In today’s world, messaging is rapidly replacing phone calls to become the communication method of choice. Although Over The Top (OTT) messaging applications like WeChat, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are frequently used for instant communication in the C2C market, SMS will continue to be the dominant technology used for sending and receiving texts in the B2B and B2C markets. The reason is because SMS is available on all smartphones whereas the OTT apps must be downloaded before they can be used to send or receive a message. Additionally, messages can be sent and received by only those who have also downloaded the same app.
The success of business SMS is based on the fact that it reaches the vast majority of consumers, proactively in their moment of need, and doesn’t require the receiver to have downloaded and subscribed to a particular application. Furthermore recent studies drawn on show the potential for business across sectors such as banking, travel and transport, retail and healthcare to be enormous with growth of the Application to Person (A2P) market.
The Declining Need for Voice
As the business trend to use SMS over voice continues to increase, voice product and service providers will see their traditional market shrink or at the very least, stagnate. It is critical for these providers to figure out how they can operate in this new world of instant communication and not be left behind. An exciting technology, RestcommONE™ has recently entered the market making it possible for voice product and service providers to SMS-enable DID (Direct Inward Dial) numbers.
Using RestcommONE, an individual can send a SMS to a business phone number and receive a SMS in return. Providing customers with the ability to text to a phone number allows service providers to offer new products and services that deliver incredible value. Now voice product and service providers have an opportunity to thrive in this new world of real-time communication and not be left behind.
Future of SMS – The new “S” in Voise
New solutions like Uber and AirBnB are having a dramatic effect on the important role SMS plays within the real time communications market. SMS has risen to be the super highway for sending and receiving information in real-time. But SMS alone has not enabled Uber and AirBnB to create and launch their history making applications and services. They were built using a CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service) platform that handles all of the heavy lifting telecommunication services necessary to transport and guarantee SMS delivery – regardless of location or carrier. There is nothing stopping any voice product and service provider from implementing their own CPaaS and offer their existing and new customers added value applications that are based on SMS. Where SMS was something to be feared by voice product and service providers, it can and should now be embraced and leveraged to increase revenue and move into new markets.
A2P – A New and Very Lucrative Frontier
As stated above, A2P (application to person) is largely responsible for the explosion that is happening within the SMS market. A2P is expected to grow to 2.19 trillion messages and US$ 50 billion in revenue by 2018. This is due to the broad range of organizations, including SMB/SMEs and government bodies, capitalizing on its potential. Technology and service providers have discovered A2P to be an excellent and immediate way to personally connect with their customers on a number of topics. Campaigns ranking highest at the top for effectiveness include loyalty, win-back, appointment reminders and mobile exclusive deals and conversion by keyword.
As shown in the graph above, A2P is outpacing the growth of the P2P (Person to Person) market, which has been influenced positively by the OTT messaging applications.
SMS in the Call Center
Because it is now possible to SMS enable the PSTN, any 800 phone number can now be included in the registry and mapped to a traditional phone number to provide an improved user experience. An example where this capability would be high value is customer service and support. Most customers dread calling an 800 number for issue resolution. Instead, texting has become the desired method of communication. By SMS enabling an 800 number, customers avoid working their way through an IVR to get to where they need to be for quick resolution. Voice can be enabled at any time, in real time, when needed. Blending text with voice offers the best of both worlds. Customers can carry on a text conversation with the call center until the problem is clearly defined. Once defined, the text can be sent to a call center professional who finalizes the call. Maintaining conversation context prevents the caller from having to repeat information that has already been provided. Call Centers have a relationship in place with a service provider so they are SMS ready. SMS enabling existing call center infrastructure is a straightforward process that opens up new opportunities for service providers that have built a CPaaS offering.
BYO Mobile Device
Texting has become the highly desired method for B2B and B2C communications. Professionals tend to keep their business contacts on their mobile device because it is with them and available 24×7. But organizations have become concerned about SMS as a method of communication because it is happening outside of the company network. Even worse than SMS, OTT messaging applications not only takes place outside of the company network – they leave the service provider’s network as well. Further, when a professional leaves the company, with him goes all of his business contacts and conversations.
Offering the ability to add a business number to an employee’s mobile device makes it possible to separate work from private life. Professionals now use their business client for all business calls and text. The employer, not the employee, pays for fees associated with sending business SMS messages and the service provider stays connected to the organization. Further, the service provider can offer their customers the ability to customize the application with a branded look-and-feel along with added value services.
Integrating Chatbots – Let Real-Time Communication Begin!
Chatbots have hit the scene by storm, generating a lot of industry excitement and speculation over value. When integrated with SMS, chat bots bring SMS to a whole new level. Chatbots have the ability to carry on a conversation via SMS message on a specific topic. When tied to toll free numbers, a Chatbot can guide a conversation with a customer to uncover a problem at the very specific level they are experiencing. Once uncovered, the bot can either solve the customer’s problem or transfer the caller to a specialist for quick resolution.
Dumb Bots versus Smart Bots
Both Dumb and Smart bot technology offers a new capability to move SMS to new and amazing levels of functionality. To understand the difference between dumb and smart bots, consider the personal assistant bot:
The Dumb Bot intercepts a message conversation request while a professional is offline. Similar to voicemail, the bot answers the incoming conversation with a personalized message like “Hello Jeff, I am Nancy’s personal assistant. Nancy is unavailable at this time but she will get back to you as soon as she is available.” This historically has been a voicemail only capability. The bot now extends this capability to SMS messages as well.
