Review your tech stack to save on IT spending as your comms platform grows
Do you regularly review the returns your business receives from each of the tools in your tech stack?
You would expect your customers to periodically question whether your communications platform still provides the value they need. So you too should always think about the effectiveness of the components on which it is built.
But here’s the challenge. If you’re currently starting out or scaling up, you probably don’t have a formalized process in place.
When you’re putting all your efforts into making your business viable, this is probably not top of mind.
For companies at this stage of their journey, the risk is that you rapidly onboard new tools as you ambitiously scale your product, but are so focused on internal development that you only really think about the tools you’re using when it comes time for a contract renewal.
But now so more than ever, for you to build a best-in-class solution platform will require ongoing harmony and interoperability between numerous tools and platforms.
And as these different components mutate and merge over time, there’s a real risk you can end up with overlapping functions and inefficiencies.
So try to keep a clear view of the benefits each provider delivers in the long term, then be sure to take stock at regular intervals, preferably in a quantifiable manner, of the extent to which they’re delivering.
Understand how your needs change as you grow
The other thing to keep in mind is that your organizational needs will change as you scale your business – and a tool that was appropriate when you had 5 employees might no longer pass muster when you have 50 or 500 or even 5,000.
An obvious example of this might be the communications platform on which your own solution is built.
Many startup communications plays will begin by leveraging the power of a CPaaS platform to ensure they can quickly and easily scale their platform functionality using development resources with no need to submerge themselves into the world of telecommunications.
Often when you start out, jack-of-all-trade tools are great because of the amount of functionality they offer at a reasonable price point. In other words, they give you a good bang for your buck initially.
But by the time you’ve reached a point where you have customers in numerous territories, you’ll start bumping up against the limits of the value that a CPaaS offers because of the prohibitive cost of the voice coverage that comes bundled with these platforms.
At this point, it can become VERY expensive to run communications into your platform from multiple territories. So what do you do? You have two choices, reflecting two different ways to tackle the same problem:
- Build it: You can either leverage your internal expertise and development to build your own voice network. This will give you ultimate control but can be very expensive and takes time. It’s much more protracted than registering as a notified operator in a given country and then sourcing telephony service from another provider. You’ll often need to build relationships with Tier 1 carriers directly and have a physical presence, including an office and network infrastructure, in a country. This can take years.
- Break it: A much more rapid solution is to break apart the CPaaS bundle and treat each layer individually. In effect, this allows you to work with best-in-class providers at that platform, logic, and network layers. By using a SIP trunking provider of your own choosing for your underlying telephony instead of relying on the coverage that comes bundled with your CPaaS you can unlock numerous cost, quality, and scalability benefits that we’ll look at more closely below.
CPaaS – A great first bite of the cloud communications apple…
CPaaS is a great introduction to the benefits of the cloud. Many organizations have used CPaaS to rapidly launch their communications in the cloud, and many others continue to do so.
The biggest benefit of CPaaS is that it lets you unlock the full power of your existing development resources, to quickly build out communications solutions tailored specifically to the needs of your business. At a platform layer, CPaaSs are typically packed full of features and functionality to help you create programmatic communications.
In addition, they bring to the table all the benefits of the cloud – from OpEx-based as-a-Service subscription models that remove the need for large capital investment in physical infrastructure, to real-time service provisioning, self-service management, and rapid lead-in times.
… But less tasty as your business grows
So what’s the problem then? CPaaS sounds great. It is, don’t get me wrong. But because of the complexity of these products, some of the key components on which a CPaaS is built will necessarily have been provided externally.
For the purposes of this illustration, I’m talking about the underlying telephony infrastructure on which these platforms sit. I’m talking about coverage. CPaaS providers are experts in platform building and servicing their customers with advanced functionality, they’re not telco operators.
This means they haven’t gone out to each country where they offer service, worked with local regulators to establish themselves as a licensed national operator, and acquired their own number ranges. That would be too huge of an undertaking in an area away from their core business.
The end result is that their coverage is aggregated across a number of different providers. And while that may sound fine in principle, it’s where the ‘Jack of all ‘Trades’ approach can begin to run into problems, especially as you scale.
Why? Because as you enter new markets, you’ll quickly learn that this sort of aggregated voice coverage can lead to rapidly rising costs for your inbound and outbound voice minutes. Aggregating supply leads to margin stacking and this means it will nearly always be cheaper to get your coverage from a dedicated SIP trunk provider.
In addition, the aggregation model means less accountability and transparency for you when something goes wrong with your comms. You may have an SLA with your CPaaS, but they’ll in turn have one with each of their providers. And if there are further providers in the chain, each one will compound the amount of waiting time before your issue is resolved.
The other problem is that the more network hops your calls have to make between points A and B, the more issues around latency and jitter you’re likely to experience. In effect, the quality of your calls will drop.
What’s the solution?
This has hopefully outlined just some of the ways that a CPaaS is a great ‘Jack of all Trades’ when you’re starting out with cloud communications. But also how, as you scale your usage and your international footprint, it can soon become a ‘Master of None’.
That’s not entirely true though, because a good CPaaS will be a master of the platform layer, providing the actual tools and APIs and logic to build your custom comms stack. It’s just not a specialist in the underlying infrastructure layer.
But this serves to emphasize just why it’s so important to regularly review your tech stack in light of your changing business goals and needs as you grow.
So how do you get the best of both worlds? All the CpaaS platform features and tools that your teams know and love and that have helped you get this far, not to mention taking up a significant amount of investment in terms of dev resources into the code that you’re loath to throw away. Plus best-in-class telephony infrastructure in the countries where you need it?
It’s actually fairly simple. You just need to integrate your carrier or carriers of choice with your CPaaS, so that you can use phone numbers from the voice networks that you know and trust within your existing communications platform instead of the default telephony that’s bundled as standard. This is something that’s known as Bring Your Own Carrier.
The benefits of doing this are legion, but here are some of the headlines:
- The cost of your numbers and calls will be cheaper because you’re cutting out margin stacking and middle-man operators
- The reach of your CPaaS will be extended to anywhere your preferred carrier has coverage
- Quality will be improved because you’re working with providers you trust, which ultimately means a better, more reliable service and improved CX for your customers
- Support will be quicker because you can go straight to the source when there’s an issue
- You’ll unlock efficiency savings and get more ROI out of your existing CPaaS features and developer tools