CPaaS Market: Using CPaaS as a Route to Communication-Rich Applications

Bringing communications functions into customer-facing applications is the final step in an enterprise's journey to contextual communications. By embracing today's communications platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) market, enterprises can integrate functions into mobile or web applications through APIs. Two parties can now connect without leaving the application because the functionality is delivered through the cloud and is managed within the application.

A man using two-factor authentication on his smartphone to activate a CPaaS market app
Two-factor authentication adds an additional layer of security to CPaaS market apps.

Supporting Voice and Messaging APIs for Application Integration

Within the CPaaS market, APIs for voice or messaging can help to more deeply integrate your customer-facing web applications and mobile apps with contact center phone and chat service agents. This is enabled by embedding the links to telephone, messaging, or other real-time communications functions directly into web and mobile apps.

Most voice and SMS APIs support numerous webhooks from various programming languages — JavaScript or Laravel, for example — to mobile operating systems like Android and iOS. The goal is to provide the most seamless customer experience possible for each customer's preferred device, application, and communication style.

Protecting Participants' Data Privacy with Virtual Numbers

To protect the personal information of the customer — and the contact center agent — interactions such as a click-to-call exchange require some additional technology, which is simple to implement in the form of virtual phone numbers.

When the customer clicks on the link within a web application or mobile app to talk to a contact center service agent, it sets up a call between the customer's and the agent's numbers. By using virtual phone numbers, the phone lines of the two CPaaS participants — the customer and agent — are connected through what amounts to a virtual switchboard, thus assuaging any concerns about a potential violation of the customer's or agent's privacy.

The company can choose whether to display call information from a toll-free number or a number within the customer's local area code; the agent sees this same number on her display. The CPaaS platform substitutes the two phone numbers with this virtual number, which is not tied to anyone's name or other data — except that perhaps of the company itself.

Similarly, a customer can message a customer service agent from a within her mobile app. The app is connected to a virtual phone number that sends and receives SMS text messages from her phone and relays them to the customer service agent's phone. The only information exchanged is the name the customer has previously provided and the virtual alias of the service agent.

Digital economy companies and agile enterprises are quickly becoming software companies. Their internal developers can now leverage APIs as the building blocks upon which to create their CPaaS platforms.

How the CPaaS Market Enables Communication-Rich Applications

The point of all these APIs in CPaaS is to improve the customer experience. In communication-rich applications this can happen in two or more ways.

Consider Uber, Lyft, or similar ride-sharing SMS- and voice API-powered apps. When a rider drops a pin on the map to hail a car, the rider's app sends an SMS message to the drivers' version of the app. All available drivers in the vicinity receive the SMS. When a driver accepts the hail, a return in-app message goes to the rider confirming the driver's identity and the make and model of his car.

When the driver is close to the pickup location, he'll send an additional SMS message that arrival is imminent. Or if the rider is anxious about the driver running late, she may send an in-app SMS message to the driver asking for an estimated time of arrival. However, because texting while driving is illegal in many states — and generally dangerous in any event — there's another option: a voice call.

The driver and rider can have a voice conversation over the phone. This call allows them to work out any details, such as local inaccuracies of the pickup site location, what the rider is wearing, or whatever else is necessary to complete the pickup.

Confirming CPaaS App Downloads

Cybercriminals and bots seem to be everywhere these days, and the market for CPaaS app downloads is no exception. To mitigate the number of unauthorized rider and driver app downloads and account activations, some ride-hailing apps have instituted two-factor authentication security powered by an API. Two-factor authentication is a traditional but fast-growing security technique to provide an additional layer of verification above and beyond the usual username and password.

Powered by a two-factor authentication API, the ride-hailing app user is prompted to enter an SMS-capable phone number into the app. The app then sends an out-of-band SMS message with a verification code to the supplied phone number. The idea is that this added layer will ensure only legitimate downloads result in account activation.

Digital economy companies and agile enterprises are quickly becoming software companies. Their internal developers can now leverage APIs as the building blocks upon which to create their CPaaS platforms.

Contact a Vonage Business representative to explore voice, SMS, and two-factor APIs. Also, have your developers take the opportunity to discover the powerful potential of Nexmo, the Vonage API platform.

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