Podcast: UCaaS vs. CCaaS vs. CPaaS

In this episode of TNC’s Down The Wire Podcast TNC’s CTO, Craig Northveth, discusses how and why UCaaS, CCaaS and CPaaS are beginning to have a huge impact on the telecoms market with TNC’s Principal Consultant, Clare Tyndall.

The ‘as a service’ communications topics covered by Craig and Clare include:

  • What the core principles of UCaaS, CCaaS, CPaaS are
  • Why it is such a hot topic now
  • Drill down into the Contact Centre solutions
  • Unified Communications market overview
  • Buying behaviours of large, UK based organisations

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Craig 0:04

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another episode of TNC’s “Down the Wire” podcast. As some of you may know by now, my name is Craig Northveth. I’m the CTO at The Network Collective, and I’m going to be your host for the next 20 or so minutes. I’m delighted to be joined today by my colleague Clare Tyndall, who is one of TNC’s Principal Consultants – Clare, would you like to take a quick minute to introduce yourself?

Clare 0:25

Yeah, hi Craig. I’m Clare Tyndall, a Principal Consultant at The Network Collective as you’ve just said. I’ve been at TNC 11 years, and prior to that I was about a dozen years in telecoms on the Account Management side of things. So at TNC, I work with some of our biggest customers in terms of the strategy for voice, networking, mobile, and in particular have been involved with quite a number of these types of services that we’re going to discuss today and the strategy for those. So looking forward to chatting about it.

Craig 0:58

Excellent. It’s great to have you on, Clare. I think this is your first time is it, on Down the Wire podcast…?

Clare 1:02

…It is…

Craig 1:03

Welcome to the podcast. Okay, so before we get into the topic today, I just want to really quickly remind everybody about TNC and our key credentials, so TNC – What do we do? So we are the UK’s largest independent telecoms professional service consultancy. We support just over 280 major UK multinational organisations, deliver effectively a full lifecycle of strategy, sourcing, deployment, in-life managed services, things like billing management, vendor management, in-life management, and service management – all types of Network and Telecoms services. So yeah, if if you’ve got any services to do with telecoms, we’re the guys.

So I guess then, without further ado, Clare: today’s topic, “UCaaS versus CCaaS versus CPaaS”, easy enough for me to say! But these are these are kind of, you know, words that we’re hearing a lot from our customers. And I guess the underlying solutions that these acronyms represent, are starting to have a huge impact on the market, and the strategy and sourcing processes that we’re running – so I guess you know, let’s start with the basics. In a nutshell, I guess, what are these things? What are the core principles of UCaaS, CCaaS, and CPaaS?

Clare 2:21

Okay so first of all, let’s demystify the acronyms. So we’re talking about UCaaS: Unified Comms as a Service. That’s typically the way of communicating many of us have become very used to over the past year in particular. So, like we’re doing now: video calling, voice calling, sharing of documentation, and a unified communications platform that typically sits within the Cloud. So that’s the “as a Service” part. CCaaS – Contact Centre as a Service. That’s obviously – traditionally with a contact centre, people might have thought about banks of people in headsets; there ready to answer your calls. These days, it’s a great deal more sophisticated, in how customers are being served. So it’s more ways of contacting your client base, and again ‘in the Cloud’, typically subscription based, with far richer features than we would have seen in the past – you know, it goes way beyond call forwarding, call recording, etc, etc. Now, we’ll come on to those types of features later on today. And then CPaaS is Communication Platform as a Service, and that’s really the complete toolkit of being able to combine those areas and those channels and ways of communicating both internally and externally with your customers. It’s a very flexible, and agile way of approaching the solution and might give you the richest set of features in terms of that communication. So in a nutshell, across those three sets of acronyms, we’re talking about ways to communicate essentially, and largely based in the Cloud.