The Smart Bot is able to become a full AI-based personal assistant. The smart bot is able to know and understand an individual’s calendar. Further, it can read email and documents and, thanks to machine learning, it learns from experience. Using the dumb bot example, the smart bot will not only answer a text message as a voicemail, it will actually interact with the individual to schedule a conversation on the recipient’s calendar. Now the conversation could be “Hello Jeff, I am Nancy’s personal bot assistant, how may I help you? Yes, I can schedule a meeting on behalf of Nancy, would Wednesday at 2:00 pm work for you?”
This smart bot continues the conversation until an acceptable day and time is found on the schedules for both parties. The business benefit from a Chatbot of this type is increased productivity by reducing human latency within business communication processes.
Unified Communications – Perhaps Too Unified?
UC (Unified Communications) and UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) became big business because of the high degree of productivity it brought to organizations. With UC/UCaaS, multiple modes of business communications are integrated within a single user experience. Collaborative capabilities include but are not limited to:
- Call control and multimodal communications
- Instant messaging
- Conferencing (audio, Web and video)
- Business process integration (BPI)
With all of this integrated collaboration that is provided by UC/UCaaS systems, why the need for SMS enablement? Put simply, to communicate with the world outside of the UC/UCaaS platform. In today’s business world, it is not uncommon for professional workers to communicate with their business constituents (customers, partners, vendors, etc.) through messaging (SMS). As effective as UC is at messaging to others inside the platform, it is equally ineffective for messaging others outside the platform.
The current solution to this problem is simple: business professionals use their personal mobile device for messaging outside of the UC platform. This is a terrible solution because business is being transacted off of the company network and contacts are being maintained outside of the company directory.
RestcommONE Message Exchange Unifies UC with the Outside World
The RestcommONE Message Exchange service seamlessly supports text messages to be sent to and received from individuals outside of the UC/UCaaS system. Unifying the UC/UCaaS environment with the outside world keeps business contacts in the company directory and conversations on the company network as it should be. No more using a personal device to send business messages. The Message Exchange service is included with the RestcommONE platform.
Push Notifications – Nice to Have But Not So Easy To Implement
A push notification is a message that pops up on a mobile device. Applications can push these messages at any time. The recipient does not have to be logged into the application to receive them. They are used generally by retail but are starting to add value to many vertical applications. Retail applications like sending push notifications for information like verifying a shopping cart, confirming a purchase and notification that a package has been shipped.
Push notifications look like SMS text messages and mobile alerts, but they only reach users who have installed the application on their mobile device. And each mobile platform has its own support for push notifications — iOS, Android, Fire OS, Windows and BlackBerry all have their own services. To cover all mobile devices the application must integrate with each service.
RestcommONE Push Notifications
RestcommONE offers iOS and Android WebRTC SDKs with built-in support for push notifications capabilities. We also have a well-documented REST API for push notifications and the back end services to send them to millions and millions of devices. Our latest iOS and Android WebRTC SDK sample applications include a lot of great user-oriented features like Apple CallKit, enhanced backgrounding support for Android Oreo, address book synchronization to the app, and more. This means you can now build a world class, modern mobile UC or OTT application using our WebRTC SDKs for iOS and Android. RestcommONE can provide the reliable back end REST APIs and push notification services for your next UC or OTT development.
The Challenge – How and Where to Start?
It is one thing to understand the problem and solution, and entirely another thing to make it happen. SMS enablement is an initial step after becoming a CPaaS provider. Implementing a full CPaaS offering requires a fair amount of knowledge and engineering skills in areas like SIP, SMPP, SS7, etc., which are arguably complex technologies. But the answer is straightforward – why not take advantage of the platform that is utilized today by most CPaaS players? RestcommONE is a comprehensive platform for building and deploying a robust and high performing CPaaS solution that will become the basis for building these new SMS revenue generating services.
Where it can easily take a service provider over a year to implement a CPaaS platform, Telestax, with RestcommONE, can CPaaS enable a service provider in as little as 8 weeks. Once enabled, service providers gain access to our RestcommONE Marketplace. The Marketplace offers a wide variety of in-demand CPaaS ready applications and services that are immediately available to be sold to service provider business customers. With RestcommONE, service providers now take back control and make money off of all traffic that travels on their network.
With over 5.3 million lines of code and 176% growth in community contribution over the previous year, the RestcommONE platform is mature and well established.
- A wide range of rest APIs that provide easy access to Restcomm Telecom Core functions
- Mobile WebRTC SDKs for both IOS and Android
- Visual design and collaboration (Olympus) tools that automate much of the coding when building Real-Time Communications applications
- All of the telecommunications technology needed to build a world-class CPaaS platform
- Carrier grade, scalable, fault tolerant
- Voice, Video, Message (WebRTC) in a single platform
- On premise, in the cloud, hybrid deployment
- Integrations with the major OTT messaging applications like WhatsApp, WeChat and Viber and social networking services like Facebook and Twitter
It is clear that SMS technology is not only here to stay, it is becoming a critical part of real time communications – both today and into the future. It will provide voice product and service providers and mobile product and service providers the opportunity to offer their customers additional services that will increase their revenues. SMS was once thought as a pure mobile – based technology that can now be thought of as a lifeline to voice product and service providers.