I attended IT Expo this year, and while I was there, I was able to sit in on the panel discussion DIY: Building a Next-Gen Carrier. SkySwitch’s Founder and President, Eric Hernaez, was a panelist in this discussion that brought to light interesting things carriers are currently doing, what we can expect to see in the future and what differentiates a successful carrier from one that isn’t.
The moderator of the panel was Peter Radizeski, President of RAD-INFO, and the other panelists speaking that day included McClain Roth, Director of Sales at Telnyx, Tom Phelan, CTO & VP of Technology at Unified Office, and Jason Byrne, VP of Product and Marketing at netsapiens.
Key Takeaways From the Discussion
Although only 45-minutes, the discussion was packed with valuable insights that I’d like to relay back to you. Here is a brief overview with my key takeaways from the discussion:
- Automating the porting experience is huge and thought to become an increasingly powerful tool for MSPs to grow their business.
- Voice control is something we need to embrace, primarily because there’s great prioritization in user experience. Carriers will win based on an overall user and customer experience they provide, which centers around functions that enhance ease of use, like voice control and zero-touch provisioning.
- Robocalling is a huge issue and security concerns will drive innovation towards finding a better solution. The best solutions for enterprise at the time are databases and services like Nomorobo.
- Service delivery will separate the successful and unsuccessful UCaaS providers. This doesn’t just apply to initial tasks like porting, but also in clear communication about next steps, discussions with users about features and more.
- Tying different systems together with APIs and automation are the biggest trends we’ll see with leading carriers.
- On the topic of phone numbers, we are seeing a slow, gradual shift away from it and instead, towards other unique identifiers.
What Are Carriers Doing Now That’s Cool?
Radizeski opened the discussion with this question.
McClain Roth said, “I think one of the things that carriers are doing right now, which is pretty cool and sexy, is finding ways to turn the porting experience into its own digitized, automated process that you can kinda off-load onto your customers. Actually giving your customers the ability to upload their own invoices, upload their own LOAs, activate their own ports, trigger their own activations. I think that is something that as we get a little better, especially with some of the new regulations around local number portability becoming national number portability, is gonna get more and more powerful for MSPs to grow their businesses and avoid what is usually the biggest pain point in growing revenue.”
He explained that bringing in new numbers is at the core of growing your business revenue, which inevitably means going through porting. By automating the process, it doesn’t just make life easier for the carrier, but it also enhances the end user’s experience.
Eric Hernaez answered the question by speaking about APIs being huge when it comes to the next generation of carrier. Hernaez said, “You really have to look at Twilio, who has a lot of momentum and a lot of buzz about what they’re doing as sort of the next-generation of carrier. It’s all about APIs, being able to tie different systems together and pretty much automating all the things that used to have to be manual processes. So, that’s happening and we see almost every carrier to varying levels of success or degree going down that same road.”
Tom Phelan agreed with looking to Twilio as being a big player. He added, “I think there’s a big shift towards workstream collaboration, like file-sharing, conferencing, contact center…there’s a shift towards additional feature sets – just to touch on the Twilio aspect. Applications are coming on strong and 5G is coming. That’s going to enable them and start to drive a lot more innovation in our space, away from this traditional phone service that we know.”
It’s All About Building a Better User-Experience
Peter Radizeski moved forward with how other products and services, like Amazon Alexa and Workplace by Facebook, are becoming increasingly popular. He posed the question of how this increased popularity might affect how carriers operate in their own space – especially since these new services are tremendously user-friendly and have the advantage of familiarity most users are already accustomed to (ie Facebook).
In response, McClain Roth said, “I think one of the things that carriers are doing, and to Eric’s point, what Twilio kind of brought to the forefront is being more than just the transit layer or the IP layer, and trying to actually get into this application layer.”
Adding onto that point, Eric Hernaez said, “As APIs become more prevalent, anybody could be able to create an Alexa app that interacts with the phone system. At SkySwitch, we created an Alexa app two years ago that lets customers of our resellers place a phone call using their PBX account. And I’ve seen that many times since then with other carriers. But even beyond that, things like checking your bill or the status of your account…it’s starting to happen on the user-interface side when you’re talking about carriers that deal with end users.”