex applications.
  • Prebuilt Business Application: CPaaS needs prebuilt business applications to function.
  • Performance Impact: When too many APIs are added to an application, the performance of the application is often impacted, resulting in lags.
  • Security Risks: CPaaS is not immune to security risks such as hacking, social engineering, and DDoS attacks.

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CPaaS Use Cases

Finance

A common use case of CPaaS in the financial industry involves customer interactions such as automatic account balance notifications in banking, one-on-one video meetings with clients, check deposits, and sending out secure documents and forms. The use of CPaaS in the financial industry is, however, shaped by the regulatory requirements of the industry to ensure they are compliant when interacting with customers and sharing sensitive information.

Healthcare

The COVID-19 pandemic was significantly responsible for the boom of CPaaS usage in healthcare. The video APIs for HIPAA-compliant telemedicine appointments became especially popular with healthcare providers. Medical practitioners also use remote patient monitoring through Internet of Things (IoT) to keep an eye on patient health while patients can take advantage of CPaaS capabilities to book and manage appointments with medical practitioners online.

Real estate

Real estate agents can utilize CPaaS solutions such as messaging APIs to reach out to prospective buyers/renters in their business applications or websites. These prospective buyers/renters can book tours of properties, subscribe to newsletters, and interact with real estate agents in real-time.

Retail

Several retailers, whether online or brick-and-mortar, prefer using CPaaS solutions as they let them provide delivery updates and order confirmations in real-time. Retailers can send sale alerts, discount codes and more, depending on customer interests.

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Collins Ayuya
Collins Ayuya
Collins Ayuya is pursuing his Master's in Computer Science and is passionate about technology. He loves sharing his experience in Artificial Intelligence, Telecommunications, IT, and emerging technologies through his writing. He is passionate about startups, innovation, new technology, and developing new products as he is also a startup founder. Collins enjoys doing pencil and graphite art and is also a sportsman, and gamer during his downtime.

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