by Todd Hagstrom, Senior Director – Product Management at Bandwidth (www.bandwidth.com)
Never before have there been two more suited partners than today’s new cloud-based software and old school telecom networks. With consumer and enterprise appetites more voracious than ever for cross-platform and cross-device communications, it’s becoming imperative that just about every type of company involved with communications taps into the world of telecom and the cloud is the key.
Today’s regional carriers, Over-The-Top (OTT) application providers, CRM/SaaS platforms, all types of software developers, and major enterprises recognize the tremendous value that communications functionality, like voice and messaging capability, can inject into their existing technologies. The challenge up to this point has been accessing that functionality without having deep telecom experience. Today, with the intersection of telecom and software, complex voice and messaging technologies can now be embedded and consumed more easily—giving consumers and enterprise software users a wider variety of ways to communicate via talk, message and video, across applications and devices.
But what does all this mean for the telecom industry? The beauty of this important crossroads is the way that telecom services, in all forms, can be exposed (and simplified) through the right kind of software. For businesses and communications providers (and ultimately consumers) to experience the benefits of this relationship, there are three main elements that must be present.
1. Proven Demand for the Product or Service
When there is proven market demand for a product, integrating the right type of communications capabilities is a no-brainer. Take a company like Saddleback Communications, for example, an ILEC based out of Arizona. Saddleback recently started a new division, Re-invent Telecom, to meet the demands of its resellers who wanted to tap into new revenue streams. Through the use of existing IP networks, Re-invent is competitively and effectively making it happen with an exciting new hosted VoIP phone solution for businesses.
Another example would be a major software or CRM product that’s already on the market with tremendous adoption (think Salesforce.com or even Facebook) but doesn’t have voice and messaging functionality in-app and forces users to take important conversations “offline” to their mobile phones. Cloud-based APIs make it easier than ever for those sites to incorporate voice or text with literally a few clicks of a button, allowing a new level of engagement and sophistication that users now demand.
2. A Carrier-Grade Telecom Network
Cloud-based services like the one provided by Re-Invent Telecom and many others heavily rely on the power of the “old school” telecom infrastructure for important facets of their product offering—number origination, termination, caller ID services and more. Likewise, a CRM software product that wants to include toll free messaging in its offer can’t do it without access to the digits. Problem is, most companies don’t have the time, resources or inclination to build an entire nationwide network on their own. A nationwide, carrier-grade VoIP network bridges the gap, providing direct access to resources that help these technologies scale efficiently and cost effectively.
3. Cloud-Based Software (APIs)
The API is the secret sauce, or the glue, that holds the marriage of telecom and the cloud together. It’s what enables virtually any type of company to gain quick and easy access to the world of telecom—without having to get its hands dirty. APIs allow developers to embed voice and messaging into any software, without traditional carriers or complicated integrations. There are a wide variety of API providers, but they all must rely on a carrier-grade network to administer their offerings.
In today’s communications environment, there’s a huge opportunity to make telecom more accessible by wrapping software around its core elements and letting app developers, CRM providers, enterprises and others serve themselves through flexible APIs. Many are taking advantage of the scale, quality, speed and economics that come with exposing all the goodness of telecom through software. Because in the end, building your own network infrastructure won’t score you points with those voracious customers—but quick access to the functionality they crave can reward your business in spades.