UC Today Guest Post by Bertrand Pourcelot, Managing Director, Enreach for Service Providers
Cloud calling, in combination with BYOC, has some appealing potential benefits, which is why it is no surprise it is something being adopted or investigated by many service providers right now. However, successful implementation depends on understanding several varying factors. Otherwise, those benefits are quickly eroded by a lack of control, complexity, and failure to make the most of BYOC’s potential return on investment.
More on those factors shortly, but first, more on those promised benefits and asking why even bother with BYOC? For established service providers, they may want to explore cloud calling, but they do not want to lose the value of existing carrier relationships, which may have taken years to develop, with negotiated prices and knowledge of each other’s working processes, together with the same BSS to rate and bill traffic.
Plus, of course, cloud calling in itself is a gateway to more than just giving customers more flexible voice services. By blending voice, collaboration and productivity tools, contact-centre style features, and even vertical market apps, cloud communications can provide users with one single interface for various services. So, cloud calling can be the start of an evolving strategy that enables service providers to offer broader, more compelling portfolios in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
It has become increasingly clear that, while it is in its relative infancy, SaaS-based BYOC is the way of the future and is expected to become more widespread. The launch of MS Operator Connect, including BYOC and MS Teams SaaS, is helping to raise market visibility. SaaS’s openness makes cloud services supported by BYOC easier to onboard and accessible to a wider range of service providers, particularly smaller ones with fewer resources than larger players. Consequently, SaaS is a faster route to offering cloud calling and other attractive services and — in combination with other emerging trends such as self-service — can help service providers target more SMEs. In turn, these customers benefit from telephony that can scale up or down, giving them more flexibility.
What is essential to bear in mind, however, is that while SaaS-based BYOC may be easier and faster to adopt, it can rapidly become a complex environment, one where it is hard to control the performance — or even the visibility of — the various elements involved in delivering end-to-end services. What about upgrading the lifecycle when a vast combination of carrier interconnects and APIs is involved? In addition, who is providing billing: the service provider or the carrier? What about security guarantees? Who is responsible for fraud detection or data protection? And, what about SLAs? Furthermore, what is required to support BYOC from a technical perspective?
A final but critical point is to remember that cloud-calling via BYOC should include mobility too. With the volume of mobile traffic continuing to outpace fixed voice, any strategy that does not embrace mobile — whether now or simply being prepared for it in the future — is a short-term strategy. Sure, there may not be the same number of mobile carrier options compared to fixed telephony networks, but mobile must be in the mix. It is encouraging that Microsoft recognises this with Operator Connect Mobile.
Also, as well as mobile voice, BYOC needs to have the potential to support fixed mobile convergence (FMC). That said, full FMC with Bring your Own Mobile (BYOM) is more complex than BYOC, needing deeper integration and a broader range of use cases, so it is important to partner with organisations that truly understand those requirements.
A further and essential point is that cloud calling’s adoption is escalating, and there are still profitable margins to be had, even with customer expectations of better value-for-money. Also, the service provider’s total cost of ownership and investment will still be less than traditional hardware-based solutions. Add in BYOC, and service providers have a route to greater flexibility and freedom to operate how they want. Plus, via SaaS, service providers can also bring their own integrations via APIs to create their own customer solutions for greater market differentiation. So, it is clear: cloud-calling and BYOC, combined with cloud, mobile, APIs and other innovations, can be a route to exploring new market opportunities for service providers while controlling margins and the value chain.