Communications Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) is a cloud-based platform that enables the integration of real-time communications into business applications through application programming interfaces (APIs).

There are many benefits of such integration from improving customer experience to automating processes for productivity gains. CPaaS has been developed to address the growing opportunities arising from people communicating through different channels such as messaging, voice, video and social media; and the increasing usage of mobile devices for communications and online transactions.

This is especially important in the Asia-Pacific region given its population and a growing number of millennials and digital natives who are accustomed to mobile-first, cloud-enabled technologies. With about 2.4 billion smartphones users in the region, this is central to how users communicate and transact. Moreover, digital services – more than 2 billion over-the-top (OTT) messaging users, 1.5 billion mobile social networking subscriptions and 800 million mobile money users. The adoption of CPaaS is well underway and it is expected to pick up pace in 2019 in Asia Pacific as more use cases emerge.

Omni-channel capability demand on the rise

One key opportunity for CPaaS is in the enablement of omni-channel customer experience (CX). There is an increasing demand for omni-channel capability due to changing customer behaviour. Customers are demanding greater flexibility in how they engage with their suppliers – happening around the clock with fewer visits to the stores or calls to contact centers.
Facing intense competition and digital disruption, businesses are looking to win and retain customers with a more seamless and personalised customer experience. Moreover, providing more self-service functionality can lead to a reduction of inbound traffic to a contact center delivering benefits in both cost savings and improvements in customer experience, typically measured via a net promoter score (NPS).

However, the CPaaS market is fragmented and remains a nascent market in the Asia Pacific since many CPaaS players are headquartered in North America and Europe and have a smaller presence in Asia. However, this may start to change as global CPaaS providers establish a stronger presence in Asia (such as Infobip and Nexmo) as well as the emergence of CPaaS providers in Asia (such as M800 and Wavecell).

Wavecell, for example, is headquartered in Singapore and has established a local presence in Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Having a strong local presence is a key consideration for many enterprise customers as they look for a provider that can offer local currency billing, local language support, compliance management, and in-country ecosystem.

Service providers show an interest

Communication Service Providers (CSPs) are also showing interest in developing CPaaS capabilities. Tata Communications launched Click2RTC in 2015. In 2018, Singtel announced its partnership with Twilio to develop a set of APIs that will enable developers to manage cellular connectivity of their connected devices. We expect greater market activities in the coming years as enterprises put more investment into the Internet of Things (IoT), automation and omni-channel customer experience projects.

For CSPs such as Singtel and Axiata which have a significant mobile footprint across the Asia-Pacific region, both can provide a conduit to their customer bases across the region for businesses. Telefonica O2, for example, has tapped into this with schemes such as Priority Moments (enabling businesses to offer exclusive deals to its customer base) – and area for Singtel and Axiata to consider.

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