by Jeffrey Singman, SVP Sales and Marketing, Kandy Communications
The enterprise communications landscape, and the options for supporting real time communications across messaging, chat, voice, video, collaboration, and customer engagement, are evolving rapidly. Innovations in the “XaaS” world are good news for organizations wishing to remain competitive while controlling costs.
Cloud services and high-speed, resilient, pin drop quality networks, including 5G as the next generation steadily rolls out, are fueling innovation for creative, programmable human communications applications. Clouds, networks, and applications are also becoming increasingly secure, and this combination of factors is motivating IT leaders to move rapidly. Not just to test the waters when it comes to as-a-service alternatives to aging, complicated and expensive “phone systems” – but to jump into the deep end, especially as more employees are working from home.
Kandy has been the market leader in developing a full range of cloud-based solutions, from Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to Communications Platforms as a Service (CPaaS) to Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS).
For the last seven years since our inception, we have worked with our channel and service provider partners, large government agencies, and corporate enterprises to implement one or more of these solutions. Starting with a proof-of-concept (stood up in a matter of days) then expanding across locations including globally distributed offices and supporting mobile and remote workers. And especially this year, we are seeing adoption of multiple solutions.
After implementing a UCaaS solution, for example, our customers see immediate positive outcomes – the quality is excellent, the reliability is proven, and the cost savings are extraordinary. Why shouldn’t they then pivot to add embedded communications into their website and business applications using CPaaS services for example, then expand to move their contact centers to the same cloud?
These three pillars are not “siloed” – they are in fact a harmonious foundation for enabling continual, intuitive, creative, and productive communications internally and externally, with interfaces employees enjoy and experiences customers love.
Definitions & Distinctions
Communications service options are more flexible and feature-rich than ever but selecting which kind of services to start with can be a challenge.
Let’s start with the classic definition of Unified Communications (UC), which we mastered over the last two decades, since VoIP came on the scene. We connected the Public Switched Telephone Networks (PSTN) to software switches and other technologies including VoIP phones, softphones on the desktop, SIP networking and trunking, and integration of Hosted PBX (Private Branch Exchange) with mobile devices. We carefully retained the many features businesses have come to rely on, including call routing, voice mail, presence, instant messaging, audio and web conferencing, desktop sharing and more.
Hybrid systems and virtualized services took telephony further, and now that the UC journey is complete (migrating away from plain old telephone systems (POTS) to voice over internet protocol (VoIP), voice is simply an application in the Internet Protocol world.
UC as a Service: What is UCaaS?
UCaaS is a category of cloud delivery mechanisms for real time enterprise communications. With UCaaS, unified communications services in the cloud can be made available to businesses from large to small. UCaaS continues its rapid growth curve, given the quality and security now available, the availability and affordability of cloud data centers, and the continual improvement of IP networks, both fixed and cellular.
Organizations use UCaaS solutions to provide employees with an end-to-end collaboration platform. They can use these tools on their computers, desk phones, smartphones, or tablets.
Unlike plain VoIP, which is now under the UCaaS umbrella, organizations who adopt UCaaS now have access to meeting solutions, unified messaging including voice translation between applications, presence and instant messaging, desktop software, mobile apps, workstream collaboration, performance dashboards and more.
Kandy UCaaS was established as one of our first offerings, including Smart Office, which is more than another attractive UC client because it is built on a new generation of technology that reduces the cost and complexity of UC deployments. Using a combination of WebRTC and client containers, Kandy created its own patented technology, called Omni.
Omni clients are centrally managed, like a web page and browser-based client, but do not sacrifice the rich functionality of a traditional client. Service providers and enterprise resellers can make changes to the client UI and see the results in just seconds, across multiple devices, without deploying a new client to every user.
UCaaS is a huge step up from the VoIP/PBX world, and according to both IDC and Gartner, is already a $46 billion market. Gartner expects the unified communications market share to more than double from 17% in 2018 to 35% in 2023.
Communications Platform as a Service: What is CPaaS?
CPaaS differs from UCaaS, sharing many features, but is a step-up given the programmability based on platform building blocks that can be integrated into enterprise applications through application programming interfaces (APIs).
First, Platform as a Service (PaaS) has been around for many years and resides in the general category of cloud computing services that enables customers to develop, run, and manage applications without the complexity of building and maintaining the infrastructure.
When we add “Communications” to that, we add all the functionality available in UCaaS – and more.
A Communications Platform as a Service allows developers to add voice, video, & messaging to their apps without having to build a real-time communications stack, without needing to build backend infrastructure and interfaces. It is complicated, risky and expensive to build and operate a communications stack, requiring a super reliable real-time network infrastructure that includes robust interfaces and the use of common programming languages.
