AS MOBILITY ADOPTION CONTINUES TO GROW and shared workplaces become increasingly more common in business, there is greater demand for the integration of employee communications platforms and third-party applications. The goal is to drive operational processes to better connect teams across enterprise and SMB boundaries—from Salesforce.com and SAP to the local engineering firm—with automated workflows and advanced collaboration capabilities. But the problem with legacy communications solutions is they lack the flexibility and functionality to meet these new business objectives and to keep pace with the latest technology trends.
The good news? A new generation of applications is available to address those issues. Through open APIs, these solutions give organizations, as well as their outsourcing partners, the ability to integrate programmable functionality into their existing business applications and workflows. These cloud-based communication platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) solutions are typically hosted by a vendor or technology partner, so the hardware investment requirements are minimal.
Their APIs allow developers to add real-time communications features such as voice, video, and messaging into their applications without building out costly back-end infrastructure and multiple interfaces. A recent IDC report suggests the market for these solutions is projected to reach $8.2 billion by 2021, up from $867 million in 2016, nearly a tenfold increase.
Connect Your Apps with CPaaS
As a result, vendors are increasingly stepping away from proprietary communications offerings by providing open APIs. That move gives solution providers and IT teams the confidence and capabilities they need to develop more practical apps that can be readily integrated into existing communications infrastructure. As companies prepare for greater digital interdependence, CPaaS solutions can be a catalyst driving their digital transformation by enabling greater collaboration inside and outside their companies.
That move also empowers employees, giving them the ability to easily connect with co-workers and customers, as well as outside subject matter experts. CPaaS lets them collaborate with the right people in the right place at the right time.
For example, banking apps typically allow customers to check balances, make payments, and transfer money between their accounts. But rarely do they have an option to chat directly with an adviser. With CPaaS integration, the customer could initiate a conversation via text, audio, or video, rather than being forced to switch platforms—no need to pick up the phone or draft an email.
Linking It All Together
Salesforce reports that 79 percent of IT teams are now actively involved in building apps for their customers, partners, or employees. With open APIs, CPaaS solutions could simplify their efforts. A company could integrate both its in-house and third-party applications, creating a separate and secure environment to improve collaboration.
Since APIs are open source, businesses can pick and choose the communications functionalities they need—such as conferencing, instant messaging, and video calls—and bundle them into their existing business applications. CPaaS APIs also enable developers to extend connections to stand-alone infrastructures, providing a simple and secure way to bring communication and collaboration capabilities to systems and processes, both inside and outside traditional company borders.
Security Is a Top Priority
As businesses grow increasingly mobile, security is becoming a greater challenge. Top priorities not only include protecting the operating system and flow of information, but securing the application and access privileges as well. The growing severity and rising profile of cyberattacks is elevating the stress levels of corporate executives.
With a few precautions, CPaaS can alleviate some of their concerns. Third-party network scanners, vulnerability management, and cloud security solutions offer greater protection. Top that off with periodic tests of the servers and certified audits, and business leaders should rest a little easier.
CPaaS can also benefit their physical security applications. These solutions allow businesses to leverage proactive notification services with their internal safety systems, from access controls and video cameras to security and fire alarms. One communications platform can manage it all—offering greater protection for employees, visitors, and the business.
MOUSSA ZAGHDOUD is director of the cloud business unit at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise.