Have You Written a Comms App Yet?

Communications platform as a service (CPaaS) will be a hot topic at Enterprise Connect 2018, coming next week. (There's still time to be there. Click here to take $500 off the price.)

Every EC18 keynote speaker represents a company that offers a developer program to use its cloud-based communications platform. Cisco will likely emphasize Spark, for team collaboration, with Spark Boards and Spark Rooms; Spark has APIs, for sure, and Cisco also offers its Tropo platform. Microsoft will likely emphasize Microsoft Teams in Office 365, which has options for cloud-based communications developers, and also offers the Azure environment. Amazon Web Services, Workplace by Facebook, and Slack will likely lead with their respective collaboration or contact center products, but each sees its offering as a developer platform, including communications capabilities.

The Industry Visionary Addresses will likely have a CPaaS sub-theme, as well. Vonage Business, with its Nexmo business unit, is an industry-leading CPaaS provider. 8x8, Google, and RingCentral have API-rich environments. Avaya and Mitel may still represent the IP-PBX approach, whether on-premises or as a managed service in the cloud, yet both likely will emphasize the openness of versions of their IP-PBX software as a communications platform (see my No Jitter post, "Which CPaaS Do You Use Now?" on this topic).

The APIs and & Embedded Communications track will highlight the CPaaS theme, with both analytical presentations and customer testimonials. Speech tools are very much part of the CPaaS ecosystem, too, as we're sure to see in the new Speech Technologies track and the speech tech-focused Innovation Showcase.

By the way, you might notice that CPaaS isn't very different from the wave of applications for IVR and auto-attendants a few decades back. We in telecom have credibility in CPaaS, if we will use it. The media have changed from voice PSTN to diverse Internet protocols, but the methodology is still similar: Find annoying, delaying, or costly steps to be transformed.

OK, all that is well and good, but what should you be doing about it in your enterprise?

First, get your feet wet. There's essentially no cost to get started. You can sign up with one or more of the CPaaS providers, get an account, and start learning. Sure, if you want to make and receive phone calls or send and receive SMS messages, you'll need a CPaaS phone number, but those can be had for $1 to $5 per month. You must have room in your department budget for that! If you don't have access to a website or other platform for your apps, then try out the CPaaS sandbox service -- most have one available at no charge.

Then, use the tutorials, sample apps, and other aids. With a small investment of time, you'll begin to see what's possible. Maybe you won't personally end up writing the CPaaS calls or apps for your organization, but you'll know more about how to recruit qualified talent to help you.

Hey, that's not much different than how we got started with IVR.

Continue to Page 2 for next steps