Craig 4:07

Yeah, I was gonna say for me, I think the commonality there is these are Cloud based services, they’re kind of following “As a Service” model and they can’t only be seen from a from an application or compute point of view: this is a communication service, which is effectively an application that’s been now elevated into the Cloud and consumed as a subscription service, which is great from the flexibility point, and something that’s really, really good. I guess you touched on a couple of points there around the way we’re communicating now, the way we’ve been communicating over the last year or so; is that the only reason why this is a hot topic now? Or are there other things in the mix that’s kind of driving people to move some of these traditional “on prem” type services out into the Cloud? What are the key drivers on this?

Clare 4:52

Ah yes, there’s a whole range of reasons why this is now becoming a hot topic. So, the needs of customers – and this is widely across the demographic base – are rapidly shifting at the moment. Customers want to be able to have the complete customer journey – their end to end experience – to be easy and seamless with organisations, and organisations really recognise this, and recognise that in order to get the greatest leverage from their customer relationships, and the most competitive advantage, they need to be addressing this. So the customer needs and rapidly changing patterns of how customers want to engage with organisations is probably the biggest key driver driver with this; it needs to be about all types of channels: phone, video, chat, email, social media platforms, – and then that customer journey might need to travel between the back office and the front office and the contact centre – so it needs to be really flexible, agile service. If you’re going to be putting all that important customer engagement onto a single platform, and go into one of these ‘as a Service’, it needs to have operational resilience as well. So that’s another factor that ‘as a Service’ type solutions can really address, that’s another key driver, and organisations within the marketplace that deal in these services – and some of the more traditional telecoms companies – are really recognising the drive and the need for these services. So that competitive UK landscape when it comes to these ways of communicating, is another factor that means we’ve got a real revolution in terms of the types of solutions that are available, the price points that they’re coming at, the features that are inherent within them. It’s a really exciting time in terms of the market conditions.

Craig 6:50

I guess, I mean, it’s really interesting stuff Clare. I think, maybe some other external factors like the demographic now, and the way people communicate using smartphones, and obviously the expectations as well, of consumers these days to be able to interact and engage with customers through different methods. So that kind of digital engagement piece, not necessarily just coming directly in through the telephone channel, but being able to interact through Twitter, or Facebook, or Messenger – the demographic is driving that I think. And maybe the under-consumerisation of some of this IT is also maybe changing the approach organisations need, to consume or provide these services for their customer base. Is that kind of what we’re seeing?

Clare 7:33

Yeah, that’s definitely what we’re seeing. I mean,we’re not going to get into the details of this today, but we’ve seen some really interesting shifts in terms of the percentages of customer interactions that used to be by phones that are now occurring, via chat, or via social media – and there’s an increasingly a push by organisations to try and ensure that customers are doing more self-serve, more digital engagement – because that’s a far more efficient model, and can often be an enhanced experience for the customer as well. So that digital engagement is also really driving the change in customer behaviour. It’s in turn, driving the changes within the marketplace. And it’s all too easy to see how that digital engagement is increasingly going to bring things like AI into the mix and that’s going to be the next big growth area in this space. So it’s a really exciting time.

Craig 8:32

So I guess when we’re particularly focusing on the ‘as a Service’ site capabilities, in comparison to maybe some of the traditional, even legacy type platforms around, if we’ve worked on contact centre, when we do talk about these alternative channels, the ‘as a Service’ model, effectively, the entry into being able to trial and test these channels is much easier than how it would be in a traditional model, where it’s fairly infrastructure led, quite costly to add things like web chat or social interaction, whereas if you’re getting an ‘as a Service’ model, it’s – ‘we’ll subscribe to that service, we’ll test out, we’ll see how it goes. And if it’s no good, we’ll take it back out again. Is that again, is that is that the kind of the model why we are seeing an attraction towards a service?

Clare 9:16

Yeah, I think so. You’ve hit the nail on the head there, I think really Craig, in terms of the fact that it’s an incredibly agile and flexible way of deploying these services. So we quite often see customers approaching this in a very modular way and perhaps going in initially, exactly as you said, to sort of trialling this on certain campaigns maybe even, or for certain sections of the company, and maybe even first initially on an internal Help Desk and then to external customer communications, adding social media and chat bots where they where they might start first of all with messaging for example, and you can build these things up gradually. It’s potentially a very flexible way of approaching it, and a far more agile way of approaching it than having, you know, a big investment in equipment that’s sitting ‘on-prem’ needing to be updated, and so forth. It’s a completely different way of approaching it.

