MWC Q&A: Patrick Malatack, VP Product, Twilio

Building the future of communications

Twilio have been creating waves in the telecoms industry for several years now. They enable developers to build intelligent communications services into their apps and software on a pay as you go basis. Ahead of Mobile World Congress, we met with their Vice President of Product, Patrick Malatack to find out more.

You’re often named one of the ‘most innovative’ or ‘most disruptive’ tech companies. What’s been your biggest win in the last 12 months?

Enterprise adoption is really gaining momentum. Over the last 12 months, more and more enterprises are looking to harness the same agility as the younger, smaller companies who can operate without the burden of legacy systems. Look at ING bank: they just decided to discard 17 legacy call centre solutions in favour of a single solution their developers are building using the Twilio APIs. And they’re deploying it iteratively, one sprint at a time. We believe it’s crucial to equip enterprises like ING, Capital One and Morgan Stanley, among others, with the tools they need to innovate, which is why we’ve taken steps to release new services such as Twilio Interconnect and the Twilio Enterprise Plan, and sought and achieved ISO-27001 certification to reinforce trust in our platform.

Tell us about Voice Insights?

One of the most important elements of voice communications is ensuring call quality. Businesses have to deal with a number of factors: underpowered user devices, bad headset connections, or network congestion, for example. Unless a company has spent the time and money on building their own performance sensors, it can be frustrating to figure out how the network and device is behaving during a call – let alone make real-time adjustments. That’s why we developed Twilio Voice Insights, a tool that gives developers detailed call quality metrics and actionable insights that they can use to instrument the best call quality for network and device conditions – at any moment.

Tell us about what you’re doing at MWC 2017, what can booth visitors expect?

This year is all about Build or Die. The only way to compete in today’s technology marketplace is to harness the power of software to rapidly iterate and innovate. At Twilio, we’re software people. We believe in leveraging composable building blocks to solve real problems, and our CEO Jeff Lawson’s MWC keynote, March 1 at 4PM, will cover exactly that. We’re also happy to return to MWC as it’s a great time for us to connect with our global customer base and the carriers who continue broadening the reach of our Super Network. Visitors can learn more at our booths, which are located in Hall 8 at Stand 8.0B32MR, or in the App Planet (Hall 8.1) at Stand 8.1H51.

You’re working with wireless operators all over the world, how is the telecoms market reacting to Twilio?

As you mention, we work with carriers all over the world, and in fact, most of our services aren’t over the top. Our PSTN products, such as Twilio Voice, SMS and Video, are interconnected with carriers of the world through our Super Network, a software layer that spans 7 continents and 22 data centres. As Twilio’s customers grow, so does our network and every time the network grows, it becomes more intelligent and more efficient. Since Twilio can reach nearly every phone on the planet, we’re actually helping to drive traffic to the telecom networks around the globe with the apps that developers and businesses build on our platform.

How are Twilio’s products being implemented in emerging economies?

With Twilio’s accessible, pay-as-you-go model, the cost of innovation is cheap, freeing developers to rapidly experiment and deploy amazing communications apps that solve real problems all over the world. For example, Trek Medics is an organization looking to bring emergency communications to developing countries that lack infrastructure. Using Twilio SMS, Trek Medics can help citizens in countries like the Dominican Republic by providing 911-style interfaces through a simple text message. Even in Africa, startups such as Nigerian-based Modo are solving the problem of limited access to healthcare by leveraging the power of Twilio Video to connect US doctors with Nigerian citizens. And all over Latin America, e-commerce giant Mercado Libre relies on Twilio’s Authy 2FA service to secure their users against cyber criminals.

Do you feel there’s a disconnect between brands and the way consumers want to interact with them?

There’s definitely a disconnect, but that gap is closing as more and more brands embrace the composable communications building blocks that empower them to serve their customers in the way they want to be reached. On-demand services such as AirBnB, Lyft and Uber have already revolutionized the way we interact with a service, and companies like Nike and Netflix are tapping the power of messaging to reach their customers. Businesses who are adapting to meet customer expectations will survive. Those that can’t adapt quickly, will not. It’s our job to educate companies on how Twilio can help them be one of the companies in the former category.

How can a business get started with Twilio?

At Twilio, we believe experimentation is the prerequisite for innovation. We built the Twilio platform so that nearly anyone can get started and build an app in an afternoon, at practically no cost. We’re seeing a lot of businesses, especially large enterprises, approach Twilio the same way. They pick one or two projects, pilot them out, and once they’re familiar with the platform they start looking other ways to integrate more capabilities or scale their solution globally. ING Bank is a great example of this. They started with internal hackathons and prototypes until they had a contact center solution they were comfortable deploying. Now they’re rolling it out to various arms of the organization, one sprint at a time. But for anyone, developer or business, the first step is simply visiting and creating an account.  We can’t wait to see what they build.