Adding a voice channel to Integration Platforms as a Service (IPaaS)
Business use integration to automate end to end process. Voice is the channel of choice for many customers. If you cannot integrate the voice channel your self-service and end-to-end process automation strategies will collide.
IPaaS provide the SaaS alternative to on premise ESB and middleware. They are a natural fit for integrating SaaS applicatoins. Examples include Zapier, IFTTT, Mulesoft, Dell Boomi
Most IPaaS have no support for the voice channel, i.e. telephony, a channel of choice for customers of all enterprises
Inference provides a no-code platform specialising in the voice channel and virtual agents. Inference virtual agents readily connect to IPaaS.
IPaaS and Inference together provide unique no-code and low-code solutions for enterprise to create automated self-service
Integration Platform as a Service (IPaaS) in the words of Gartner offer “development, execution and governance of integration flows connecting any combination of on premises and cloud-based processes, services, applications and data”. More simply, IPaaS provide the “as-a-service” alternative to on-premise enterprise services bus for connecting business applications. IPaaS is a natural fit for integrating other modern software-as-a-service applications, but also extend to on-premise apps. As a result, they are rapidly replacing the middleware glue technologies that enterprises have been using for the past decades to automate end-to-end processes.
IPaaS and real time customer contact
Most end-to-end processes within a business are triggered by customer contact. Voice is the channel of choice for many customers. If your goal is to provide both automation and self-service, it is critical that there is support for the voice channel. Suitable targets for end-to-end process automation of self-service in the voice channel include:
Claim, ticket or request status checks
Credit card payments for products or services
Customer reminders where confirmation of receipt is important (especially suited to text / SMS)
Extension of time requests for overdue payments
Booking appointments - for instance automative repair, medical or allied health appointments, financial advice consultation and so on
Gartner distinguishes “Consumer” and “Enterprise” IPaaS categories. In the Enterprise category, they include applications mostly intended for implementation by software developers and providing a direct replacement for on-premise enterprise service bus and other middleware. Their Enterprise IPaaS magic quadrant - available courtesy of Microsoft here includes the following, which we have reviewed (accurate as at 21 November 2018) for voice and text channel support.
Informatica - no voice or conversational text connectors
Dell Boomi - some support for Twilio limited to call initiation and text sending. No conversational management possible.
Workato - no voice or conversational SMS connectors
Jitterbit - no voice or conversational SMS connectors
SnapLogic - no voice or conversational SMS connectors.
Oracle Integration Cloud - no voice or conversational SMS connectors
Microsoft Azure Integration Services - send text messages via Skype and Twilio, and poll for text messages with Twilio.
Mulesoft Anypoint - send and poll for messages with Twilio.
Cloudpipes - can send be notified of calls, initiate calls and manipulate calls with BroadWorks providers but with no access to media; access some provider call recordings after the fact.
In summary - the majority enterprise IPaaS today offer little in the way of receiving, or even initiating, real time customer contact. We are not aware of any that can actually support direct real-time interaction with the customer during that contact.
Consumer IPaaS have started as oriented to “Citizen Developer” or business users. They are more commonly intended for direct use by business users to move data between applications and string business processes across multiple systems. Two leading examples are
IFTTT - strong integration to home virtual assistants, e.g. Amazon Alexa, Google Home, as well as a number of telephony integrations focused on call initiation and other call events. No automation of call handling.
Zapier - a large number of telephony and text integrations focused on call control and CTI, including notifications on incoming call, call completion, voicemail deposited etc. No automation of call handling.
In summary - while stronger in some ways, consumer IPaaS today offer little in the way of providing self-service call handling for real time customer contact.
IPaaS and Inference
When self-service is backed by end-to-end business process automation, your customers are delighted by 24x7 service that is swift and responsive.
Inference’s Studio product is focused on support of real time customer interactions via both voice and text. It’s no-code interface and open integration capabilities make it a natural adjunct for both enterprise and consumer IPaaS that offer no-code and low-code solutions. Quickly extend your end-to-end business process automation, and open up customer self-service via voice and text channels, no matter your IPaaS. To see how this can work with Zapier as an example, watch our webinar below.
Updates: 2018-11-21 - incorporated information on Cloudpipes after this came to my attention.