Exploring Communications Platform as a Service with Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise
As the communication industry continues to evolve, and the conversation between the consumer and the company changes, organisations of all shapes and sizes have been exploring new ways to enhance their connections. For some, the Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS), and the concept of Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS is becoming more deeply integrated than ever before. After all, brands want both the simplicity of a managed service and the comprehensive tools they need to connect with customers.
To discuss the concept of UCaaS and CPaaS combined, we approached the Head of Government Market Business Engines at ALE (Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise), Jacques Der Ohanian. Jacques has been working with Alcatel for almost thirty years now, starting for in the R&D sections with innovations and specific applications for customers. Today, his focus is on vertical solutions management, but he feels that he has a strong and comprehensive view of the marketplace, and how his company works.
I recently read through the whitepaper that ALE had produced with Wainhouse Research called “Using the Cloud to Attract, Engage and Retain Customers.” I was keen to discuss the concept of interacting with customers in the modern age with Jacques, further He told me:
“Everyone in every generation today is more willing to use the latest technology in the marketplace. The rise of blogs and social media, among other things, means that people know more than they ever did before. In fact, they’re fully informed about the products and services they’re interested in before they even come to us. This age of the empowered customer means that the expectations from customers are higher than ever.”
Jacques noted that today’s customers are more impatient and demanding than ever. They want people at the lowest price, but with the highest share of features possible. This has changed the way that enterprises need to engage with customers. “At the same time, despite the fact that GDPR and other things are cracking down on the way that companies use private data, customers want to be known as real people – not just a number. They want to be treated as an individual, which is changing the way that we invest in things like digital marketing too.”
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise’s whitepaper talks about the sharing economy and the way that companies like Uber and Airbnb are also changing the way that businesses engage with customers. Jacques told me that the journey is all about finding, attracting, engaging, and retaining the right people, with differentiation, privacy, and great customer experience in mind.
“The rise of new technology has made the competition even harder than ever. If you want to connect with your customers, you need to engage early and keep your link going with the customer after they’ve already bought from you too.”
“When people are already doing their research online before they get in touch with you, that means that you have to get ahead of the conversation. We need to engage faster with customers, students, patients, and travelers to get them on board, and we need to engage for longer.”
For Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, the concept of the end-to-end customer experience isn’t a new thing, but it is something that the rise of new technology has drawn more attention to.
I was interested to find out how CPaaS and the right combination of CPaaS and UCaaS could help to improve digital engagement in this new marketplace. Jacques told me that the first thing is that UCaaS allows companies to integrate communications into whatever systems people are used to -including their web and mobile applications. “They need the solutions that are the simplest and most accessible to them.”
For most companies this starts with Instant Messaging, then as ALE notes, you need to enhance that service. “With a CPaaS solution like Rainbow, you can implement the servicers that are specifically needed for each company. You can put services in between the customer and company communication. For instance, if you need to contact someone, you can check who’s on duty at that time. If you need to get information for a customer, you can draw that data from a database. We can provide services automatically, or link someone to the right person at the right time.”
The CPaaS and UCaaS mix, according to Jacques, is all about mixing AI, bots, analytics, and communications for the before, during and after management of the customer experience.
“The standard IM and voice or video isn’t enough. You need additional services to put the right person in front of the right question.”
The concept of bringing CPaaS and UCaaS together can be quite complex for some companies; I asked Jacques what he thought the best way to look at new services might be for modern companies. He told me that he believes the first thing any business needs to do is understand what the main pain points are that their customers are facing.
“Only once they know what’s going on with their customers can they start looking at the issues they need to address. Technology is just an answer to a question; you need to find the problem first. Start by looking at the business, then implement solutions slowly and measure how they work with your customer or citizen.”
Jacques noted that in the past, communication was simple, with people just using phones and recording themselves. However, with CPaaS connecting objects, people, and services, communication is more complex than ever. “The key to success is creating the perfect customer and user experience, executing proof of concept and testing the solution works. Above all else, companies need to listen to their community.”
Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise is currently focusing on a range of verticals, including education, transportation, government, healthcare, and hospitality. They call this selection their “virtual circle.”
Jacques noted that it’s called a circle because ALE believes that they need to be on a journey of continuous development, using the feedback of the customer and the analytics to constantly improve the service. “While it’s simple enough to integrate APIs, you still need to look at the analytics and the user to implement something great.”
For ALE, the focus for the future in all verticals is to make complex communications less complicated.
“We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for organisations to embrace the new communication services they need. It’s all about cloud flexibility, tight integration, and customer experience.”