Yesterday, Ericsson announced their intent to acquire cloud communications provider Vonage for more than 6 billion dollars, in order “to spearhead the creation of a global network and communication platform for open innovation”. With just a few more weeks to go to the end of the year, this is the biggest (mostly) CPaaS acquisition of the year and promises to take CPaaS enablement mainstream.
The Ericsson announcement explains: “Vonage gives us a platform to help our customers monetize the investments in the network, benefitting developers and businesses. Imagine putting the power and capabilities of 5G, the biggest global innovation platform, at the fingertips of developers.” Following the recent acquisition of CPaaS enabler Telestax by Mavenir, here we see another telco focused tech provider going big for programmability and customer engagement. Analyst consensus so far is that this is less about 5G or networks than about APIs, programmability and getting access to enterprise developers.
A CPaaS trends webinar by analyst Juniper recently explained the CPaaS (Communication Platforms as a Service) market globally continues to grow fast and expand into multi-media. According to Juniper, CPaaS is becoming the center of all enterprise communications, connecting to contact centers (CCaaS), conversational AI, commerce etc. More and more becoming a platform, on which enterprise applications are built.
Powering this modern CPaaS platform is the CDP (Customer Data Platform), where information about customers is gathered from all sorts of channels and sources, turning data into actionable insights. At this year’s Signal conference, Twilio also announced their focus on (or pivot to, according to some) Customer Engagement Platforms to power all customer communications in a smart manner. And Dutch conversational commerce leader CM.com is making serious business out of conversational ticket sales, with their recent Dutch Grand Prix activities as a great showcase of frictionless online commerce.
In the meantime, the bulk of CPaaS is still basic programmable telecom functionality like appointment reminders (logistics), 2FA (authentication), number masking (privacy) and voice-response (IVR). Omni channel (incl socials) is becoming more important, and AI is starting to play a role in routing or transcripting/translation, but for many use cases the basic functionality can easily be provided by local, trusted, telcos or CSPs.
At Signal, Twilio announced they would deploy more regional services, for example focusing on data sovereignty (GDPR) in Europe, as a way to compete with local players. For many verticals, like healthcare, government and travel/logistics, trust and existing relations look to be more important for now than the most advanced fancy features.
It will be interesting to see if carriers, mobile operators and other local CSPs will (further) rise to the CPaaS occasion and work with enablers like Mavenir or (soon) Ericsson to provide programmable telecom solutions to their enterprise customers. For a long time, carriers were slow (or sleeping) followers, but we can expect both Ericsson and Mavenir to double down on telco enablement in order to engage these channels, competing with over the top players like Twilio, Infobip and, since this year, Microsoft.