“Is our industry headed for imminent oblivion?”
In May 2023, Elka Popova, Vice President and Senior Fellow for Information and Communications Technologies at Frost & Sullivan, asked, “Are there any innovation vectors that can save telecom from becoming a tiny speck in the broader IT universe?”
Responding to panel insights from Cloud Connections 2023 in an article for nojitter.com, Popova emphasized the need for cloud communications innovation through new tech roadmaps, increased speed-to-market, and better strategic execution.
Popova’s concern that “most leading platforms have reached near-full parity when it comes to calling and private branch exchange (PBX) functionality” is a valid one: most voice and PBX) platforms have reached their technological limits for further cloud innovation. With widespread support for a variety of endpoints (cordless, desktop, mobile, etc.) and unified communications (UC), communication service providers (CSPs) now face the challenge of identifying new revenue streams without a cloud infrastructure. This gap will only prove greater over time as CSPs using legacy technology become unable to quickly adapt to fluctuating market demands.
As part of the Cloud Communications Alliance (CCA)-sponsored event, Brian Beutler, Founder and CEO of Alianza, offered his advice for CSPs struggling to redefine a sustainable business model within an increasingly cloud-focused industry.
How can service providers avoid oblivion? Cloud communications innovation. Here are the top 3 reasons why:
For decades, softswitches have been the standard in telecommunication, and while legacy vendors continue to make the case for cloud-hosted softswitches, the technology has plateaued. The hundreds of third-party integrations, deployments, and software versions that make the technology functional are unsustainable in a world quickly moving to other solutions.
Trying to make a softswitch work in today’s industry is a bit like trying to force a square peg into a round hole. Innovation has peaked, and, as a result, growth is stagnated.
Aspects of value such as service, velocity, flexibility, scalability (in terms of changing license numbers), digital agility, and the ability to react to market changes or consumer demands go beyond the capabilities of traditional telcos.
Beutler argues that these new value propositions are pushing the industry to evolve its approach with voice and driving the CSP transformation from traditional telcos to tech-cos. Nowadays, failing to adopt a cloud-based solution doesn’t differentiate CSPs; it merely serves to alienate them from innovation.
In many cases, innovation means reinvention, and that’s exactly where Alianza’s Beutler and other Cloud Connections panelists see the industry heading.
CSPs need to offer products and services that directly benefit their end users. Similarly, CSPs must understand the full capabilities of cloud communications platforms to effectively sell and support cloud-based solutions.
This last point is particularly critical as CSPs continue to lose market share to over-the-top (OTT) companies that directly compete with their end users. Innovation in cloud communications opens up new channels of growth in areas like virtual conferencing, security, and processing.
To remain relevant against this tidal wave of OTT adoptions, CSPs can leverage cloud-native platforms with the agility, flexibility, and innovative capabilities to keep up with (and even surpass) their OTT counterparts.
A major limitation of PBX setups is the disjointed experiences they cause end users, which can impact the bottom line of CSPs offering what many view as antiquated functionality.
Major OTT competitors bundle their services in an integrated, holistic way that streamlines workflows and simplifies adoption. Traditionally, the only real option available to CSPs wanting to offer integrated voice and chat, for example, was implementing a costly and complicated third-party integration. Innovation via the cloud, however, offers another solution, one that merges new native dialing technology with existing state-of-the-art digital collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams.
This service holds great potential for front-line workers and organizations that lack voice capabilities on their current Teams implementations.
CSPs with the ability to leverage cloud communications innovation can position themselves as a more accessible and customizable native voice option. That strategy is precisely why Beutler and Alianza’s product team developed a Microsoft Teams integration that can be enabled via a single admin and automates the voice configuration between the customer’s Microsoft 365 tenant and Alianza platform.
Making voice easy to deploy, consume, and scale is just one piece of the cloud communications innovation puzzle, though. CSPs that define the limits of what’s possible through innovative platforms and processes will be the long-term winners as the telco industry inevitably morphs into something new.
“APIs and programmability represent another important innovation vector that will separate the winners from the laggards,” writes Popova. Application priogramming nterfaces (APIs) lie at the heart of Alianza’s approach to radically simplifing operations and icreasing efficiencies for service providers.
More than APIs, programmability includes device management, analytics, reports and dashboards, and much more.
Together, these innovations remove operational friction, accelerates time-to-revenue, boosts margins, directly impact the customer experience, and creates a sustainable impact on the total cost of ownership (TCO) of cloud communications delivery.
Top of mind for many telecom C-level executives is “How can we catapult the industry, and our business, into high-growth mode again?” Certainly, with the rapid pace of change in cloud communications innovation, taking a “wait and see” approach won’t cut it. CSPs must transform their network by embracing adaptable, cloud-based solutions sooner rather than later.
Alianza offer a unique model dedicated to reinventing the telco industry. As the only cloud-native, carrier-grade communications platform specifically built for CSPs, Alianza helps service provider customers navigate the end of the softswitch era by upgrading to a cloud-native solution that supercharges growth, reduces costs, and transforms operating models into modern tech-cos.
Alianza’s dedication to cloud communications innovation, according to Beutler, is meant to “streamline workflows to improve customer experiences, reduce operating complexity, and accelerate time to market.”
With $200 million committed to research and development (R&D), Alianza aims to keep its place as an industry leader in innovation. On the roadmap for 2023 alone are several new products and integrations, including enhanced call recording, the native voice-enabled Microsoft Teams, and a state-of-the-art contact center.
In short, innovative solutions designed for service providers are Beutler’s ultimate answer to how telcos can reinvigorate and accelerate growth in a rapidly changing world. CSPs with cloud technology underpinning their offerings can deploy and create new solutions at a pace unimaginable to legacy providers.
So, is the telecommunications industry dying? Maybe in its current form.
But, like Beutler says, cloud communications innovation that is approached through a customer-centric and solution-based mindset can cause radical ripple effects. In Beutler’s own words, a “rising tide floats all boats.” It’s time for CSPs everywhere to get on board.