The pandemic was a reality check for organizations across every industry. The virus not only contained health risks, it also propelled the need for fast and furious digital transformation to sustain operations and engage with customers. Even organizations with a strong digital presence scrambled to migrate to virtual environments, with 20% of enterprises turning to agile apps, including the use of cloud-based Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) to help them stay in business through shutdowns and restricted activity.\nWith digital strategies clearly demonstrating ROI and enabling some to leapfrog ahead of less nimble competitors, it\u2019s no surprise that Gartner predicts that 90% of organizations will turn to CPaaS by 2023.\nHow Does CPaaS Help? \u00a0At its core, CPaaS is a development framework to build real-time communications (RTC) features without having to construct time-consuming, complex backend infrastructure and interfaces. CPaaS enables modular communication functions with cloud-based APIs that can be used to embed channels and capabilities into business applications like messaging, voice, and video. And with these capabilities, organizations of any size can create multi-experience models for customers and employees that improve communications and business outcomes. In other words, they bring their digital apps and channels together to deliver a consistent, seamless, immersive experience across devices and modalities\u2014whether at work or mobile, via talk, chat, or video.\nYet, there\u2019s more to the CPaaS story\u2014particularly in the context of the challenges of the past year. The flexibility of CPaaS reduces the need for \u201cone-size-fits-all\u201d applications. Customized applications that once required the efforts of specialized developers and engineers can now be created and deployed across the enterprise in a matter of days and weeks, instead of months or years\u2014and without disruption.\nUnquestionably, COVID-19 shined a bright light on the need for agility and adaptability. Many organizations with inflexible applications struggled to respond as quickly as necessary to unexpected changes and demands. In contrast, those leveraging CPaaS have been able to deliver modular, composable experiences that meet evolving customer and operational needs. As business changes continue at an accelerated pace, the need for an application architecture designed for change will continue to grow.\nUnlocking New Customer Experience Opportunities\nWhen it comes to the realm of contact centers and customer experience, CPaaS is now taking the cloud-based contact center to an entirely new level with the power and potential of an API-based model that enables the composable enterprise. While companies have been able to experiment and innovate delivery of service with CCaaS solutions, CPaaS now promises to meet even far-reaching ambitions that support touchpoints, modalities, and personas for both customer and employee journeys. And that can be composed in minutes with modular features and capabilities.\nBut what does this mean specifically for the future of customer experience? Let\u2019s just say that the CPaaS-driven customer service revolution has begun.\nWith contactless service and digital engagement becoming mainstays in 2020, consumers have grown increasingly comfortable using digital channels to obtain the products and services they need. In fact, 75% of people using digital channels for the first time indicate they will continue to use them when things return to \u201cnormal\u201d according to research from McKinsey.\nCPaaS capabilities, when layered on a CCaaS solution, enable organizations to build an infinite number of applications that drive personalized, contextual experiences across SMS, MMS, voice, messaging, and digital channels\u2014and at a fraction of their typical cost and complexity.\nConsumers have also grown accustomed to self-service, virtual engagement, particularly in industries like banking, travel, and healthcare. Using CPaaS, virtual agents with AI capabilities can offer human-like, automated support that speeds responsiveness\u2014even when systems are overloaded. CPaaS can also be leveraged for a wide range of automated, outbound use cases, including notifications, appointment reminders, two-factor authentication, and status updates. Organizations can create notifications that keep customers informed and provide call backs to eliminate long phone waits.\nCPaaS has been instrumental in helping governmental agencies, healthcare providers, and many others overcome many COVID-related challenges. From virus testing and vaccination scheduling to filing unemployment claims and loan applications, CPaaS has supported the widespread shift of business models to meet urgent needs and unplanned spikes in volume.\nIn one great success story, Harris County Public Health leveraged Avaya OneCloud\u2122 CPaaS to create a verified, HIPAA-compliant, cloud-based notification solution as part of its case investigation and contact tracing program. The solution increased the department\u2019s ability to successfully investigate COVID-19 cases by 25%, helping save lives because citizens were contacted and quarantined faster. Using the platform, the department also applied automation and AI to patient and contact identification and communications\u2014for a tremendously beneficial impact on Harris County\u2019s COVID-19 containment levels.\nAs another example, the Avaya Spaces collaboration app is built on our Avaya OneCloud CPaaS solution. It can be easily integrated within a contact center environment to deliver a seamless and optimized customer experience, as support can easily shift from chat to voice to video with a simple click. A simple way to speed time to better outcomes, as our CPaaS becomes a \u201cforce multiplier\u201d for contact center capabilities.\nEmployee EfficiencyBecause CPaaS enables organizations to easily embed new services and solutions into their existing processes using APIs, it also can enhance day-to-day operations. Collaboration APIs, knowledge management systems, and even gamified workforce engagement management tools can be blended to help distributed teams work together more efficiently and become more engaged.\nCompany-wide alerts can also be sent through employees\u2019 preferred channels. Follow-up and office notifications can be automated, and employees can even access self-service human resources functions with a simple chatbot answering common questions like: \u201cHow do I request vacation?\u201d Or \u201cWhen is payday?\u201d\u00a0\u00a0 \u00a0\nIT BenefitsFor IT organizations, ease of integration is the fundamental benefit of CPaaS. Any communication feature can be easily integrated without altering the back-end infrastructure of the application. Developers can add and customize features according to expectations, opening up countless opportunities for innovation. Implementation is fast. And with no process of validation required, IT is freed to focus on higher-level tasks, like cybersecurity and asset allocation.\nTake the First Step with CPaaS\nWith the far-reaching capabilities and benefits of CPaaS, the biggest challenge may be identifying where to start. The logical first step is to consider how your customers want to engage and then build out those experiences. Customer feedback will help guide the way, determining how your teams can deliver the experiences customers want. From there, cross-department collaboration can take place to develop goals, define strategies, and implement new services.\nOnward and UpwardThere\u2019s little doubt that 2020 was a year for lessons learned, and the pandemic provided a strong reality check for organizations that had been slow to embrace digital transformation. Those that have been able to successfully adapt to recent challenges haven\u2019t just weathered the storm, they\u2019re coming out stronger than ever. And CPaaS is likely to be part of their strategy going forward and their long-term success. \u00a0\nYou owe it to your customers and teams to become part of the 90% of organizations who use CPaaS to drive improved experiences in the coming years. Take the next step in your digital innovation with an all-in-one approach to address your unique business challenges and deliver your best experience. Learn more about Avaya OneCloud CPaaS on www.avaya.com.