Short Messaging System (SMS) remains a key tool for reaching everyone with unmatched service guarantees and has a strong future, according to researchers at the World Telecoms Lab (WTL)
Although, the activities of Over-The-Top (OTT) content providers’ such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, are petering the revenue base of the telecommunication network providers and Value-Added Service (VAS), however, the researchers have projected that Telcos’ ability to function as the ‘gatekeepers’ will expose them to the next goldmine: SMS-as-a-Service (SMSaaS).
The WTL’s report backs claims that “OTT apps, for all their consumer popularity, are still marginal in the A2P space. Operators still dominate”, thus, SMS retains the aura as an important service and unlike popular forms of IP messaging, it is genuinely ubiquitous.
Simon Pearson, business development director, World Telecom Labs told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek that SMS has levels of service performance that are simply not available from common IP-based solutions, which are typically closed-user communities.
“So even while IP messaging has grown in popularity between individuals, there’s no getting away from the fact that SMS provides a means to reach everyone. In particular, it also helps businesses communicate more effectively with their customers. It’s the only way in which they can reach all mobile users in their markets.
“As such, SMS is a premium service. It offers a degree of trackability, reliability and service quality that is simply not available with other messaging solutions. This provides an unrivalled set of service guarantees, which form the foundation of enterprise partnerships. A messaging service provider with access to SS7 network infrastructure can offer a level of service to its business partners that is far beyond the best effort that might be attainable by another messaging platform.
“SMS provides a reassuringly comprehensive way to enable businesses to reach their customers, whether for the purposes of order acknowledgements, service updates or for promotional purposes. For different verticals, such as logistics, catering, tourism, banking, retail, and more, it is a secure, reliable channel to reach customers.
As such – and contrary to many expectations – while P2P SMS may be in decline, A2P SMS is growing. SMS services that are targeted towards the needs of businesses that need to keep in touch with their customers represent a growth opportunity and one that can help offset declining or stagnant voice margins. The great thing about SMS is that, unlike popular forms of IP messaging, it’s genuinely ubiquitous. If you have a mobile, then you can send and receive SMS to anyone else who has a mobile, regardless of the type of device or the generation of mobile technology it supports. Put simply,” the WTL report reads.
The report is also backed by comments by Jay Emmett, General manager, OpenMarket at the Mobile World Congress 2017 who reminded the telcos and industry experts that SMS is the only channel that is ubiquitous, immediate and universally understood.
“I don’t want a conversation with a bot,” he said. “I want to have a transaction. I don’t even like the word chat bot. I prefer ‘service bot’. If I have a car quote, that’s nine questions. That’s what I want. Not a conversation.”
Nodding in agreement David Vigar, Director of strategic carrier partnerships, Nexmo, said: “What will drive enterprise messaging is how they consumers interact with each other. So they might want to start a conversation on Twitter but then get reply somewhere else. It’s hard to do this without the context being lost, but that’s what we should be working on.”
Speaking on what telcos should focus on, Pearson told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek it implies “don’t get distracted by new, glamourous services with unproven revenue models and lose focus on something that works”. We believe there is a market for telcos and value-added operators to leverage their existing interconnects and subscriber bases.
“An operator can approach corporate customers (banks, airlines etc) and offer them packages that allow them to address their clients very directly. I have noticed that my local hospital, dentist and even the garage all send me SMS these days to remind me about appointments.
From the telco perspective access to this audience is valuable and they are kind of the only people that have it (they can be the ‘gatekeepers’ to the SMS world if you like)”.