Departments and organizations of all sizes and across all industries are transitioning away from traditional hardware IT systems and embracing SaaS-based cloud offerings. The global pandemic has spurred greater cloud adoption, prompting developers and IT teams to seek telecom solutions that grant them control over their communications. Further, IT teams are exploring ways to gain autonomy and flexibility over how they deploy communications solutions, which are integral tools in easily scaling solutions up or down based on customer usage and market demands.
In order to gain a greater level of control over telecom resources and ensure deployment of relevant communications capabilities, companies will need to partner with their communication service providers (CSPs) and carriers. These groups will need to work together to determine which cloud telecom configuration best meets the company’s operational needs, as well as the needs of its customers. It’s important that companies research the different telecom providers on the market, as well as the configuration options available for cloud-based communications.
Outlined below are three common telecom configurations companies can consider as they evaluate which structure and services will best meet their needs. Each configuration offers unique benefits to users. Ultimately, it is up to each business to determine which of these options is the best fit for them, based on their individual circumstances.
Configuration #1: Cloud-hosted PBX
Cloud-hosted PBX (Private Branch Exchange) is built entirely in a cloud-based environment to provide servers access via an internet connection. As a result, companies that use cloud or hosted PBX systems don’t have to have a dedicated server to utilize internet-based telephony in their offices. Hosted PBX is an excellent way for companies to save money because it eliminates the need for on-site IT infrastructure. Further, cloud PBX offers the least amount of disruption to an organization while providing the same capabilities customers are familiar with (i.e. making and receiving calls on a traditional handset or multi-party conference calling from a device).
Configuration #2: Purpose-built software
Common in channel and/or vertical settings, purpose-built software are pre-integrated into a workflow. In this deployment, communication becomes an embedded capability within a critical and valuable software solution. Purpose-built software creates innovative and unique applications that are constructed to meet customers’ exact requirements. This configuration is used often for specific industry communication needs, such as a dentist office scheduling appointments or a restaurant booking reservations.
Configuration #3: 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. The BYOC model is particularly appealing in the current economic climate because users can take control of telecom design and deployment, powered by a software-centric carrier, and eliminate the need to manage complex network infrastructure.
Being your own carrier is relevant for companies that are familiar with API deployment and want to leverage API integrations in their telecom resources. For example, if customers indicate that they prefer texting over calling when communicating with a business, the business can leverage a messaging API to implement texting or messaging capabilities into their mobile app or contact center. In addition, if the company is growing internationally and adding new locations, APIs can help quickly disperse local phone numbers and cloud-based support hubs. The same is true of the reverse if a business needs to downsize.
Similar to BYOC, businesses and IT teams are adopting a “bring” vs. “be-your-own carrier” approach. “Bring-your-own carrier” means businesses can loop their preferred carrier into their communications platform of choice rather than being required to work with a specific carrier or in a bundled approach. For example, if a company has been working with a specific carrier for years and is happy with its services, they can keep that service provider and plug their preferred carrier into existing platforms (i.e. collaboration or video chat applications, new services or capabilities for contact centers, existing phone numbers, etc.).
When a company opts to bring their own carrier, they are choosing the best carrier for their customers. The Bring Your Own Carrier model is similar to Be Your Own Carrier; however, not all companies want to oversee API integrations, which Be Your Own Carrier facilitates through enhanced control over IT and telecom. For those wanting a somewhat traditional hands-off approach with the flexibility and agility of the cloud, the Bring Your Own Carrier model could be the best option.
How to Choose a BYOC Provider
If a business has determined that they’d like to implement a BYOC telecom configuration, the next step is to deepen their understanding of what capabilities and tools their business needs in order to better provide for their customers. Once they’ve identified their customers’ communication preferences, the business can then research carriers that can deliver the desired tools and position themselves for success in the future.
Highlighted below are five criteria for IT decision makers to consider when choosing a communications provider to power their BYOC configuration.
- Relevant Capabilities: Look for a carrier 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 customers. Other high-value features are enhanced voice, messaging, video development, SMS, MMS and call recording and transcription.
- Reliable Service: Top of mind for businesses should be the quality of the carrier’s service. Customers expect instantaneous, seamless and reliable voice and messaging services. Anything less can negatively affect the company’s reputation, productivity and customer loyalty.
- Ease of Adoption: Onboarding new users and porting phone numbers are two common challenges that developers face when migrating their telecom resources to the cloud. It’s important that a provider offers simplified operations to ensure smooth adoption during the porting process.
- Data Tracking: It’s valuable to be able to track call frequency, location and length, as well as collect and access workforce management data in real time. With access to immense amounts of customer data, businesses can improve the process by which they communicate with customers, plan for future service roll outs and make better business decisions.
- 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 a critical feature of cloud communications. Further, 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.
Relying on cloud telecom solutions and partnering with a cloud-based carrier has become a necessary component of maintaining operations during a global pandemic. As businesses continue to recalibrate and plan for the future, they’ll take stock of the new technologies they implemented in the early days of the pandemic and seek opportunities to maximize the investment.
The BYOC telecom model will prove to be what many companies are looking for to gain a competitive advantage 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 increased customer loyalty and satisfaction.
By Darach Beirne
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.