Shaping the future of communications
Pankaj Gupta, CEO and founder of vCloudx, explains why enterprises are rapidly adopting CPaaS solutions to accelerate digital business transformation initiatives.
What can you tell us about your company?
We are almost a 4-year-old company and have been commercially active for nearly a year now. We spent more than two years building our product, which was initially launched in India. We are a 50-member team with our HQ in Singapore and two engineering centres in India. We are one of the very few full-stack CPaaS (communication platform as a service) providers with end-to-end communication APIs for video, voice, and SMS. Over the last six months, we have started working with customers across various geographies, including the Middle East, where a couple of fintech players use our video platform for KYC.
What is driving the demand for CPaaS?
A few things have happened since the term CPaaS was coined a few years back. We have seen it mature in the last couple of years and being abused at the same time. If you look at the core definition of CPaaS, it is all about communication APIs, on top of which you can build everything. However, even SMS gateway vendors or simple call centre solution providers call themselves CPaaS providers.
We have definitely seen a huge uptake in communication platforms in the last two-three years, and this work from home trend has brought in some tailwind, especially on the video side of APIs. What is really driving the demand is the move towards omnichannel customer experience. As you know, communication channels are moving away from traditional voice to more of an integrated experience, and CPaaS has become an important tool for CIOs for seamless integration of different channels of communication within in the workflow of their business applications.
Are you seeing new CPaaS use cases?
Many use cases are emerging, especially in healthcare, field services, and retail. In retail, for example, video commerce is gaining a lot of traction as a result of this pandemic where video content is being used to demonstrate products to customers online. In addition to basic CPaaS, there is also a huge interest in value-added capabilities such as emotion AI or using annotation tools on top of video calls. A case in point is video-based contact centres where AI is taking customer interaction service to the next level.
Do you offer omnichannel messaging capabilities and chatbots?
Our messaging offering is expanding. We already have SMS, in-app messaging and we are constantly adding new channels. We don’t do chatbots because, in my view, it is an application. As a CPaaS provider, we are sitting at a layer below, and when we talk about AI, it is on the video analytics side for features such as facial recognition and emotion analysis.
What is the difference between UCaaS and CPaaS?
UCaaS is a product built on top of CPaaS, which is the underlying technology stack. A genuine CPaaS platform gives you flexible APIs that you can use to build any solution. Some players claim to be CPaaS providers, but what they actually do is offer you products, exposing some APIs, which is not pure-play CPaaS.
Do you think WebRTC will be a game-changer for CPaaS?
Our video stack is based on WebRTC and is now the de facto mechanism for video and voice communications through web browsers and mobile devices. Recently, even the biggies like Apple and Microsoft have started supporting WebRTC. Though it is an evolving technology, it is going to be the future of real-time communication.
What kind of verticals are you targeting?
As a CPaaS platform, we are very horizontal in nature. We offer APIs, which can be consumed by anyone building any kind of application. We have consumers across all verticals. We have one of the biggest contact centres in India using our platform for video communications. Likewise, we have clients in the fintech space using video for customer verification and healthcare providers for remote consultation.
What are some of the key CPaaS trends to watch out for this year?
We believe the video will take off in a big way, with 5G acting as a catalyst. Video will become the de facto communication channel, and more and more voice applications will start working on a video at the click of a button. As the adoption of video increases, video analytics will also become important.
Is yours a cloud-based platform?
We offer services over the cloud but can also deploy the platform with full capabilities on-prem, hybrid, or even private cloud. That’s what makes us unique. We are currently in talks with a few banks in the Middle East for deploying the whole stack in their data centres because of regulatory reasons. Microsoft has a cloud data centre in the UAE, and we can set up a dedicated instance in this facility to offer our platform on the cloud so that there is no data transfer outside of the region.