Over the years, departments and organizations across industries have transitioned away from traditional hardware IT systems and toward SaaS-based cloud offerings. Cloud adoption accelerated in 2020, and developers and IT teams are seeking telecom solutions that will afford them control over how they deploy new capabilities. To ensure new capabilities, IT teams are turning to cloud-based telecom providers that offer a greater level of control over telecom resources. IT teams are also looking for providers that deliver flexibility, which is integral in easily scaling solutions up or down based on customer usage and market demands.
As the transition to cloud-based communication services continues, companies will need to partner with their CSPs and carriers to determine which cloud telecom configuration best meets their operational needs and provides the communication services their customers rely on. Before severing ties with your legacy telco carrier, it’s important to research the different platforms on the market, as well as your configuration options for cloud-based communications. Below are three common configurations a company can choose from:
1. Cloud-hosted PBX: This is an IP-based PBX solution that’s provided and accessed completely through the internet. Instead of hosting software on a server the way digital systems do, cloud PBX hosts all software and data in the cloud. The solution 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).
2. Purpose-built software: In this set-up, the solution is pre-integrated into a workflow and communication becomes an embedded capability within a critical and valuable software solution.
3. BYOC (Be Your Own Carrier): The BYOC configuration leverages Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS) and allows developers to build and customize communications within their applications using APIs. This helps developers avoid the complexity involved with operating network infrastructure while still maintaining control over their customer experience. This configuration is especially relevant and valuable for companies that are familiar with API deployment and want to have direct control over their telecom resources through API integrations.
Each business’ individual circumstances will determine which of these options is the best fit for them. In a year where companies are evaluating their IT investments to cut costs, the BYOC model can be more appealing because users can take full control of telecom design and deployment, powered by a software-centric carrier, and eliminate the need to manage complex network infrastructure. Further, if customers value in-app messaging and contextual customer service, developers can create that experience. The BYOC telecom model has gone from buzzword to full-fledged solution that’s changing the way businesses structure and utilize telephony.
Another version of BYOC is, “Bring-your-own carrier.” Through this model, businesses have the flexibility to bring or select their own carrier to their communications platform of choice rather than being forced into a single carrier or 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 applications, contact center, existing phone numbers, etc.). When a company opts to bring their own carrier, they are choosing the best carrier that can help deliver the best telecom services for their customers. The Bring Your Own Carrier model is like the Be Your Own Carrier. However, the Bring Your Own Carrier model is better suited for companies that do not want to oversee API integrations. Companies opting for this model often prefer a traditional hands-off approach to IT and telecom while still taking advantage of the flexibility and agility of the cloud.
The BYOC model is helping businesses gain greater transparency and control over telecom resources during a time when consistent visibility is vital. The number of companies adopting this model into their communication strategies will continue to increase with the evolution of the cloud telecom market and cutting edge benefits it affords.
Selecting a BYOC provider
While it may seem that a shift to the BYOC model would hurt telecom providers, industry experts expect it will open new revenue streams and channels to market existing services. And given the strict and complex FCC regulations, there will continue to be an important role for telecom companies to manage the direct connection to the telephone network and bear this regulatory burden – something that most companies are not equipped to handle.
The success of any BYOC venture will largely depend on the carrier. Like any IT purchase decision, decision makers must research their options and understand what capabilities and tools their business needs to better provide for their customers and position themselves for success in the future.
Outlined below are five criteria for IT decision makers to consider when choosing a software-centric carrier to power their BYOC endeavors.
1. Quality of Service: Arguably the top criteria a provider should meet is quality of service. Customers expect instantaneous, seamless and flawless voice and messaging services from the start. Anything less can negatively affect the company’s reputation, productivity and customer loyalty.
2. Broad Capabilities: A provider that can easily integrate and add new features to the product offering should be a leader in the selection process. Look for a carrier with a strong foundation of auto-attendants, call reporting, call management and voicemail features. These features help partners maintain competitive advantage and provide added benefits to their customers. In addition, high-value features include enhanced voice, messaging, video development and application exchange in cloud communications, and SMS, MMS and call recording and transcription.
3. Visibility and Insight: Cloud-based communications platforms can provide immense amounts of data that can positively impact operational processes and decision making. Consider if the carrier enables IT teams to track call data. 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 is also important for making decisions on an as needed basis as well as during service roll outs.
4. Uncapped Channel Capacity: Unlimited channel capacity can ensure that callers won’t experience blocked calls due to channel limits and that the company won’t be overspending on unused capacity. Ensure the carrier can quickly provide telecom resources (i.e., phone numbers and network coverage) when expansion is needed.
5. 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 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.
Leveraging cloud telecom solutions and partnering with a cloud-based carrier is becoming a necessary component of maintaining a competitive edge and delivering on customer demands. The BYOC telecom model lets businesses access the telecom solutions their customers want without the burden of managing infrastructure. As businesses reap the benefits associated with BYOC and have closer control of telecom, they will be able to design better solutions for their customers and invest in IT in other areas of the business.
Darach Beirne, vice president of customer success, Flowroute, part of Intrado