If you've made decisions regarding your company's third-party solutions, you know that picking the right vendor is just as important as choosing the tool itself. To put it in dating terms, a great solution with a not-so-great vendor is like a partner who embodies all the qualities you desire, but has awful parents. No matter how great things are between you, even if you think they're "the one," there's always a chance your poor relationship with the people who created them will sour the whole deal.
This concept is doubly important when considering a CPaaS provider. Because deploying a communications platform solution is more of an ongoing collaborative relationship than a one-off purchase, there's a good chance you — or at least your developers — will be in frequent contact with your vendor. Ensuring they're the type of business you don't mind intermittently working shoulder-to-shoulder with should be a primary concern for you and anyone responsible for integrating the solution's features across your offerings.
Keeping that in mind, here are the features, tools, and traits to look for in the CPaaS market — whether you're looking to enhance your offerings or switch from your current vendor.
1. Does Your CPaaS Provider Offer a Strong Selection of APIs?
This first item should speak to the quality of the solution. The APIs a CPaaS offers will be top-of-the-list when choosing the platform itself. Even then, the breadth, depth, and general quality of the APIs a CPaaS provider offers says a lot about the vendor, making all these factors worth a serious look.
Your potential provider's offerings should mirror your company's current-day needs and near-future plans. Though all vendors will likely offer a slate of general tools, how does their broader portfolio of APIs align with what you're trying to accomplish? When you want to add touch-to-video-chat features to a customer-facing smartphone app within a year, are you going to have to add a second vendor to get the support you need? By comparing the core capabilities reflected in the vendor's current offerings — and the trends they've grown towards as they've added APIs to their portfolio — you should get a sense of whether their values, competencies, and ongoing specialization within the market match your own evolving needs.
Your vendor's offerings should vastly simplify your dealings with individual carriers and generally make outbound communications easier. Keep this in mind as you continue your hunt for a vendor.
2. How Long Have They Been on the Market?
As an industry, CPaaS has seen massive growth in recent years. With big money on the line, it's hardly surprising that a stream of bright-eyed newcomers have attached themselves to the market of late — including some definite flashes in the pan.
Of course, it goes without saying no business wants to be left holding the bag when their exciting new CPaaS vendor goes under or gets absorbed by a larger entity — and then taken off the market for retooling. To avoid this potential wrinkle, take a long look at the provider's lifespan: While noted leaders and long-lived specialists who match your needs are probably safe, you're right to be wary of any company that's still cutting its teeth, no matter what they promise. This isn't to say every newcomer is destined for failure in a robust market like CPaaS, but longevity should still be an area of concern.
3. Do They Offer a Thriving User and Developer Community?
Developing with modern CPaaS tools requires a lower skill ceiling than you might expect. Making things easier is kind of the point of all those APIs, after all. That said, questions, roadblocks, and problems too difficult to answer easily are still bound to arise, regardless of your development team's skill level. This alone makes a robust, active user/developer community a must-have when choosing a CPaaS provider. Although you can likely still have your questions answered through traditional support channels, a less formal support space makes the ongoing development process considerably easier.
Communities are useful beyond answering problems and easing frustrations. Since developers are encouraged to share best practices and even code and tools they've developed to use with the platform, developers willing to invest the time to interact may soon find themselves more skilled with the platform — and thus better able to implement its features fully.
4. What About Network Infrastructure?
For companies using CPaaS for outbound calling or SMS needs, a vendor's ability to provide consistent, reliable service in the region or regions of choice is obviously a top consideration. Coverage, however, is only part of the deal. The steps your vendor takes to ensure that consistency and reliability must also be front of mind.
Need will likely determine exactly what features you search for. The more carrier networks your vendor partners with, the easier and faster it is to transmit outbound communications. Meanwhile, constant monitoring and optimization of connections ensures a high level of redundancy in case one carrier's network has trouble or similar problems impact performance.
In total, your vendor's offerings should vastly simplify your dealings with individual carriers and — once the CPaaS solution is fully integrated — generally make outbound communications easier. Keep this in mind as you continue your hunt for a vendor.
Ready to implement advanced communication features or make a switch to a new provider? Let Vonage Business help.