9 Things to look for when choosing a CPaaS partner

In previous blogs in this series, we’ve covered the new imperatives governing organisations’ customer engagement strategies. Current challenges and opportunities all suggest that communications in the cloud and communications platform as a service (CPaaS) are the ideal way to manage multiple communication channels, not to mention customer engagement processes and workflows.

Now it’s time to look at how to choose the best partner to work with. For enterprises that are considering adopting a cloud communications approach, there are several things to look out for. CPaaS is already a crowded marketplace, with many providers offering what might at first appear to be very similar services. But the reality is that the market contains providers who have come to CPaaS from very different backgrounds. Not all CPaaS propositions are the same, as providers have tended to develop services to align with their broader position in the communications market.

Let’s look at the basic essentials that organisations have to consider when assessing cloud communications services. There are nine crucial factors that you need to bear in mind:

  1. Geographical reach and operational scale: if you’re operating in a limited number of countries this is not really a concern, but if you have global operations and customer bases you have to be sure that your preferred partner can offer a multi-country footprint. You’ll want to know how many countries and territories they cover with call-and-message termination and whether they support local number services. Ask them how many telecom carriers they have interconnect arrangements with, how many redundant routes they support in any given country, and whether the cloud communications platform can scale to meet peak transaction demands.
  2. Breadth of service portfolio and roadmap for the future: don’t just focus on the type of services that a provider can support (e.g. voice, SMS, RCS, ChatApps, video, IoT etc), but also consider their roadmap for future services, so you can plan service launches with accuracy. You’ll also want to find out whether pre-built applications are available which can help to accelerate development of a customer engagement service. And check whether they offer support for some kind of visual builder or easy-to-use design tool, which can provide an intuitive, template-based approach to solution development.
  3. Platform quality and software credentials: will the partner guarantee a service level agreement governing availability, performance, quality and reliability? Is their cloud communications platform modular, with easy to swap modules, as well as the possibility of mix-and-match capabilities from third parties? Do they regularly carry out software updates to fix bugs and resolve issues? Are analytics and AI techniques used to optimise performance? Does the platform offer intelligence features or programable components to optimise application design and performance?
  4. Availability and quality of APIs, design tools and documentation: does the platform provide easy-to-access and easy-to-use public APIs, while also supporting two-way interactions with RESTful and XML commands? Does the partner provide individual libraries, IDEs and comprehensible online documentation? And what type of support is available for APIs, tools and documentation?
  5. Size of the developer ecosystem and scale of partner programme: how many active developers are using the platform? How extensive is the provider’s own partner programme? Does the provider conduct regular developer outreach activity, including hackathons and developer conferences?
  6. Quality, security, administration and compliance procedures: does the platform ensure secure operations, including encryption, intrusion detection, denial-of-service protection, fraud protection and indemnification? Is the provider compliant with industry certifications such as PCI, FIPS-140, ISO27001, HIPAA, FINRA and GDPR?
  7. Pricing model: how does the provider expect you to pay for the services? Is your only option a usage-based, pay-as-you-go pricing model or can you also choose volume-based discounts or committed use discounts? Can you access the platform and experiment without having to make any commitment or incur costs?
  8. Selling model: does the provider only allow purchase and consumption via self-service options? Or do they also provide assisted sales, including assigned account teams? And do they have a local office presence?
  9. Service model: does the provider only allow self-service options, possibly augmented by community forums? Is assisted support available across multiple channels? How much do they charge for premium levels of support?

These are the kinds of questions that you need to be asking a potential cloud communications provider. How they respond will help to establish a clear set of expectations before you engage. Of course, not all of these questions may be relevant, and they will vary depending on the complexity and customer base of your organisation. However, they will help to establish who are the credible providers in what is a very crowded market.

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