Chris McGuganApril 29, 2019

The CPaaS Vendor Paradox: Invest Wisely

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Let’s talk Communications Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS). The global market is expected to exceed $800 million by the end of this year, having more than doubled in size from 2015, with 70% of companies now saying they’re focused on investing in developer programs. It’s the hottest new thing in the communications and collaboration space, but caution should be practiced. I know…I always have to be a buzzkill. But I promise you’ll thank me later.

The decision-making process is all the trickier for “sexy” new solutions like CPaaS that IT leaders are drooling over. To get into the market quickly, some will partner with vendors without doing the research necessary to come to an informed conclusion based on what’s best for their organization. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t being honest: many of these vendors throw money at flashy marketing campaigns when in reality their CPaaS foundation lacks the breadth, depth, and convenience of other leaders in the space.

In short, what some vendors sell is far different than what customers are seeking. And that’s a big problem.

The situation is in some ways like the Fyre Festival (if you haven’t seen the documentaries, go watch). So much money was spent on advertising the luxury music festival that by the time guests arrived the operations team was experiencing serious problems related to food, security, accommodation, medical services and artist relations (literally everything needed for a safe and successful event). Instead of luxury villas and gourmet meals that attendees had paid for, they received prepackaged sandwiches and FEMA tents to sleep in.

It would be an exaggeration to draw a direct comparison, but it proves the deceptive charm of loud marketing. If you’re looking to get on board with CPaaS, here’s what I personally recommend for finding your best provider: 

  • Does the company fully describe what it does? Does the vendor regurgitate surface-level phrases (“CPaaS is the future”) or go deeper into what it actually sells and why customers should buy it? This is key for understanding the provider’s competitive dynamics and how your organization will ultimately be affected by an investment decision.
  • Have they created a problem or solution? Consider a vendor that pays to access thousands of different telecoms through a simple API. Makes sense at first, considering they’d have to sustain a lot of cost and complexity to access them directly. The only thing is that there’s no reason for this cost or complexity to exist in the first place. There are vendors out there that have eliminated those barriers from the start. Remove fabricated issues and you remove customers’ incentive to pay.
  • Is their value truly customer-focused? The kind of vendors described above are willing to pay big to get customers on board, fueling their enormous marketing spend. The problem with this is that it can take time and money away from understanding the use cases their customers are building to maximize quality of service and overall value.

CPaaS is not something unique to certain vendors, especially not those frivolously spending on advertising. There are vendors who have been doing CPaaS for just as long and better, and it’s important that business leaders understand their options.

Take us, for example. Avaya already has the world’s largest unified communications (UC) and contact center (CC) customer base. We have built a community whose unique use cases we inherently understand and can, therefore, better target. We quietly launched our CPaaS platform in 2016 and have steadily worked it into our different solutions through the years. You can pay as you go, with the same access to scale and work within your existing environment of Avaya solutions.

While our CPaaS platform is developer-friendly (we have organically grown to more than 12,000 developers since launching), we have chosen to dedicate ourselves to integrating the platform more seamlessly and completely with our internal Avaya products. For example, integrating CPaaS into a cloud identity engine that provides SSO capabilities with cloud vendors like Google and Salesforce.com. Or, tying the platform into our cloud collaboration products like Avaya Spaces so that customers can create applications that integrate every kind of asset including voice, messaging and collaboration under one umbrella.

Pretty much every provider delivers on the most basic and important promise of CPaaS: letting users easily integrate voice and messaging communications into their various business applications. We’re focusing on providing our existing user base the CPaaS experiences they desire within Avaya as an asset we own wholly, and we believe that makes all the difference.

The bottom line is that you have CPaaS options. You don’t want to get in bed with a vendor only to find out that you’re sleeping in a FEMA tent.

Chris McGugan

Chris leads Avaya's technology strategy development to guide future investments. His focus is on assessing customer needs, market trends and how new and emerging technologies can drive value and improved customer experience as part of the digital transformation in communications that Avaya is leading.

Read Articles by Chris McGugan

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