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Flowroute Talks Collaboration, All About the API, ITEXPO

By Alicia Young
January 06, 2017

Putting the customer first is a surefire way to make your company stand out from the rest. No matter what industry a company is in, there are likely a dozen or so other businesses just like it offering the same products. Therefore, exceptional customer service is needed to sway consumers to your side.

To offer the best customer experience, companies need to have the best technology possible on hand so that demands can be met quickly and efficiently. That’s where companies like Flowroute come in to play. Flowroute is a provider of advanced communications services for SaaS companies. It works to provide communications experts with unparalleled performance, transparency, and control of their voice and messaging communications in order to transform the customer experience.

Flowroute enhances the customer experience by providing advanced voice and messaging capabilities to businesses and developers. It provides call control and transparency both online and through a REST API so that all telephony resources can be easily managed.

To gear up for the All About the API event, TMC caught up with Douglas Waller, Product Owner at Flowroute, to discuss these solutions. At Flowroute, Doug is involved in the full product lifecycle from early ideation and planning through to product launch and marketing. He will be taking part in a panel at the event titled “Panel: Common Mistakes to Avoid when Building your API.”

The full exchange can be seen below:

How have technology changes over the past 12 months helped businesses grow?

The technology powering communications – devices, networks, infrastructure and so on – has transformed the way we do business so dramatically over the last 12 months. More than ever we are seeing consumer expectations shift to require instantaneous, seamless communication with the brands they love. This, however, requires a paradigm shift for traditional telecom carriers.

Unfortunately, most traditional carriers are not able to support fast moving innovation because they're bogged down by legacy networks, outdated regulatory controls, and sheer organizational girth. This is where the cloud in combination with APIs has played a significant role in helping businesses and carriers alike deliver tailored customer experiences that scale on-demand.

What does the term Collaboration mean to your business?

Collaboration is the cornerstone of our company culture, so it goes well beyond just interacting with our internal teams on IM or Google Hangouts. We look at the complete ecosystem - our customers, our customers’ customers and our partners - to ensure we are delivering the utmost transparency and accessibility to information about their service. 

This has resulted in us creating Slack channels for specific customers to engage directly with our support, porting and product teams. This type of interaction provides us with a better understanding of what motivates our customers, and how we can jointly deliver positive outcomes. 

What elements of Unified Communications are most useful for your company?

The research doesn’t lie; the adoption of unified communications and collaboration is only going to grow. Our most used UC elements are presence and video conferencing. We are big fans of using presence via Slack as it allows our teams and customers to interact with one another in real-time and appear in always open rooms that we can jump in and out of as needed. The goal is for us to provide tools that enable internal teams and our customers a way to communicate through their preferred channel at any particular time.

Are you using messaging technologies to communicate with your customers?  How, or why not?

Yes, we engage with our customers and teammates through messaging applications like Slack and text messaging via Flowroute. According to a recent survey, 82 percent of respondents said they are overwhelmed with the amount of email they receive from businesses, and would prefer to have communication channels that are more relevant and timely - such as SMS. Companies of all sizes need to be thinking about how to expand their communication experiences to address the consumer's growing need for immediacy.

Are you leveraging big data/analytics to operate more efficiently?

Our organization relies heavily on big data to ensure we make informed, timely and effective decisions. As a cloud-based communications provider, we have to be able to consume and rationalize huge event streams and produce real-time insights to maintain the reliability and quality of services, to anticipate our customers’ evolving needs, and to manage complex accounting and regulatory requirements.

Being able to effectively use data internally has allowed us to better understand our customers and how they use our services. If there is any deviation from standard operations, we are able to flag those to ensure there isn’t a significant financial or operational impact for Flowroute or our customers.

How can artificial intelligence best be used in business applications?

By building machine learning intelligence we are able to build profiles of normal user behavior and quickly make adjustments if we see abnormal usage patterns. Telecom fraud costs the industry over $3B annually, which requires communications providers like us to be protectively monitoring user patterns with AI.

Content marketing has become a hot topic recently.  Have you defined a content marketing strategy and how has it helped you build your business?

Yes, content marketing is definitely a hot topic, and rightfully so. The reality is there is no “silver bullet” for content marketing. Successful content marketing starts with the realization that content is not just another campaign asset, but the means to start, and nurture business relationships with the goal of turning them into happy customers.

How have the growing number of high-visibility security breaches impacted your outlook on security?  Which breach is of greatest concern?

