CPaaS: How to compose collaboration and communication services at scale

“Think of CPaaS as a communications toolbox that connects things, people and devices, whether it be digital, social, voice, etc, and then ask: how could I use this toolbox?” – Brett Butler, Managing Director – Southern Africa, Avaya

Johannesburg, 03 Jun 2021
Read time 4min 10sec
Brett Butler, Managing Director of Southern Africa, Avaya.
Brett Butler, Managing Director of Southern Africa, Avaya.

Change, being agile and the ability to hyper-personalise have become critical for organisations looking to scale their communications services. CPaaS, or communications platform as a service, is what’s driving this industry forward at a rapid pace; according to Juniper Research, the total value of the CPaaS market will hit $25 billion by 2025.

“It’s a platform that delivers communications capabilities in a small block format that you can plug in to anything,” explains Savio Tovar Dias, the senior director for sales engineering at Avaya International. “CPaaS is important because it gives companies the agility to compose customised collaboration and communication services and change them as fast as they need to.”

While unified communications as a service (UCaaS) and call centre as a service (CCaaS) deliver against specific use cases, such as employee productivity or customer service environments, CPaaS helps interlock UCaaS and CCaaS together.

“When you start infusing UCaaS with CPaaS functionality, you’ll start getting what the industry is referring to as work stream collaboration. Instead of switching between multiple applications, everything can be infused within a single collaboration experience,” adds Brett Butler, Avaya Southern Africa’s managing director.

CPaaS is an over-the-top communications platform that allows companies to deliver connectivity between applications, people and objects. CPaaS is flexible, whereas UCaaS and CCaaS is more of a feature set. Because CPaaS is predominantly cloud-based, organisations with legacy on-premises contact centres or communications capabilities will find it easier to adapt.

“If we look at how organisations have had to adapt to the pandemic, with social distancing and other regulations, they’ve had to reinvent supply chains. Organisations have had to change existing business processes to adapt to remote working or give users access to the right tools and CPaaS has helped with that,” says Butler.

“You can use CPaaS for everything – people to people and people to objects,” adds Dias. “People start to dabble with CPaaS and then the permutations of use cases grow – companies are using the basic building blocks to compose really elegant solutions and to quickly change their processes and automate their workflows.”

Savio Tovar Dias, Senior Director, Sales Engineering, Avaya International.
Savio Tovar Dias, Senior Director, Sales Engineering, Avaya International.

With the coronavirus pandemic, many healthcare apps have some kind of CPaaS communication and productivity running in the background. With remote consultations, for example, appointments may be managed using UCaaS. This can be integrated with CPaaS for appointment scheduling, reminders, follow-ups, pushing scripts to patients – it’s about enabling effective communications for both the doctor and the patient.

“CPaaS can work stream-enable that whole collaboration experience where UCaaS was just the collaboration platform, that face-to-face consultation. Infusing it with CPaaS and with AI brings automation and we can do a lot more with a lot less,” explains Butler.

South Africa is still in the early days of widespread CPaaS adoption. According to Butler, most of the CPaaS services that we see locally are digital, not voice services, and this has to do with the maturity and availability of cloud services.

“Anyone looking to adopt CPaaS really needs to understand what use cases they have. Think of CPaaS as a communications toolbox that connects things, people and devices, whether it be digital, social, voice, etc, and then ask: how could I use this toolbox? It's got to be use case-driven and specific for that vertical,” advises Butler.

The CPaaS business model is based on consumption – you pay for what you use. This makes CPaaS easier to consume, financially, instead of putting up infrastructure or services costs. And from a design perspective, CPaaS also offers a low-code environment with drag-and-drop UI so there’s no need for coders to take advantage of its hi-tech capabilities.

“It also gives you the flexibility based on your business. The back-end elements of CPaaS let you integrate things like AI and other next-gen technologies that are coming up far more seamlessly because of the API toolkit that is embedded,” explains Dias.

Leveraging the API economy is a key part of CPaaS, especially for businesses looking to take advantage of some of the newer technologies and innovations coming out, many of which are cloud-based.

“It just becomes a lot easier for organisations to start deploying,” adds Butler. “CPaaS doesn’t have a specific vertical – a lot of small businesses use CPaaS because of the value it offers. They can take advantage of the digital capabilities of CPaaS with very little effort and very little risk. Today, organisations are looking to provide people with the relevant information at the right time and CPaaS allows you to do that.”