It’s a late, wet night in November, with temperatures 5 or 6 degrees above freezing…

You look up and down the street for a ride. Nothing. Walk to the street corner—still nothing. Push on to the High St – there’s a couple of cabs, and a couple of big groups roiling towards them. You pass.

Then, from the other end of the street and unnoticed, your best chance. You trot towards it, waving, while fishing in your pocket with the other hand for cash. Cold fingers spill coinage onto the wet pavement….

Does anyone else need a round of applause here (aside from you, obviously, for being all digital native).

Well, yes.

Wait - what?

It’s a late, wet night in November, with temperatures 5 or 6 degrees above freezing. You open your rideshare app, pick a ride from the map and book it. Seconds later, an SMS from the driver confirms they’re on their way. You stay warm, finishing your drink, and a text pops: I’m here. You click [ call ]: Okay, so I’m going to go out the door, turn right, away from the clubs and the crowds, and you’re opposite the theatre? Excellent.

Most of us will have done that. Nice work Uber, Ola, Green Tomato, whoever. But does anyone else need a round of applause here (aside from you, obviously, for being all digital native)? Well, yes.

Like so much else in the app-platform economy, there’s a big team play here. The rideshare platform is doing the matching and dispatching. The drivers are the transport providers. And in the middle, there’s a cloud communications platform quietly going about its anonymous, efficient business. And all three platforms have to perform at their best, for the overall experience to be excellent.


Let’s focus on the cloud communications enablement piece because that’s where Gamma delivers.


What you don’t get to see when you message or call the driver is some ‘virtual numbering or messaging’ or cloud communication magic- because they aren’t permanently associated with any line or device – mobile numbers. Using virtual numbers is a powerful way to protect your personal information and identity. Those virtual mobile numbers are also the gateway to the only messaging service that is both universal and needs no sign-up or app download – SMS. And finally, it’s always good to talk.

So although the big consumer brands hog the limelight, cloud communications platforms such as ours are fundamental to the platform economy. We stock and assign the virtual numbers, and manage them in use. We are the SMS engine. We complete the VoIP calls on behalf of the app. We’re an essential component in the sexy – and not so sexy – customer experiences that we all rely on: from ride shares to Maps, to parcel deliveries, to plain old customer service help desks. Pretty much anywhere online or in-app where you see [ call ] or [ message ] buttons, in fact.

In such a wide, innovative and colourful market, it’s a surprise to know that there’s a big grey area. The UK telecoms regulator Ofcom is sensitive to the rise in nuisance calls and identity spoofing and holds to a line that mobile telephone numbers should be identifiable with specific organisations or individuals. They view virtual numbers as flying in the face of that intention. This has resulted in a grey market for mobile numbers – which isn’t great for transparency either. We argue that virtual numbers can just as effectively hide the consumer from the spammer and that innovation and privacy need not be at loggerheads.

All said and done though, the next time you flag a ride, change your parcel delivery in flight, or book a tradesman, take a moment to thank the platform-behind-the-platform that provides you with added certainty, control and a sense of connection, without compromising your privacy.