Through APIs and low-code/no-code platforms, enterprises can adapt to changing communications and collaboration needs.
The pandemic has had a profound impact in almost all aspects of our lives. One of the biggest changes is how we communicate with one another. Prior to COVID-19, collaboration tools were used by primarily knowledge workers when we were in the office and had to communicate with people outside of our walls. But then the world changed, and we all had to rely on collaboration tools to work, learn, socialize, and even be entertained. These applications allowed us to maintain social proximity even though we were socially distant.
In many ways, collaboration tools saved us. Without the ability to video each other, life would have been quite isolated. However, the broad use of collaboration tools did expose some weaknesses in the products, as they were not ideal for all use cases. This is no fault of the collaboration industry as there’s no way to build a single product that could be used by everyone, everywhere and meet all their needs.
For example, with field service, having to load a full UC client when all the person needs to do is have a quick video call to show a colleague a problem seems like overkill. Additionally, consider this example: A business wants to use an app as a way to check people into a building remotely. This use case would most likely require a combination of a collaboration tool with another application. Examples of one-off and custom use cases that require a UC-like experience but not the stock one that most of us in the industry use are countless.
Here is where composable communications plays a key role. To level-set, ZK Research defines a composable enterprise as: “An organization that achieves business outcomes by adapting to changes quickly through a combination of packaged applications and application building blocks.” This could include exportable data, APIs, and low-code/no-code systems.
A good example of a composable vendor is Toolwire, which built an advanced learning system with synchronous and async capabilities on top of Avaya Spaces. The educational space has complex requirements that can’t be met with off-the-shelf collaboration tools. A good enterprise example is Senderra, a specialty pharmacy for thousands of physicians’ practices and hospitals across the United States. The company used RingCentral’s APIs to automate several communications-centric processes, including receiving faxes and communications through SMS, saving employees time and the company a significant amount of money.
Although many service providers claim to be composable, not all of them are. To meet all aspects of composability, the UCaaS or CCaaS vendor must offer the following:
- Cloud-native back-end as this enables communications agility and rapid development tools
- Built on a CPaaS foundation with a broad set of APIs for developers and ISVs
- Rich UC or CC client available as a desktop app or on a browser
- Low-code platform for users with light development skills
- No-code interface to enable line-of-business users with no coding experience to create their own apps
As companies head down the path of becoming composable organizations, several key questions arise. These include:
- Are mainstream businesses ready for composability?
- What kind of business outcomes can be achieved?
- How does a company get started?
- What are some good examples of composability that can lead to quick wins?
- How does this change security requirements?
- How do developers, IT pros, and line-of-business professionals work together?
- What should business decision-makers look for in a solution provider?
These are just some of the topics I’ll be discussing at Enterprise Connect 2022 on my panel titled, “Making the Composable Enterprise Real.” The session will be on Monday, March 21 at 10:15 a.m. I’ll be doing a short presentation and then will do a panel Q&A with the following:
- Simon Harrison, chief marketing officer, Avaya
- Jason Copeland, VP of product, Cisco Webex
- Chas Bowman, senior manager, solutions engineering contact center, Twilio
- Savinay Berry, EVP product and engineering, Vonage
I believe composability to be the next big thing in communications, and we have some excellent panelists from vendors that have embraced this emerging concept. I hope you can join us as it’s critical for businesses to have the right strategy in this area. See you in Orlando!