Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Silvio Kutic, founder and CEO of Infobip, looks at the evolving nature of mobile messaging and what this means for operators.
Let’s dispel the myth that in the past it was easier to reach consumers than it is today. It’s never been easy and there have always been complications, nuances, and best practices that make different approaches necessary at different times. One thing that has changed in recent years though is that this challenge has become less about finding what to say to whom and more about which channels, platforms, and devices best fit the audience in question. And it’s something mobile operators stand to benefit from as we look ahead to MWC next week.
Some years back, the concept of omnichannel for enterprise communications brought with it the idea of different channels and approaches working seamlessly through a single platform to drive customer engagement. This bears a lot of significance for the telecoms sector, too, as operators already have a foothold in this arena and have the potential to take this much further with a new approach. But before we can see what lies ahead, we must first consider where it all started with a trip down mobile messaging lane.
The foundations of mobile-enterprise communications
Since its launch in 1992, SMS technology has evolved from a service information channel into one of the most important business communication platforms. Its global popularity among mobile users has driven enterprises such as banks to integrate it in their customer communications strategies. Significant R&D efforts were needed to bring about integration with underlying enterprise systems, which in turn gave rise to specialised providers and their A2P SMS integration solutions.
As a result, A2P SMS has also become big business and its appeal for telecoms around the world keeps growing. The latest reports suggest the market is expected to top $70 billion by 2019, making enterprise SMS a channel that keeps on giving for mobile operators. Many operator groups have already tapped into the potential A2P messaging holds and are bridging the gap between what enterprises need in this area and what they can offer. But now, with the omnichannel paradigm emerging, much in the same way to how things started with A2P SMS all those years ago operators need to look ahead at what’s coming for the future of business-consumer mobile engagement.
This is especially important for discussions at MWC 2017, because consumer communications and habits have already changed. The simple combination of A2P SMS and email is no longer adequate for businesses trying to reach and engage their end users and build seamless customer journeys. From an enterprise standpoint, engagement strategies are pushed to include multiple channels, devices, failover scenarios and intelligent workflows.
Looking at this problem from the perspective of an enterprise or business, it’s easy to see that until now, they’ve been left to cobble together separate platforms, providers and solutions for any and all communications channels they use. From email to push notifications, from chat apps to SMS, and even for approaches like voice calls, a different technology has been needed for each.
Managing it is often a daunting task and finding one platform capable of combining them was very difficult, if not impossible. When you need features like CRM and business intelligence system sync, or centralised reporting and analytics, it’s easy to see why a single solution is perceived as essential for smooth running.
Telecoms in the omnichannel world
Now, though, operators are in the position to assume a more prominent role in helping enterprises address that challenge. We’ve seen this in the past with A2P SMS where many operators around the world were keen to monetise the revenue potential but didn’t have the infrastructure in place to manage the functionality themselves. In the same way that this led to operators working with specialist messaging providers to effectively outsource their A2P SMS requirements, the same will happen with the shift to omnichannel that’s going to take hold in 2017.
Omnichannel solutions can give operators the ability to go several steps beyond their traditional channels offering and serve their enterprise customers a new all-encompassing platform that combines messaging across several channels, user segmentation, and reporting to handle their campaign and engagement needs.
Emerging omnichannel platforms and models have tremendous potential to deepen the link between enterprises and mobile operators. They share a common user base of mobile subscribers and new avenues of cooperation are opening up for them in the rapidly growing area of customer communications and engagement. This is the world of omnichannel communications. And this is the world operators will be tapping into at this year’s MWC and beyond.
Silvio Kutic, founder and CEO of Infobip, earned a M.Sc. at the University of Zagreb Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing. Silvio took over as CEO in 2006. Since then, he has been the driving force behind Infobip’s rapid growth and the company’s strategic shift towards enterprise and MNO solutions.