Overcoming Multichannel Complexity with Communication Platform as-a-Service

CPaaS solutions eliminate the enormous complexity and high costs of integrating applications with diverse, ever-evolving channels.

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The pandemic has altered not only how we buy products and services but how we communicate. A recent survey of 25,000 consumers in 30 global markets found that since the pandemic began, web browsing has increased by 70% and social media use by 61%. Between July 2019 and July 2020, 376 million people became new users of social media. Another study discovered that the pandemic has made consumers less loyal to stores and brands that do not offer flexible engagement models like buy online, pick up in store, or deliver to home options. More consumers intend to continue to shop online even as the crisis subsides, with a portion of them shifting almost entirely to the online channel. 

Companies and organizations of all kinds, serving varied vertical markets, have realized they need to communicate with consumers, employees, contractors, and partners using multiple communications channels (e.g., SMS, voice, email, social media) effectively – or risk serious inefficiencies and customer churn. In healthcare and emergency services, for example, failure to engage at the right time in the right way can even mean the difference between life and death. Simply put, users want to be able to switch between multiple channels seamlessly as their needs and context change. Companies want to able to send communications at the right time, to the right channel, based on consumer preferences.

Providing a true multichannel (using multiple channels) or omnichannel (delivering a consistent, personalized experience across multiple channels and devices) communications experience, however, is easier said than done. Companies that have tried to integrate many different communications vendors and solutions to provide multiple channels to their users and customers have found it prohibitively expensive, time-consuming, complex, and inefficient.

Changing Behavior and App Diversity

More than five billion people have smartphones. As of July 2020, more than half of all the people on Earth use social media. The average user is active on an average of nine different social media platforms and spends an average of nearly two and a half hours on social media daily.

The problem: Each different channel communications product has its own set of APIs and security and authentication requirements. Additionally,  regulatory compliance and consumer privacy rights mandates governing these channels  can differ dramatically between countries and regions.

SMS, for example, has become a dominant channel, alongside email, phone, and web. Application-to-person (A2P) SMS is a variant of SMS leveraged by organizations  to engage with their customers to send alerts, notifications, two-factor authentication, and advertising. Social messaging channels are increasingly being used for interactive, two-way communications with customers using rich media like images, audio, and video across the buying journey, for example responding to product queries and questions during purchase and customer service and support post-purchase. And the popularity of these diverse products like OTT Messaging, A2P SMS, and rich communications services (RCS)  channels varies throughout the world (e.g., Facebook Messenger dominates in the U.S., WeChat in China, and Line in Japan). 

“In addition to having different API specs, different messaging channels have vastly different authentication and user management processes,” said Meenal Prasad, Director, Head of Product Management at SAP. “These processes vary in their levels of security and transparency and organizations trying to integrate with each of these channels themselves face the gargantuan task of ensuring that they adhere to data privacy, data storage, and other stringent requirements across different countries and regions, and at times for regulated industries like healthcare and financial services.”

She also noted that companies seeking to integrate disparate channels themselves, piecemeal, may also be disappointed to discover that some channel products lack global reach and sufficient scalability.

Great Expectations

The ability to do-it-yourself when it comes to integrating and managing multiple communications is a huge, painful, expensive, unnecessary challenge.

No wonder the Communications Platform as-a-service (CPaaS) market is booming.

A study by IDC forecasts the CPaaS market will grow from $3.3 billion in 2018 to $17.2 billion in 2023. "CPaaS companies are integrating new segments, churning out new use cases, and piquing the interest of enterprise developers with innovative digital solutions for customer engagement," said Courtney Munroe, GVP, Worldwide Telecommunications Research at IDC.

As a highly cost-effective, outsourced cloud service that is managed, monitored, and kept up-to-date as channels and specs change, CPaaS should be at the top of enterprise IT wish lists.   

“Communication channels have splintered and multiplied to meet the needs of a diverse, global user base,” said SAP’s Prasad. “CPaaS is available to corral these channels into an integrated platform that allows for multichannel, omnichannel, security, compliance, and analytics features all in one.”

For more information SAP’s CPaaS offering, visit SAP Digital Interconnect.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.