I thought it worth taking a moment to review some of the companies I’ve talked to over the past 6 months that are either running their business on Telecom APIs, or helping others run their businesses on Telecom APIs. Common themes from the interviews are:
- Focus on running the core business. Telecom APIs means a business can focus on its core operations not messing around with voice servers or unreliable third party services that are difficult to work with.
- Lowest Total Cost of Ownership. Support matters, availability matters, downtime costs businesses severely in lost revenue, customer churn and damaged reputation. The Telecom API service must be reliable and supported.
- Reliability of voice. People just expect voice to work, and get angry when it does not. We use the term carrier-grade, but most people do not understand what that means, its an industry term. Simply, Telecom APIs need to deliver a rock-solid service that businesses and their customers can count on.
- Complexity at volume. Calls have many failure modes, businesses need an expert to help them know what’s normal and ensure the call / message gets through as their business relies on it.
- Trusted partner. Businesses are looking for more than an API, they’re looking for a partner to help them build their business, that helps them add SMS or video or speech-to-text to make their business better. Businesses need advice from someone that has their trust and is focused on their business success.
BUT telcos cannot just sit there offer some APIs, run a few developer events with some self-focused evangelism, and hope that something happens. They need to build the business, and this requires marketing, sales, business development, and support. A developer community can be part of building a Telco’s API business, but its optional. Rather telcos need to engage existing channels to market (e.g. enterprise sales people and partners), eat their own dog food with using Telecom APIs for in their solutions (internal trading systems need to be updated to accommodation sharing in success rather than taxing internal consumers of the API), marketing is much more than a developer portal – Telcos must engage decision makers, the list goes on. Simply, copy Tropo’s secret sauce with adaptations to your specific situation.
Here are just a few on the many companies interviewed in the past 6 months on Telecom APIs:
- Apidaze.io: cloud communications API for developers with tools for building web or mobile communication services, and a special focus on WebRTC. I’m hoping to review some of their deployments on this weblog soon.
- BableVerse: is the people–powered universal translator of the spoken word, powered by a global community of remote interpreters. BabelVerse relies on people to preserve the quality, context, cultural relevance, tone and emotion of the spoken word. This is much better than any algorithm. Machine translation is just not reliable for real conversations. Skilled multilingual and professional interpreters alike can earn money for their time, creating a new source of income for people all over the world. And thanks to it being done remotely, interpreters can now work on a global scale. BabelVerse interpreters receive 70% of the per minute interpretation price. Rates are set by BabelVerse, varying per language pair according to parameters such as the cost of living in different countries.
- Bistri: Video chat with fun video effects, take screenshots of calls, share them with friends or social networks. Bistri runs in the browser using Flash or WebRTC, so there’s no need to install additional software or plugins.
- Blue Cross Blue Shield STATChat: Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) is a federation of 38 separate health insurance organizations and companies in the United States. Combined, they directly or indirectly provide health insurance to over 99 million Americans. BCBS uses Phono for STATchat, a fast, free and simple way to talk with a provider services representative after a healthcare provider (usually a doctor or dentist’s secretary) has searched online for the answer to a claims status or eligibility question.
- Crunched: sales and marketing intelligence platform that helps companies close more deals with deeper insights into their customers. Another benefit is the integration into SFDC (Salesforce.com), which removes time wasted on data entry. For sales people, entering all their calls and meetings into packages like SDFC is a massive burden, resulting in inadequate and duplicated data entry, which weakens the power of SFDC.
- delivery.com: delivery.com focuses on truly representing the local businesses within a neighborhood. And it’s not just food, its groceries, cleaners, wine and liquor. You’ll see the actual businesses in a neighbor, not just some instance of a big corporate chain. Delivery.com has been building this business over 12 years, with a focus on the US, especially the cities, and building a truly local presence.
- Drum by NetDev: Drum is designed so that it can be used not just for business meetings and presentations, but for other tasks such as project updates, customer care, collaborative sales and even for charity and social club meeting management. A key aspect of Drum is that it supports the entire lifetime of the meetings and stores all documents and group interactions for every meeting so users can present documents, take notes, and assign tasks before, during and after any meeting.
- myaNUMBER: The main functions of the myaNUMBER service are: Gives your kids a single ten-digit number to reach a trusted adult; Ensures children can always reach a trusted adult when they need to; Uses location so you always know where your family are; Use everyone’s existing phones – landlines & mobile numbers on all carriers; and Your family stays updated with text and email reports after each call.
- RadioWaves: A popular category of use cases for Phono is in creating low cost, highly integrated call center agent seats. RadioWaves, a seller of advertising to radio stations, built their product specifically for their internal needs it’s a captive system.
- Solaiemes: Leading in RCS (Rich Communication Suite) APIs and recently gave a demo of WebRTC to RCS. Demonstration of RCS messaging and WebRTC to access media components of devices to renew the value of the PSTN (and also mobile) lines. It shows how unified communications can be built with just a mash-up of standards and APIs.
- Speak2Leads: respond almost immediately to a customer lead, with six in total carefully timed contact attempts. A Kellogg study on Lead Response Management (LRM) revealed the odds of connecting with a lead increases by 100 times if attempted within 5 minutes versus 30 minutes after the lead is generated. And the odds of converting a lead if called in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes increases by 21 times. 78% of all sales go to the first company to return a prospect’s call. Using Speak2Leads can double and in some cases triple a company’s sales.
- TeleSmart: TeleSmart offers custom-tailored call routing and IVR (Interactive Voice Response) solutions. They’ve processed over 78 million customer calls serving thousands of clients. They are the largest independent provider of vanity numbers in North America, with over 25k such numbers under management. In today’s web-centric world we may think such services are declining in usage, they are not, with the rise in ecommerce, traffic on vanity numbers continues to grow.
- Vobi: Uses the mobile phone number as the control point for identity and collaboration. The mobile identity is the starting point for contextual collaboration which is collaboration that examines user context, content and identity to form a more powerful interaction experience. Vobi is the first company to stretch the use of the users mobile voice activity into collaboration activity and business intelligence. And again runs their business on Telecom APIs.
- Voxeo Labs: with their triumvirate of Tropo (Communication API), Phono (Real Time Web Communication API) and Ameche (Service platform in the network with Web APIs, Tropo and Phono)
- Zingaya: Embed a ‘Call’ button into the website. Visitors can click that button and the call is forwarded to the website operator’s preferred land-line or mobile phone. All that is required is a website; all the visitors need is a browser and microphone.
Telecom APIs make business sense, and Telcos must build the business both internally and externally. Sitting there and waiting for magic to happen is not a business strategy. Building the business requires more than a technology decision or the signing of a piece of paper; it requires marketing, sales, business development, and support. In short, hard work!