SMS and the Future of Messaging
Over the last two decades, SMS (Short Messaging Service) has blossomed into a dynamic and versatile business tool, facilitating not only intra-team and intra-company communications, but engagement with customers, consumers, and constituents, as well.
The reason for this is that SMS messaging is widely accessible and globally standardized. Not only is it among the most affordable ways to communicate, it’s also easy to use and natively supported by every mobile phone on the market.
And while innovations in over-the-top (OTT) messaging applications (WhatsApp, Viber, and Facebook Messenger, to name a few) and Rich Communication Service (RCS) offerings have consumed a piece of the person-to-person (P2P) SMS pie, there’s no indication that SMS is set to go the way of the dodo anytime soon. This is especially true for application-to-person (A2P) and person-to-application (P2A) messaging.
For their part, the folks over at Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) seem to concur. In a recent report, titled Future of Messaging Guide 2020, they explored the growth of business messaging, showcasing how messaging, and especially SMS, continues to evolve and enable better customer engagement.
In this article, we discuss some of MEF’s findings, and comment on the past, present, and future of messaging. We’ll cover:
- The state of SMS messaging
- OTT, RCS, and the not-too-distant future of enterprise messaging
- What this means for businesses
- How Pareteum fits into the equation
So, with that, let’s begin!
The state of SMS messaging
The first text message was sent in 1992, bearing the words “Merry Christmas.” But it wasn’t until the advent of the smartphone in the mid-to-late 2000s that text became essential to the way people communicate.
From a user perspective, it’s easy to see why. With touch screens and expanded keypads, smartphones were able to effectively deploy the QWERTY keyboard, thus liberating texters from the tedium of the T9 keypad that came standard on earlier mobile phones.
For businesses, however, the benefits of SMS were evident quite early. It facilitated better communications between employees and promised immense customer engagement potential. Indeed, some of SMS’s earliest successes were appointment reminders, order confirmations, and general promotional messaging.
As data plans have become more robust and communications technologies have become more sophisticated, so too has messaging established itself as a critical business tool. Case in point, according to the business messaging intelligence company Mobilesquared, businesses are on pace to send 2.8 trillion text messages to their customers in 2022 alone.
MEF postulates that the popularity of SMS messaging has to do with it being among the most democratic communications technologies. They note that SMS:
- Provides direct contact with anyone, anywhere, regardless of operator, operating system, or country.
- Does not require any training.
- Is asynchronous, meaning that the recipient of a text message is not required to read or respond to it immediately.
Moreover, to compare SMS with another popular messaging medium, MEF’s paper notes that a staggering 98 percent of people read text messages, while a mere 30 percent read emails.
OTT, RCS, and the not-too-distant future of enterprise messaging
Now, we briefly touched on this before, but one supposed threat to SMS messaging is the arrival of sophisticated OTT messaging applications and other Rich Communication Service (RCS) offerings. Products like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and iMessage take messaging a step further than SMS, enabling users to read receipts, share videos and images, initiate group chats, and more.
However, as popular as these functionalities may be, not all businesses are really interested in taking advantage of them; and, candidly, rich messaging simply lacks the global reach of SMS. For simple informational alerts, text messaging will suffice.
Still, it would be unwise for businesses to look past OTT and RCS offerings altogether — they are indeed promising communications technologies. Proponents of RCS believe it will eventually succeed SMS thanks to its ability to go beyond simple P2P text messaging. One example of this is that RCS leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). This means that human beings are not necessarily required to operate certain communications channels. As such, businesses can use RCS offerings to increase their customer engagement capacity.
What does this mean for businesses?
From a consumer perspective, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits all messaging solution. Some people prefer SMS, some email, and others use OTT solutions exclusively.
This has two primary implications for businesses:
- In order to reach as many people as possible, businesses ought to engage with consumers across multiple messaging channels.
- In order to take full advantage of each channel, they’ll need to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and strategize accordingly.
This second point is, perhaps, most critical. It’s not enough merely to engage with consumers on their preferred channels. When it comes to loyalty and designing successful messaging campaigns, great service is essential.
For this reason, many enterprise messaging solutions, like Pareteum Messaging, are heading in the multichannel direction. Unsurprisingly, multichannel solutions deliver engagement across multiple channels, including voice, SMS, email, and more. As such, they confer a variety of advantages upon enterprises, from the ability to deliver consistent messaging across every channel, to personalized customer experiences, and channel prioritization.
Where does Pareteum fit in all of this?
Pareteum Messaging, which you can read about here, is a programmable, multi-channel, two-way application-to-person (A2P) messaging offering. This means it enables organizations and businesses to communicate with their clients, consumers, and employees across SMS, email, voice, and more.
Of course, we’ve written about the SMS solution rather extensively. So, we highly recommend that you check out some of our older blog posts:
- Pareteum Messaging | SMS Engagement That Gets Results
- Crisis Management A Pareteum Messaging Success Story
- How SMS Can Help the Travel Industry Navigate the Age of Coronavirus
- Eight Ways SMS Messaging Can Improve Your Business