How often does your business review the returns offered by the different tools in your tech stack? Do you have a formalised process in place to measure this?
Larger companies with a procurement function will often enforce mandatory reviews across all teams. But startups? Scale ups? When you’re putting all your efforts into making your business viable, this is probably not top of mind.
For companies at this stage of their journey, it’s easy to sign sign sign as you quickly build out new functions across your organization. Especially if you’re cloud-native, you can find yourself with an imposing tech stack very early on in the game.
So the question becomes: how do you ensure that all of these tools and platforms complement each other and don’t overlap unnecessarily? And what do you do when one of them stops providing real value?
Keep a clear view of the benefits each provider delivers in the long term, then be sure to take stock at regular intervals, preferably in a quantifiable manner, of the extent to which they’re delivering.
Understand How Your Needs Change as You Grow
The other thing to keep in mind is that your organizational needs will change as you scale your business – and a tool that was appropriate when you had 5 employees might no longer pass muster when you have 50 or 500 or even 5,000.
Just a couple of examples of this in action:
- Many startups will use spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets for data storage at the outset of their growth journey, but fairly soon the number of contacts and complexity of relationships and opportunities means you’ll need to invest in a dedicated CRM such as Salesforce
- Marketing automation is the whole grail of lead generation, automating large parts of the process and ensuring sales teams are always well stocked with new opportunities. But architecting, building, maintaining and iterating a well-functioning marketing machine is a huge undertaking. If you’re at an early stage with marketing, with a small team and limited resources, there might be more flexible solutions that are better suited to your current needs.
Often when you start out, jack-of-all-trade tools are great because of the amount of functionality they offer at a reasonable price point. In other words they give you good bang for your buck initially.
But as you grow your teams, you start to bring on specialists and set narrower job functions and KPIs. Now, software that is best-of-breed in one particular area is likely to provide a better fit for your organization.
IT Budgets, Communications and CPaaS
To understand just how much you can benefit from switching to specialist tech solutions that scale more effectively with your needs, let’s work through a use case together – your CPaaS solution.
Why this example? Because Gartner sees communications services accounting for approximately 30 per cent of total IT spend this year, making comms one of the biggest operational expenses that your IT department have to contend with. And for many small businesses, whether they are cloud-native or migrating their infrastructure online, CPaaS will be the first experience you have of modern communications solutions.
If you’re not au fait with CPaaS or your company doesn’t use one, here’s the gist of what you need to know, as I think the following lesson can provide value to everyone regardless of how they manage their communications.
CPaaS, or Communications Platform as a Service, is a way of consuming cloud communications. Effectively these platforms enable developers to code their own communications apps out of various components and APIs provided as part of the CPaaS. A straightforward example would be using Twilio to build a communications solution for your contact center.
CPaaS – A Great First Bite of the Cloud Communications Apple…
Just to reinforce the point, CPaaS is a great introduction to the benefits of the cloud. Many organisations have used CPaaS to rapidly launch their communications in the cloud, and many others continue to do so.
The biggest benefit of CPaaS is that it lets you unlock the full power of your existing development resources, to quickly build out communications solutions tailored specifically to the needs of your business. At a platform layer, CPaaSs are typically packed full of features and functionality to help you create programmatic communications.
In addition, they bring to the table all the benefits of the cloud – from OpEx-based as-a-Service subscription models that remove the need for large capital investment in physical infrastructure, to real-time service provisioning, self-service management and rapid lead-in times.
… But Less Tasty As Your Business Grows
So what’s the problem then? CPaaS sounds great. It is, don’t get me wrong. But because of the complexity of these products, some of the key components on which a CPaaS is built will necessarily have been provided externally.
For the purposes of this illustration, I’m talking about the underlying telephony infrastructure on which these platforms sit. I’m talking about coverage. CPaaS providers are experts in platform building and servicing their customers with advanced functionality, they’re not telco operators.
This means they haven’t gone out to each country where they offer service, worked with local regulators to establish themselves as a licensed national operator and acquired their own number ranges. That would be too huge of an undertaking in an area away from their core business.
The end result is that their coverage is aggregated across a number of different providers. And while that may sound fine in principle, it’s where the ‘Jack of all ‘Trades’ approach can begin to run into problems, especially as you scale.
Why? Because as you enter new markets, you’ll quickly learn that this sort of aggregated voice coverage can lead to rapidly rising costs for your inbound and outbound voice minutes. Aggregating supply leads to margin stacking and this means it will nearly always be cheaper to get your coverage from a dedicated SIP trunk provider.
In addition, the aggregation model means less accountability and transparency for you when something goes wrong with your comms. You may have an SLA with your CPaaS, but they’ll in turn have one with each of their providers. And if there are further providers in the chain, each one will compound the amount of waiting time before your issue is resolved.
The other problem is that the more network hops your calls have to make between point A and B, the more issues around latency and jitter you’re likely to experience. In effect, the quality of your calls will drop.
What’s the Solution?
Ok, so this has hopefully outlined just some of the ways that a CPaaS is a great ‘Jack of all Trades’ when you’re starting out with cloud communications. But also how, as you scale your usage and your international footprint, it can soon become a ‘Master of None’.
That’s not entirely true though, because a good CPaaS will be a master of the platform layer, providing the actual tools and APIs and logic to build your custom comms stack. It’s just not a specialist in the underlying infrastructure layer.
But this serves to emphasise just why it’s so important to regularly review your tech stack in light of your changing business goals and needs as you grow.
So how do you get the best of both worlds? All the CpaaS platform features and tools that your teams know and love and that have helped you get this far, not to mention taking up a significant amount of investment in terms of dev resources into the code that you’re loath to throw away. Plus best-in-class telephony infrastructure in the countries where you need it?
It’s actually fairly simple. You just need to integrate your carrier or carriers of choice with your CPaaS, so that you can use phone numbers from the voice networks that you know and trust within your existing communications platform instead of the default telephony that’s bundled as standard. This is something that’s known as Bring Your Own Carrier.
The benefits of doing this are legion, but here are some of the headlines:
- The cost of your numbers and calls will be cheaper because you’re cutting out margin stacking and middle-man operators
- The reach of your CPaaS will be extended to anywhere your preferred carrier has coverage
- Quality will be improved because you’re working with providers you trust, which ultimately means a better, more reliable service and improved CX for your customers
- Support will be quicker because you can go straight to the source when there’s an issue
- You’ll unlock efficiency savings and get more ROI out of your existing CPaaS features and developer tools
Why Voxbone is the Right Provider for You
If you’re scaling to the point where you find your existing CPaaS solution is becoming cost prohibitive, it’s time to talk to Voxbone.
By using us as your carrier of choice you can avoid margin stacking and cut your overall communications bill, as well as extending the reach of your CPaaS platform into any of the 65 markets where we provide coverage and that it might not natively support.
Because we’re a national operator in most of these markets, you’ll receive service of the highest quality and reliability. Our platform is also developer friendly with a range of powerful APIs so the same resource you’re currently using to run your CPaaS can be used to provision the phone numbers and channel capacity you need in countries around the world.
And it’s easy to get started, with one of our test accounts and our detailed integration guides, that will help you get set up with Voxbone as a carrier alongside the biggest names in the CPaaS game in a matter of minutes.