Michelle Burbick
Michelle Burbick is the Associate Editor and a blogger for No Jitter, UBM Tech's online community for news and analysis...
Read Full Bio >>

Michelle Burbick | May 24, 2017 |


Twilio Takes Comms APIs to Next Level

Twilio Takes Comms APIs to Next Level Introduces "declarative APIs," positions itself to solve more end-user problems.

Introduces "declarative APIs," positions itself to solve more end-user problems.

Twilio kicks off its Signal conference for developers today, looking to draw "the best and brightest" to San Francisco for two days of geeking out over "the future of communications technology."

Ask any "Twilion" what the future of communications is, and you'll surely hear about APIs and the concept that these bits of code provide enterprises with the keys to own and control their own communications roadmaps. That's no secret -- Twilio is well-known by now for what it has come to call "imperative APIs," such as its Programmable Voice or Programmable SMS products.

But now Twilio is entering its next phase, that of "declarative APIs," as Patrick Malatack, GM of messaging and VP of product at Twilio, told me in a recent pre-briefing on the news coming out of the event. Declarative APIs, he explained, enable enterprise developers to define relationships (i.e. contact center agent to customer, driver to passenger, etc.) and hand over the reins to Twilio to handle the logic necessary for building and managing multichannel communications for those different relationships.

"One of the big things we've been hearing is [customers] love the power and flexibility of building with APIs, but want us to solve more end-user problems," Malatack said. "In terms of the customer experience, they want us to do more of the heavy lifting around common patterns. This next wave of APIs is really around figuring out what business processes customers are trying to [address]."

To that end, Twilio announced several new offerings today, under the umbrella of the Twilio Engagement Cloud, which is a collection of APIs that provide businesses with the necessary logic for building multichannel communications with customers. This collection includes Twilio Proxy, an API aimed at powering private text and voice interactions between customers and mobile workers.

Think of Proxy in terms of a business model, such as at Uber or Airbnb, that uses communications as the bridge between two defined types of individuals, such as a passenger with a driver or a guest with a host. These kinds of communications have required considerable software development to ensure the high levels of privacy needed on both sides of the interaction. "Proxy allows you to define those relationships with Twilio, and then Twilio manages interaction routing thereafter," Malatack said.

Specifically, Proxy capabilities include:

  • Multichannel masked communications -- enables developers to define a relationship in a conversation for Twilio to take over for routing and logging. Proxy supports two-way communications over voice, SMS, and messaging services like Facebook Messenger, Slack, and Atlassian HipChat.

  • Phone number management -- handles communication logic and sets up intermediate phone numbers for text and voice conversations, keeping personal phone numbers and user IDs private. Proxy takes geographic considerations and individual number capabilities in account when automatically selecting the most appropriate phone numbers for a given interaction.

  • Content moderation -- lets developers configure rules for filtering and redacting messages to prohibit the sharing of sensitive information. Developers can even set specifications to filter out profanity, for example.

  • Time-bounded sessions -- provides the ability to manage mobile communications and set lengths of time that a customer can contact a mobile worker. An example of a use case for this would be the ability to shift communications from one mobile worker to another based on shift schedules or personnel changes.

In addition to Proxy, the Twilio Engagement Cloud also includes Notify, an API for orchestrating automated notifications across messaging channels, announced last year at Signal; TaskRouter, a skills-based routing API for contact centers; and Two-factor Authentication, an API for securing accounts.

This next phase of APIs is "really about Twilio solving more and more of the things that get in the way of you building the right customer experience," Malatack said. "We're allowing [developers] to offload a lot of the work and complexity of building with Twilio and still gain the flexibility."

All of these declarative APIs are built directly on top of imperative APIs, he added. "It's about getting to production scale as fast as possible."

For more perspective on Twilio and communications APIs, check out the latest No Jitter On Air podcast, featuring Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice. Winther gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks to address maturing enterprise needs.

Follow Michelle Burbick and No Jitter on Twitter!


October 24, 2018

With disparate workplaces and ever-expanding volumes of information to manage, the challenges for collaborating effectively are only intensifying. Many critical applications are not integrated, and

October 10, 2018

Businesses are growing across international borders quicker than ever, but scaling operations to follow suit can be a harder, longer process.

This webinar focuses on scaling your next-generat

September 26, 2018

Join Kevin Kieller, Microsoft UC&C expert, along with Ribbon Communications and Polycom, for an update on Microsoft Ignite, and a focus on critical things you need to know about your voice deployme

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.