2017 Will Be Year of the Cloud-Based Communications Provider
Traditional telecom carriers simply can't deliver the instantaneous, seamless communication expected by consumers today.
The world was a very different place in 2006.
Ten years ago, research firms like eMarketer were just beginning to forecast the IP telephony market, noting that cable providers and telecom companies would be going head to head "in the battle for residential and business VoIP subscribers" and predicting a "substantial migration" to VoIP services in the U.S.
This 2006 prediction wasn't wrong, but it didn't take into account the emergence of an entirely new class of cloud-based communications provider, one that isn't dependent upon legacy infrastructure.
Consumers today expect instantaneous, seamless communication with the brands they love. Traditional telecom carriers are often unable to support this innovation because they're bogged down by legacy networks, outdated regulatory controls, and sheer organizational girth.
By comparison, today's cloud-based communication providers can enable businesses to deploy, provision, and manage voice and messaging services directly through the network. These types of providers are disruptive because they aren't tied to a physical infrastructure -- everything operates via software and the cloud, making the deployment and provisioning of communication services simpler, faster, and less expensive.
In its 2016 Cloud Communications Survey, No Jitter Research found that "enterprises are drawn to cloud communications services for many different reasons. Chief among them... total cost of ownership compared to on-premises solutions (24%), and the agility to add features, functions, and/or users quickly in response to business needs (19%)."
As a result, there's been a dramatic transformation in how businesses access and utilize voice, messaging, and other telecommunications services to engage with their customers -- for example, think of texting a driver with a car sharing service or engaging with a customer support agent by way of phone, video, or SMS to resolve issues. Communications platform as a service (CPaaS) allows businesses to use communications services in innovative new ways to improve the customer experience, add functionality to existing products and services, and increase profits.
What does this mean for 2017? Here are several trends to expect in the year ahead as companies increasingly turn to IP communications services to reach new audiences:
- "Infrastructure-less" Communication Providers Will Drive Innovation
We predict 2017 will be the year of the cloud-based IP communications provider, with a business model based on delivering open access to telecom resources such as phone numbers, inbound and outbound calling, text messaging, and advanced signaling data. As developers continue to integrate communications services into their applications, the need for "infrastructure-less" carriers that support voice and messaging services over a high-speed Internet connection will become critical. Traditional legacy network carriers -- like those that provide wired Internet connectivity -- are unable to provide developers with direct access and control of telephony resources.
- Enterprises Take Call Centers to the Cloud with Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)
Despite the rise of chat bots and social media customer service, the traditional call center ranks among the most widely used methods for customers voicing complaints. However, as businesses continue to integrate communications tools and implement IP telephony, customer service agents are no longer in one set location. Further, according to the 2016 No Jitter cloud communications survey, 22% of enterprise respondents said their organizations rely on cloud-hosted ACD/call center/contact center capabilities, while 10% are set to add those capabilities in the next 12 months. In order to modernize and continuously improve the customer experience in 2017, we will see broad adoption of the CCaaS model, which will provide businesses with control, flexibility, and the opportunity to improve customer engagement and the overall customer experience.
- Toll-Free and Nationwide Phone Numbers Will Provide Valuable Insight to Enterprises
We predict that in 2017 the importance of phone numbers will go far beyond just making voice calls. Phone numbers can provide identity information about a caller or an event -- allowing businesses to create new value-added customer services. For example, by buying and assigning different phone numbers for each of their television, radio, and direct mail ads or campaigns, marketers can measure concrete results from each medium and better understand the customer's path to purchase.
- Locking Down Phone Numbers Will Become Essential
As phone numbers begin to play an increasingly strategic role in the enterprise -- spanning marketing and operations, for example -- companies must ensure that both business and customer data behind those numbers remains secure. In 2017, we predict that phone numbers will mandate additional security measures -- essentially requiring them to be locked down much like a VPN token, in order to eliminate the ability to spoof phone numbers and steal confidential identity-related information.
It will be interesting to see how these predictions unfold next year, and over the next 10 years for that matter!