The mobile messaging landscape saw some big changes in 2016 and this evolution looks set to continue over the next 12 months.
One of the most notable shifts was in how the industry approaches A2P SMS, with operators around the world turned to the Business-as-a-Service (BaaS) model to take full advantage of huge revenue potential that’s available with this technology.
BaaS has not only given mobile operators the tools and expertise needed to take advantage of the A2P SMS opportunity that’s on the horizon, it’s also made it possible to target new verticals. Combined, this has led BaaS to reach new stages of maturity.
BaaS will also accelerate at a much faster pace than the year before with operators turning to mobile messaging specialists to handle their A2P SMS traffic, thereby accessing new revenue opportunities and making A2P SMS an integral part of their approach. In 2017, this type of business model will be the launchpad for new and expanded types of partnerships that will allow telecoms to offer new services to a wider variety of industry verticals.
IoT to drive SMS API integrations
IoT was one of the buzzwords of 2016. Yet, despite excitement around the potential this technology holds for the future, IoT also frequently made the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
In 2017, we can expect to see the professional SMS channel become the trusted delivery mechanism for many connected devices. Whether supporting mission-critical infrastructure for the industry, driving connected cities, or for IoT applications with high security requirements, such as connected health devices, SMS will become essential for prompt and secure message delivery.
Beyond this, SMS is already being used as a key delivery mechanism for all manner of consumer and industry facing use cases. From SMS alerts being sent to alert an owner their car battery is full to technicians being made aware of an equipment malfunction in the field, these examples are already wide ranging. Next year the potential for SMS APIs will grow even further, with the IoT driving demand for the integration of an SMS messaging component at various points in the ecosystem.
Banks and the enterprise vertical in general may already be utilising a number of messaging channels to communicate with their customers, but in 2017 businesses in industries like fashion, retail and automotive will likely have their eye on instant messaging apps. This year we will see many larger brands with digital-first audiences attempt to get even closer to their target consumer groups, looking into ways of adding a messaging app like WhatsApp or Viber to their customer service and communications strategies.
A2P messaging such as this offers a method of deeper, multimedia engagement between brand and consumer. However, moving from P2P to A2P communication via these apps will not prove easy. Instant messaging apps tend to be proprietary and only accessible to closed groups, creating a challenge for any brand wishing to communicate with consumers en masse.
This doesn’t mean the move will be an impossible one though. As with the increased adoption of SMS for A2P communications, brands wanting to succeed in this space should consider partnering with established business messaging providers, who have been developing the omnichannel communications capabilities for enterprise customers.
Bots for businesses
Chatbot technology, a topic high on the agenda of messaging industry in 2016, will continue to develop this year. Bot technology, powered by advances in machine learning and natural language processing, will offer an ever-more sophisticated and accurate means of communication, for sales support, customer service and other ecommerce-related functions.
With increasing availability and sophistication of APIs, enterprises will focus on employing more “intelligent” bots and integrate bot logic to not only improve customer engagement but better improve businesses efficiencies by automating processes.
Rather than operating as a standalone part of a business, businesses will also look to more closely integrate chatbots into an omnichannel messaging strategy; expect to witness the rise of ‘omnibots’ in 2017. Integrating different means of communication, such as instant messaging apps, SMS and push notifications, will give more control to the consumer and improve quality of experience, and increase the potential for swift communication between brand and consumer.
Silvio Kutic is the CEO of Infobip.