Embedding collaboration into business workflows

Voice, video, messaging. Put them together and they are known as unified communications (UC). The way in which you implement UC results in another set of acronyms: CPaaS, UCC, UCaaS.  How do you know which option is best for you to embed collaboration into business workflows?


CPaaS, or Communications Platform as a Service, is a cloud-based solution that enables real-time communications (RTC) and unified communications and collaboration (UCC) to piggyback on existing web and mobile apps. Developers can embed voice, video, messaging, SMS and chat into a mobile banking app, for example, enabling a customer to ask a customer service agent questions while filling out a complex application form. This is a proven way to boost sales conversion rates and revenues.

CPaaS initially made its name with digital startups like Uber, Airbnb and OpenTable. Uber customers can “click to call or message” their driver using the app, enabling them to request an extra drop-off or pick-up point or resolve lost property problems. It increases the customers’ trust in the service and loyalty levels.

CPaaS can also be used for internal communications, enabling contact center agents to send SMS messages directly from Salesforce to field technicians to resolve an issue. This is in addition to:

  • Enabling click-to-call, -video and -chat in an application
  • Integrating scheduling software with SMS for appointment reminders or parcel delivery notifications
  • Translating speech-to-text for quick data entry or immediate email response
  • Implementing two-fact authentication through SMS for higher security
  • Launching group texts and calls
  • Providing call analytics and lead tracking

CPaaS tends to be priced on a per-transaction basis as part of an “as a service” business model. This means in-house developers don’t have to spend lots of time building chat functionality or maintaining back-end frameworks. It’s a cheaper and faster way to deploy integrated real-time communications to enhance the customer experience (CX) at a fraction of the typical cost and complexity.

UCC and UCaaS

UCC tools have now become intrinsic to the digital workplace. They enable workers to use tools with which they are familiar to share information with colleagues, partners and customers, boosting productivity.

UCC platforms were traditionally on-premise, hardware deployments, meaning your business brought in all the necessary hardware to run its own service, including data centers and server racks. UCaaS reduces CAPEX and risk by providing the enterprise with a cloud-hosted UCC service that can be up-scaled and down-scaled as required.

UCC platforms also now offer an increasingly mature set of pre-configured APIs that let you integrate UCC with other applications, such as ERP or customer service and ticket software. The idea is to enable embed communications into business workflows, making it easy to connect intelligently, share data and collaborate effectively to make better, faster decisions.

UCaaS are off-the-shelf products enterprises can start using immediately, backed by ongoing support to deploy the latest patches and feature upgrades.

Which is the best way forward for you?

Increasingly, we’re seeing UCaaS and CPaaS overlap. Several of the UCaaS vendors are expanding by acquiring CPaaS players and moving into that space. Others UCaaS providers are focusing on using APIs and open platforms to enable integration of their solutions with other applications.

The main difference is that UCaaS platforms are ‘ready to go’, offering some degree of customization with a quick time-to-market and ongoing support. Whereas CPaaS platforms require software developer to get down in the code and develop what you require to support your specific business workflow.

Today’s digital customers increasingly expect to communicate with companies via their preferred methods, which can be social media, SMS or good old-fashioned voice.  A CPaaS platform on top of a UCaaS platform can extend an organization's ability to interact with a wide range of customers without complete ripping and replacing its communications infrastructure.

Working with a managed service provider like Orange can help you make an informed choice. Our expert consultants have the know-how and experience to help you decide the right route, since we offer both UCaaS and CPaaS. Enterprises can really benefit from using our Open Innovation Lab, which uses Design Thinking, an iterative process that seeks to understand the user’s needs, challenges assumptions, and redefines problems to identify and develop the best strategies and solutions.

UCaaS and CPaaS can bring you big business benefits so it pays to make the right decision.

Find out more about collaboration best practices in our handy ebook.

Steve Harris

I’ve been writing about technology for around 15 years and today focus mainly on all things telecoms - next generation networks, mobile, cloud computing and plenty more. For Futurity Media I am based in the Asia-Pacific region and keep a close eye on all things tech happening in that exciting part of the world.