Craig 10:21

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Okay, well, let’s stay on the topic of the contact centre for now, and look at the ‘as a Service’ models there. So we talked about CCaaS and we’ve talked about CPaaS – obviously, there’s some differences there. Do you want to give us a little bit more insight into what are the key differences between those two variations, and then I guess the commonalities in terms of the – let’s call them ‘modern contact centre capabilities’, – what we see in these platforms effectively, what do these platforms bring to the customer, effectively?

Clare 10:55

Okay, so ‘Contact Centre, as a Service’: we’ve touched on some of these things already. ‘Contact Centre, as a Service’ is generally procured and used by companies by going with one organisation that’s delivering all their contact centre needs – so they’re delivering those needs from the Cloud, as we’ve discussed, and that’s going to cover things like interaction with their CRM tools, (as we’ve talked about) Social Media, Chat, being able to track the customer journey, it’s going to have nice things like supervisor capability in order to track the agent, it’s going to have workforce management – so it’s going to be a total service for managing your contact centre – and it will have a lot of customer experience elements rolled into it, and you’ll be engaging with a particular contact centre as a service provider, and that’s how it would work.

I think the next step on from that is ‘CPaaS’, the ‘Communications Platform as a Service’ that we’ve talked about. We described that as a toolkit or sort of ‘pure play’ type of service before, that might be where an organisation wants to get more ‘hands on’ with how it programmes, how it makes its approach to – we use the term omni channel a lot when we talk about ‘Contact Centre as a Service’ and ‘CPaaS’ – so it’s about being able to programme and modify the service to really fit the customer needs. So yeah, a very programmable and flexible model when it comes to ‘CPaaS’, as opposed to the total service solution that is ‘Contact Centre as a Service’. Hopefully, that helps clear that up?

Craig 13:03

Yeah, I think that’s good. I mean, I always kind of think of these things as ‘CCaaS’ is like a package type of solution, so you select what you want from the menu, and you effectively take it as a package from a single service provider, whereas ‘CPaaS’, as you mentioned, has more of a toolkit type of capability and you usually need to have your own development team, and you kind of bespoke it to your needs. So it could be one component, like a Web Chat Bot, or it could be an outbound dialer and effectively integrate into some other platforms, and the difference between the two is obviously one’s more flexible in terms of how you use it and consume it. Whereas the other is more of a litraditional sort of contracted service. where it’s packaged, and you take the whole set of capabilities into it against a single contract. Yes, that’s, that’s really interesting.

Clare 13:52

And I think, while we’re talking about contact centre, and we mentioned the omni-channel, and we also mentioned about knitting the various capabilities together, it’s probably just worth spending a moment so that people understand that there’s various ways of interacting and knitting these channels together. Quite often, we have clients that have multiple channels, and ways of communicating with their customers. So email will be separate from a messaging system, which might be separate from the voice recording system, which might be separate from app development… And then we have customers that are starting to pull those channels together, and then they’re having that sort of multi channel experience where the data might interact between those various different channels and so they start to get some kind of an idea. Where you find customers are trying to get themselves into the space, is omni channel, where there’s total data integration, there’s a real understanding of the customer. And really, as you consider these different models: CCaaS, CPaaS – how much you integrate them – the more you can move towards that integrated omnichannel model where all your channels are working together, where you’ve got that customer data, and tracking it through the whole system, all the ordinals and ways of interacting, to achieve the Holy Grail of understanding for particularly our retail customers, but all types of organisations in fact – our higher education customers, our public sector customers – there’s no type of organisation that doesn’t want that deeply knitted understanding of the customer journey, and the data that’s contained within that.

Craig 15:36

Thanks for that Clare, that’s a really good overview. I think that’s particularly the difference between multiple channel, and multi channel. There’s a lot of misconception from our customer base, and across the market, around the difference between those two. So it’s really good to hear that.

