This Industry Viewpoint was authored by Darach Beirne, Vice President of Customer Success at Flowroute, now part of Intrado
Businesses across the globe are still adapting to organizational changes put into place because of the ongoing pandemic and they’re shifting their IT investments accordingly. Many companies have migrated to cloud-based communication systems and workplace tools to maintain continuity, improve remote collaboration across teams and enhance interactions with customers. However, the shift to remote work was sudden and many businesses took a “migrate now, think later” approach and quickly moved to cloud-based telecom providers without a long-term plan.
As we look to the future, some businesses will embrace remote work long-term while others will begin planning for a shift to a hybrid system of remote and in-person operations. In either case, IT decision makers will seek to better understand and improve their cloud communication to maximize their return on investment. As developers and IT teams evaluate a long-term plan for their enterprise communication deployments, securing more control over how they implement new telecom services will help control costs and enhance their capabilities.
To gain greater control over their telephony deployments, companies will need to partner with their CSPs and carriers to determine which cloud telecom configuration is best suited to meet their operational and customer needs. Outlined below are three common telecom configurations businesses can choose from.
A cloud PBX is a business phone system that is hosted entirely on servers in off-site data centers and powered over the internet. A cloud PBX can provide more features than a traditional PBX phone system, while enabling a non-technical administrator to easily set everything up. For example, any new upgrades and features that the service provider releases are added to the phone system automatically. This model offers little to no disruption to an organization as they transition to the cloud and is a common configuration of telecom.
This solution is pre-integrated into a workflow and communication becomes an embedded capability within a critical and valuable software solution. Further, purpose-built means that the product was designed to meet specific business requirements as defined by the customer and its mobile application requirements. This configuration is commonly seen in channel or vertical settings.
Be Your Own Carrier (BYOC)
The BYOC model provides enterprises or third-party software developers with direct access to public carrier-level telephony services through partnerships with Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS) providers. By using APIs, enterprises can build custom communications offerings into their existing services. A perk of this configuration is that developers avoid the complexity often involved with operating network infrastructure while still maintaining control over their customer experience. The BYOC model is especially relevant for companies that are familiar with API deployment and want to leverage API integrations in their telecom resources.
BYOC is also a fit for companies looking for greater overall flexibility. In today’s marketplace, customers’ needs are constantly evolving, and businesses must be nimble to adapt to their needs. The BYOC model helps enterprises make changes without requiring that they invest in new equipment or partner with a new service provider. For example, if data shows that customers prefer texting over calling when communicating with a company, the business can leverage a messaging API to incorporate texting or messaging services into their website or mobile app. In addition, if the company is growing internationally, they will need to quickly iterate new services in new locations – a process that APIs can help facilitate. Alternatively, if the company shrinks due to unforeseen circumstances, they can easily scale down to reduce costs incurred.
Whether or not the BYOC configuration is the right fit for a company will depend on its specific needs and circumstances. For example, if a company is considering how they can cut costs, they might choose to implement a BYOC model of telecom because they can eliminate infrastructure costs. Or if they want to utilize contextual customer service in their contact centers, they might opt to be their own carrier and rely on APIs that store rich data about customer interactions that they can use to improve customer support.
I’ve Heard of “Bring Your Own Carrier.” What’s the Difference?
Similar to BYOC, “Bring-your-own carrier” means businesses have the flexibility to bring their own carrier to their communications platform of choice rather than being forced to work with a single carrier or in a bundled approach. For example, if a company has been working with a specific carrier for several years and is satisfied with its services, they can keep that service provider and plug them into existing platforms (i.e. collaboration applications, existing phone numbers, etc.). The Bring Your Own Carrier model is best suited for companies that do not want to oversee API integrations and prefer a traditional hands-off approach to IT and telecom while still taking advantage of the flexibility and agility of the cloud.
Criteria to Consider When Choosing a BYOC Provider
Whether or not the BYOC venture is a success will have much to do with the carrier selected. A best practice for decision makers is to first deepen their understanding of what capabilities and tools their business needs in order to better provide for their customers. Once they know their customers’ communication preferences, they can then research carriers that can deliver capabilities and tools to meet those needs.
Included below are five important criteria that IT decision makers should take into consideration when selecting a software-centric carrier to support their BYOC efforts.
- Relevant Capabilities:First and foremost, a provider should offer capabilities that are relevant to the business’ needs. Choose carriers with a strong foundation of auto-attendants, call reporting, call management and voicemail features. These features help businesses maintain competitive advantage and provide added benefits to their customers. A few other high-value features include enhanced voice, messaging, video development and application exchange in cloud communications, and SMS, MMS and call recording and transcription.
- Visibility: Cloud-based communications platforms can deliver rich data that can positively impact operational processes and decision making. Another important element of visibility is call data tracking. A few important areas to track are call frequency, location and time, as well as workforce management data. Further, having this data in real-time can take decision making to the next level when time is of the essence like during new service roll outs.
- Scalability and Customization: Sometimes, even with the best data analytics, forecasting the future can be difficult. Having the flexibility to grow or shrink as needed is an important feature of cloud communications. In addition, cloud communications are not a one size fits all solution. By selecting a provider that offers customization of products and services, businesses will improve interactions with their customer base and cut down on costs by not paying for services they don’t use. Providers that offer scalable and customizable solutions will help companies stay nimble and more easily respond to market changes.
- Quality and Reliability: Carrier-grade call quality and quality of service are paramount. In addition, an important question to ask a cloud provider is what their protocol is in the event of an outage. Consider how they communicate with their customers and what solutions they offer to overcome the outage. Carriers with promising quality and network reliability will help businesses avoid the financial and reputational damages associated with network outages.
- Ease of Adoption: Onboarding new users and porting phone numbers are two common challenges that developers face when migrating to the cloud. It’s important that a provider offers simplified operations to ensure smooth adoption during the number porting process. A provider with reliable operations will have extensive experience with onboarding and automated porting, as well as with the call flow design, support, service and custom implementations processes.
Businesses are considering every aspect of their operations to determine how to gain an edge over their competition. One way they will accomplish this is by leveraging cloud-based telecom solutions and partnering with a cloud-based carrier. The BYOC telecom model is what many companies are looking for because it lets them access telecom solutions their customers want without the cost and management burden of traditional infrastructure. By opting for the BYOC model, businesses will design more customized solutions for their customers and take their operations to the next level. As they do, they will see a positive impact to their bottom line and customer loyalty.
About the Author
Darach Beirne is vice president of customer success at Flowroute, now part of Intrado. With more than 25 years of experience building and leading B2B customer success, Darach leads Flowroute’s dedicated customer support team, driving strategy for customer success and improved customer satisfaction. Prior to joining Flowroute, Darach lead professional service and sales engineering teams for providers such as Contenix, Huawei/3Leafsytems, InQuira, Siebel/Scopus and Ingres. He also has assisted high-tech companies develop strategies to improve the customer experience and increase scalability.
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