As an IP-based communications provider, we have invested a lot in expanding our fraud prevention capabilities. Understanding all of our customer’s usage patterns is at the core of us being able to detect if behavior has deviated. If any anomalous patterns emerge we can block it before it becomes a significant financial impact on the company or our customers.

Have you increased your investment in security technology in the past year?  Are you likely to increase your security spend in the next year?  Why or why not?

Yes, security is at the forefront of our minds all the time. There is a constant battle to keep data safe from hackers. With telecom fraud being such lucrative business for hackers, we need to find new ways to reduce the incentive for them to target our systems.

We will definitely continue to invest in security simply because security isn’t a milestone you hit, it needs to be invested in an ongoing basis.

To what extent are you leveraging APIs to enhance business opportunities?

APIs are at the core of our business with the goal of giving our customers direct access to telephony resources, like phone numbers, porting, routing and messaging through our API. It’s all about providing developers the easiest, most powerful way to add communications to their cloud-based applications.

What percentage of your workforce would you consider mobile?  What technology decisions have you made as a result of your mobile workforce, to ensure they have the tools they need to remain productive?

We have a fairly small percentage of our workforce that is mobile, but for those that are we have adopted a suite of persistent, always on tools, such as Slack and Appear.in to make it easy to connect whenever, wherever.

To what extent are you using cloud services in your daily business processes?

Nearly 100 percent of our business processes and services run in AWS.  Cloud communication solutions allow for the quick deployment, use, and takedown of services on an as-needed basis, which makes them the preferred option for many businesses. Additionally, the cloud provides us a lot of flexibility to quickly innovate our offerings based on customer input and market needs.

Has your use of cloud-based resources increased over the past year?  Do you expect to make more use of cloud computing in the coming year?  Please elaborate.

Prior to 2016, we were entirely dependent on geographically diverse, co-located data centers, which provided scalability challenges. By moving to the cloud we are able to scale our services and reach more effectively, and as previously mentioned quickly innovate and deploy new services.

How are you handling shadow IT in your business?

We rarely prescribe a specific tool, but rather encourage collaboration between teams to find tools that suit their specific needs. We routinely hold technology brown bags to share ideas on collaboration tools based on various use cases. This helps everyone in the company make more informed decisions about what will work best for their specific needs.

How has the growth in the managed services market impacted your business?

Flowroute is a managed service. With that being said, our goal is to enable our customers to focus on their expertise, and we focus on being an ingredient technology into their communication solution offerings. 

Is the cloud / MSP model a realistic one for reliable IT security?

Any new technology that exposes interfaces for connectivity and interactivity between network services is ultimately going to provide new attack vectors for would be hackers. However a great deal of work has been done to secure these interfaces, such as forcing HTTPS and the ability to whitelist IPs to ensure secure connectivity between various network services.

What emerging technology has the potential to have a disruptive impact on businesses in the coming years?

The advent of real-time streaming through chatbots as the ability to make an impact on our business in the years to come. By creating intelligent events, chatbots are likely to be able to respond to issues faster than a human could. What we are looking to do is design events to monitor web traffic to define when there are abnormal usage patterns, and have a bot proactively block the IPs to alleviate potential financial impacts from fraud.

How has your business’ product development evolved over the past year as a result of emerging technologies?

By utilizing UC tools like Slack, we have been able to bring our customers more deeply into the fold of our product roadmap and gain direct access to anyone within the company to provide feedback about the product or our service. This has helped our team better understand the requirements of our customers, and what would make their life easier.

Are channel partners keeping up with the latest trends and developments?  Is more education needed and how can they better leverage the latest technologies to grow?

The gap of knowledge is slowly closing as it relates to partners being willing to take an API and create something new. Some partners are always going to be resellers of your service, but fortunately we work with a number of very innovative partners to modernize the capabilities and delivery of their communications solution offerings.

What is your session at ITEXPO about and who should plan on attending?  Why should this be a must-attend session for the week?

We will be talking about the common mistakes developers make when building APIs. This is a must attend session because unfortunately developers aren’t very forgiving when it comes to poor functionality, or clumsy code. If you launch an API that doesn’t cut it, developers won’t be back to try it once you fix the bugs.

What are you most looking forward to at ITEXPO 2017?

The opportunity to hear from and talk to technology leaders about how they are approaching the cloud, customer experiences and APIs is of great interest to me. There are so many use cases in which cloud communications can drive great user experiences - being able to uncover a few partnership opportunities at the event would be a success in my book.

If you’d like to hear more from Douglas, head over to the All About the API event in Fort Lauderdale, FL, from Feb. 8-10. The event is being held in conjunction with ITEXPO, so don’t miss out on this great opportunity.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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