Q&A with Matt Brown, VP of Product at Voxbone
Matt Brown, VP of Product at Voxbone talks to Capacity Media about the company's new Direct Business ‘full-stack’ voice offering.
1) Voxbone has announced you are repositioning the company for enterprise services. What exactly does this mean?
Simply put, our ‘full-stack’ voice offering streamlines and simplifies communication systems for enterprises and makes them easy to use at scale. Enterprises only need to connect once to our platform to have a single, domestic voice across our entire global footprint, all wrapped in a single easy-to-use interface.
The full-stack offering has the exact same capabilities as a national telecom operator like BT, but it's delivered on a cloud platform, which means it has the benefits of cloud-native tools like APIs, workflow automation, single-user interface, and is standardized across the entire globe - meaning you use it in exactly the same way whether you’re in Romania or India. The offering is already available in 33 countries, and we expect it to be over 40 countries by the start of next year!
2) What’s the background to this. How did Voxbone start out – and why have you changed?
Two years ago, we found ourselves in an interesting predicament - we were powering about 85% of unified communications (UCaas + CPaas platforms) out there. For the past 15 years or so this has been our traditional base market. Ultimately, to continue to grow, we were faced with the challenge of breaking further out of that commanding market share and into new territory.
We spotted an emerging trend of enterprises beginning to adopt the cloud more aggressively. Meanwhile, those enterprises that were cloud-native were looking for increased flexibility. That led us to identify and focus on what we saw as an opportunity in the enterprise space – to build a bespoke cloud platform which offered true flexibility. To meet this need, we’ve invested heavily into our ‘full-stack’ voice offering over the past two years.
3) How have you managed this evolution and repositioning?
The short answer is that we’re constantly managing this process. Initially, we were one of the only cloud-based VoIP companies out there, and providing wholesale voice infrastructure for companies like Zoom was one of the earliest examples of cloud adoption in the space.
However, as more and more companies have become familiar with cloud solutions, wholesale solutions became less attractive, while more flexible solutions became more attractive. So, the ‘full-stack offering’ was a natural next step for us. Uber, for example, were already using Voxbone via three of our wholesale partners. So it was an easy transition for them to partner with us and still plug into their favourite applications.
4) Are you maintaining the services for which Voxbone has been known for 14 years?
Absolutely. We think of ourselves as the Amazon Web Services of the comms space, because we provide the back end infrastructure that allows you to build your business. We are and have always been application-agnostic, meaning we don’t compete with providers. We simply provide the best SIP experience and the best tools to run, scale and operate voice networks and give your company the freedom to plug into any applications you want.
That is the core of what we currently do and will continue to do, and we couldn’t do that without maintaining our existing partners that have been with us from the beginning - we are absolutely invested in continuing to grow with these partners. For instance, we were one of Zoom’s first international VoIP partners and we’ve grown with them since the start of our relationship.
6) Can you explain what your Direct Business offer is, and how it works.
In essence, it is similar to what a major telecommunications provider like, say BT, would provide, but available across 40 countries, as of January, and via a single interface. You only need to connect once, and your business will get access to domestic telecoms in all of these markets.
Traditionally, enterprises would have to go to these countries and negotiate directly, which can be painful. It also requires equipment to be deployed and maintained in order to interconnect with all these countries. Voxbone, however, will get you up and running in 15 minutes, while we have a single point of connection and we offer true ‘pay as you go’ flexibility. This means there’s no contracts, no lock-in, and like AWS you can consume only what you want, while paying for it on demand.
7) Why do you operate in the cloud, and what advantages does that give you and your customers?
The massive advantage of the cloud is the ability to scale rapidly, and provide a unified service layer, wherever you are in the world. It makes enterprise communications simple, hassle-free and, most importantly, reliable.
8) How wide is your coverage of the global telecoms market?
We cover 93% of global GDP - so almost universal! GDP is the core metric we use because there are more difficult, larger countries, like China and Russia, where you won’t see coverage from many companies. We have found that vanity metrics like ‘number of countries’ can be misleading because there’s plenty of tiny island countries that don’t deliver much value for global enterprises and which they tend to avoid.
9) How do you keep up with ever-changing compliance issues and how important is that to your customers?
Compliance is an absolutely crucial and fundamental issue for business. And, in light of policies like GDPR, there are increasing concerns around reliability and compliance. If a communications provider fails to comply with local regulations, their services are at risk of being shut down. It’s the only way to guarantee a stable service in the long run.
We know what a big issue this is, so we take a ‘compliance first’ approach. As a result, we have the best service stability of any cloud player out there. We go about this by developing local expertise in legal requirements for every market that we operate in, and take proactive steps to ensure we are prepared for any regulatory changes. We’ve been talking about the importance of compliance since 2005 and we’re glad to see it become a topic that businesses are starting to pay attention to.
10) What do you mean by Bring Your Own Carrier (BYOC) and how is Voxbone implementing this service?
There are a number of industry trends that are converging at the moment - this has led to the BYOC paradigm. One of these is the regulatory tightening across Europe and Asia where regulators are cracking down on comms platform providers and forcing them to get licensed and become national operators. We’re finding that a lot of the platforms out there are software companies rather than telecoms providers – at their core. Inexperience in this area is a risk to their footprint. Unless they partner with us to continue to provide their services reliably. To avoid playing catch-up in the regulatory compliance space, we can quickly and simply open up their platform without the added complication.
On the supply-side, it makes sense for users to bring their own connectivity and offload the burden of compliance. While on the demand-side, customers like Uber are increasingly realising that they’re consuming the same SIP service through multiple vendors. This means they’re fragmenting their buying power and relying on different vendors – with different approaches – to service their continuity and compliance needs. This is a risk, especially when you start building comms as a critical path functionality within the service offering. It makes sense for them to ‘own’ their communications, and then plug them into best of breed applications in order to accomplish this.
Voxbone is at the forefront of this trend, with our application-agnostic approach. We already power a number of players out there who want to own the voice layer themselves to be able to come to us to integrate with their desired apps.