Kandy has pioneered CPaaS by offering a complete development framework for building real-time communications features including a broad array of software tools, standards-based application programming interfaces (APIs), sample code, and pre-built applications we call wrappers. With CPaaS, users can also connect seamlessly while managing multiple devices, whether from mobile, tablet, or web browser. Their communication capabilities no longer depend on their device but on their preferred application and workflow.
Kandy’s CPaaS enables highly customizable features that allow Communication Service Providers (CSP) and businesses to work together internally or to connect to their customers with an immersive, in context, end user experience.
Kandy CPaaS is unique in the market because it is a white label CPaaS that enables CSPs to offer embedded communications APIs and SDKs to enterprise developers under their own brand. In so doing they can bring the solution to market much more quickly than homegrown solutions, and compere quickly and effectively with the OTT CPaaS players.
We provide support and product documentation to help developers and offer our software development kits (SDKs) and libraries for building applications on different desktop and mobile platforms. Enterprise development teams using CPaaS save on salaries, infrastructure, and time to market and only pay for the services they need. Kandy’s white label CPaaS allows multi-tenancy within a separate, secure environment. One example is AT&T’s API Marketplace which is powered by Kandy. We encourage you to sign up for a free account and see for yourself how to work with communications APIs as well as turnkey applications you can deploy for your business quickly and easily.
With nearly limitless creativity, Kandy’s CPaaS supports applications including video-enabled help desks, appointment reminders, authentication services, digital shopping assistants, field service support, embedded text, voice and video chat, and much more.
For example, a customer can click on a button on a company’s website and instantly reach a support agent through the modality of their choice – they can talk, text or video chat. Companies can also use CPaaS to better track customer engagement across different platforms. And this brings us to the next level.
Contact Center as a Service: What is CCaaS?
As cloud services have grown to support the Software as a Service (SaaS) revolution, Contact Centers have also migrated to the cloud. This trend was especially accelerated in 2020, with the work-from-home mandates driven by the global pandemic. Contact Center as a Service is extremely exciting and popular as enterprises and service providers (Business Process Outsourcing companies who manage contact centers for large brands) enable basic and advanced contact center capabilities without costly capital investment in infrastructure, and with a built-in ability to scale as demand grows.
While there is clearly an overlap between UCaaS, CPaaS, and CCaaS, they are all purposefully designed to support great customer experiences in a multi-channel world. As enterprise leaders continue to name “Customer Experience” or “CX” as their top priority in 2021, perhaps the best news about CCaaS is in the opportunity to integrate real time communications sessions with their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems.
When they do, they are understanding and supporting the entire customer journey, from attracting new customers to retaining and growing existing customers. They are giving customers the “channel of their choice” – whether voice, email, webchat, screen sharing, social media interactions and more.
Given the “programmability” on the CPaaS that supports APIs and makes integration and creativity possible, personalization can make ever experience faster, friendlier, and more productive.
Kandy’s Cloud Contact Center offerings provides enterprises with various levels of capabilities as one size does not fit all. From basic to one of the most sophisticated contact center solutions available. Kandy’s CCaaS solutions ensure our customers can deliver inbound and outbound engagement tools that meet or exceed end customers’ expectations. Organizations can be assured that they can connect with customers via traditional call center tools, text messaging, web chat, social media and more. More importantly, agents and supervisors can dynamically adjust to support different inbound or outbound engagement types. This reduces customer wait time and maximizes agent productivity. It also delivers a comprehensive reporting model that enables managers to make the right decisions, right away.
Power of Three: How Everything as a Service Can Impact Business Results – Supporting Growth and Controlling Costs
While UCaaS, CPaaS, and CCaaS are different in many respects, developing a strategy that leverages benefits across the board is where the largest opportunities exist. With “communications as data” and with the growth of big data and analytics, the upside longer term is to leverage that data and turn it into Business Intelligence across the organization.
- Who is interacting with whom?
- Are we improving the customer experience?
- What impact are we having on sales?
- Are we improving customer support and service?
- Which products are performing better?
- Where are there service gaps?
- How do communications habits translate to productivity?
What can we do better, as a cross-functional business, to serve our customers, to remain competitive, to support our employees, to work with our partners, and to communicate securely and creatively to achieve our objectives?
I will be sharing more on the topic of Real Time Communications “Cross Platform” in a future article. In the meantime, please contact me if you’d like to learn more about how the harmony of real time communications can benefit your organization in 2021 and beyond.