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SMS for Business – It’s No Longer About Messages from You to Me | @ThingsExpo #IoT #M2M

Mobile messaging’s roots lie in P2P SMS. Once it was established, this was the one and only use case

Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone.  Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it.

Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty - mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and employee-facing communication. This is most notably done through application-to-person (A2P) messaging platforms that send things like appointment reminders, shipping alerts, IT status updates, to name a few.

Now a new form of mobile messaging is revolutionizing how businesses are interacting with and serving their customers throughout their entire journey - enterprise-to-person (E2P) messaging. An extension of A2P messaging, E2P allows businesses to reach and interact with customers in real-time, providing even more innovation and competitive differentiation for companies utilizing mobile messaging across their organizations.

Let's dive deeper into how mobile messaging has progressed over the years, and what business leaders can expect to see in the near future as it enhances how companies interact with their customers and employees.

Origins of Mobile Messaging (1992 - mid 2000s)
Mobile messaging's roots lie in P2P SMS. Once it was established, this was the one and only use case. Between 1992 and the mid-2000s, P2P SMS began booming, outshining traditional voice calling. Mobile carriers no longer offered just voice plans, but they began incorporating messaging capabilities into their plans as well. These capabilities, however, came at a high price point, as carriers charged customers on a per-message basis. Despite the high cost, P2P message growth continued. It was clear consumers valued the ease and simplicity of sending a text message.

The Hype of Mobile Messaging Expands (Mid 2000s - 2014)
By this time, mobile device adoption had skyrocketed. In fact, 83% of Americans in 2011 owned some kind of mobile phone. Additionally, two-thirds of us were already going to sleep beside our smartphones, and checking them first thing every morning. This drove text messaging to be one of the most popular forms of communication, especially among millennials. As the first generation to grow up in a mobile-first world, millennials were tech savvy, accustomed to immediate content, and were gradually working their way to dominating baby boomers in the marketplace. In order to accommodate this increasing demand for messaging, carriers began shifting their pricing models toward unlimited SMS for consumers.

Simultaneously, companies began to realize a shift in their customer base. This growing group of millennial consumers preferred mobile messaging, and businesses began to tailor their communication strategies accordingly. This was the birthplace of application-to-person (A2P) messaging, which is when a mobile message is sent from an application or platform directly to a mobile device by a business using short codes. These types of communication, which started with marketing messages and then expanded to include a variety of operational scenarios like shipping notifications, emergency alerts, customer account status updates, and appointment reminders, were all use cases focused on effectively reaching consumers quickly. For example, an online retailer could automate a text message to let you know when your purchase has been process, shipped, and delivered. Or, your hairdresser could text you before your appointment to confirm the time and location. These simple messages dramatically increased the quality of business-to-consumer communications while delivering a better customer experience in the process.

The Phoenix Rises from the Ashes (2015 & Beyond)
Today it's no secret that P2P messaging is on the decline in much of the world, as it's being replaced by over-the-top (OTT) chat applications. However, at the same time more and more businesses are realizing the value of communicating to customers via their mobile devices using texting. In fact, A2P mobile messaging is expected to be worth over $70 Billion by 2020, and has become an influential tool for both customer and employee facing uses across all aspects of an organization. The ability to reach all customers and employees easily is often the number one mobile-focused priority for businesses. SMS A2P allows them to accomplish this goal quickly, as 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of delivery.

Looking forward, businesses will further expand on the existing A2P capabilities and begin to embrace a broader range of use cases, particularly for customers. Enter E2P, a new era that will focus on boosting real-time customer communication to support text-enabled contact center services, employee messaging services, and more.

As businesses embrace E2P, they will begin to text-enable their toll-free numbers as well as their business landlines, and apply more two-way messaging use cases. For example, this could mean soliciting real-time customer feedback through surveys via SMS quickly following a proactive SMS service announcement sent from a text-enabled toll-free number. It could also mean enabling financial service advisors to offer business cards that say "text or call my landline" so they can respond quickly by making customers feel valued while simultaneously engaging with them on their preferred communications channel.

Sending two-way SMS confirmations to customers prior to service appointments is another way to use mobile messaging to give customers an easy way to cancel or request alternative times and drastically reducing no-shows. Text messaging can also be used internally to communicate more efficiently with employees. Whether it's an internal system outage, changes in work assignments, or an emergency notification alert, SMS improves critical employee communications, engagement and productivity. These types of E2P use cases, which leverage more than short codes, are just the tip of the iceberg as businesses begin to expand on traditional mobile messaging capabilities, and unlock new possibilities for the world's most reliable and ubiquitous messaging technology.

Given the explosive growth of the mobile-focused millennial generation, mobile messaging will still be the best channel for reaching both customers and employees. The widening gap between the different types of SMS messaging is allowing businesses to set themselves apart. As they gain more influence over the industry, carriers and mobile messaging providers will begin to mold their services accordingly, allowing for even more enterprise ROI. Looking beyond 2015, businesses will determine the future of the mobile messaging market, further establishing messaging's place into the modern enterprise.

More Stories By Tim Fujita-Yuhas

Tim Fujita-Yuhas currently serves as Director of Product Management & New Product Strategy for OpenMarket’s Mobile Engagement Platform, specializing in enterprise mobile engagement services. He is responsible for product strategy and business planning for the company’s mobile messaging solutions. He blogs regularly on mobile engagement topics.

Prior to joining OpenMarket, Tim held a variety of Product Management positions focused on voice, video and mobile communications, and SaaS technologies. While at Varolii (acquired by Nuance in 2013), he was responsible for the company’s cross-channel platform, APIs, and developed their mobile app with push notification service. While at Cisco’s Unified Communications (UC) Business Unit, Tim managed their industry leading UC products. Tim graduated from Boston University with a Masters in Software Systems Engineering.

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