Okay, let’s let’s move on – I’m conscious of time – so we’ve talked a lot about contact centres, let’s talk a little bit about ‘Unified Comms as a Service’, and what we’re seeing in the market here are the, I think we see two key approaches don’t we? So I won’t spoil it for you, I’ll let you crack on and talk through that.

Clare 16:11

Yeah, that’s fine. I think that probably quite a lot of people in this crisis went for the two key approaches here. It’s impossible to mention ‘Unified Comms (‘UCaaS’) as a Service’, without mentioning MS Teams. Obviously, the Microsoft product then, as part of the Microsoft suite, is the biggest player that we see in terms of enterprise business, and that’s obviously a massive factor. Within the marketplace, we’ve recently seen Microsoft release API’s for Teams so that Contact Centre can increasingly integrate with Teams. And the more that we can see a native capability connected with Teams, the more interesting that whole area is going to be in terms of providing a service that our clients are already familiar with, and that they can use and maybe integrate it into other services as they come along. So obviously Teams is massive part of the ‘UCaaS’ marketplace, but it’s not the only player. There’s a lot of – we term them ‘Pure Play’ solutions. One of which I’m sure many people have become familiar with over the past year – the incredible story Zoom, increasingly seen again, in the enterprise business space, but a number of other players as well, such as RingCentral, 8×8, and various others. So this capability to be able to video meet, chat, etcetera, that communications platform space is also really interesting.

Craig 18:03

I think it’s kind of circling back to the reasons for change around this. Obviously, Teams across much of our customer base, is being rolled out, it has highly penetrated, and people are using it for internal calling but I guess now we are extending out to look at -well, in this new world of hybrid working, where people still potentially to make calls externally or interface externally to other organisations, Teams, potentially is a driver for that. But then taking into account that there are other services out there, which can either stand natively, stand alone, or increasingly can integrate integrate with Teams as well, I think that’s a really interesting thing to watch over the next year or two; to see what happens to some of those traditional services as well, – the ‘on prem’ PBXs and things like that will probably start disappearing, I would think. Okay, but I’m very conscious of time, so we do need to kind of get to the last topic, which is: So what do we do next? You know, what are our customers doing about this? What approaches are they taking to really understand what they need to do around this whole ‘as a Service’ type capability?

Clare 19:07

Yeah, absolutely. So in common with a lot of other areas of telecom strategy, you need to understand your requirements. So in this case, you need to understand your customer’s requirements and how you generally approach the customer. So we’ve talked a lot already about the sort of channels that you want to use to approach your customer, and how you want to get insights and data about your customer… that insight and that data analysis as to how your customer is behaving, and the customer journey, you increasingly want to assist them with self serve, etc. So understanding your strategy in that place, and how you want to interact, where you are currently with with those channels, and how you want to use them in the future, what requirements you have – that is essential. And then you’ll start to think about how advanced you are in terms of: Do you want to go through a ‘CPaaS’ strategy? Do you want to engage with ‘CCaaS’ and do you have the needs for ‘Contact Centre as a Service’, etc, that will lead you to how you’re going to integrate your channels together, and the approach you’re going to use. And then it will be about your people and processes internally, the types of operating model that you want to use for this. So understanding all of those requirements, where you are in terms of your customer interaction channels, where you want to be, those are the those are the starting blocks, really, in order to get you underway with really coming up with the best solution for this, because it’s a really exciting time, (as we talked about) in the marketplace for these types of solutions. Then taking those next steps are going to put you in the best place to be ready for it.

Craig 20:45

That’s great Clare. Thank you very much. We have unfortunately run out of time. I know we could talk about this stuff for a lot longer. And I’m sure we will do in future episodes of the podcast. But yeah, thank you very much for your interesting insights. Very, very good. And yeah, thank you everyone, for listening. And please do let us know if there’s any questions that you’ve got about this, or any other topics. And you can obviously get in touch with us through the website, or any of the social channels that we are available on and we look forward to talking to you again soon. Thank you ver

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