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By Pieter Streicher, managing director of BulkSMS.com. Uploaded on: 04 June 2012.
Companies should be careful of buying into the doomsday predictions around the demise of SMS. If they do they will risk missing out on the excellent business opportunities that the SMS channel offers them.
There is no doubt that person-to-person (P2P) messaging has been impacted by
the rise in popularity of mobile instant messaging (MIM), particularly
iMessage, BlackBerry Messenger, WhatsApp and Mxit. While these MIM applications
offer a far cheaper way of communicating between individuals, these messaging
technologies do not provide business-ready applications to communicate with
staff, suppliers, customers, or consumers. This is where application-to-person
(A2P) SMS messaging becomes an important investment for businesses today.
It is in the A2P messaging space where the real opportunities for companies
lie, and where we are likely to continue to see growth in SMS business
communications. The ubiquity of SMS as a mobile communication channel, its
ability to verify mobile numbers on registration for a service, its use for
one-time-passwords, and its value as an alert mechanism will ensure its
longevity in the market.
When building business applications it is beneficial to use open standards
where possible as opposed to closed proprietary services offered by individual
companies. SMS is an open standard adopted by all mobile operators and all
phone manufacturers worldwide. This is unlike most P2P messaging channels such
as BBM, iMessage, WhatsApp and Mxit which are all proprietary messaging
services run by individual companies. If any of these companies fail, the
messaging solution will disappear as well. In contrast, any number of mobile
operators could fail, and SMS would continue.
One of the biggest growth areas for A2P messaging currently is in the use of
SMS with smartphone applications or mobi sites. For most services on the fixed
internet you have to register and create a username and password. Eventually
you will end up with multiple usernames and passwords for multiple services.
With smartphones and SMS this is avoided. Your phone number is your
â€œidentityâ€, and this can be verified by SMS. Viber, a mobile VOIP service
launched in late 2010, used phone numbers as the identity of users and as a
means to verify users, and quickly rivalled the more established Skype, which
works with a username and password.
Other applications of SMS include the use of SMS to trigger a remote event.
This can offer both a cost saving and a public service. For example, in some
German towns, SMS is used to control streetlights to conserve electricity
costs. The streetlights are off by default, but if you need to walk home at
night, you simply send an SMS to the utility provider to turn on the
streetlights for 15 minutes.
Another innovative SMS service is offered by www.supalocal.com which uses SMS
technology to manage queues. Instead of waiting in a queue for hours, you
simply register for the queue via SMS, continue with your daily tasks, and you
will be alerted via SMS 10-30 minutes before it is your turn. This virtual
queuing solution could be particularly beneficial for government services, such
as Home Affairs or SARS, where one can end up queuing for many hours.
So, with A2P messaging used for business communications, SMS is clearly far
from a dying, legacy technology. Once companies stop thinking in a PC-based
internet way and start looking at the mobile eco-system in its entirety,
opportunities abound for businesses to communicate better and offer improved
services to their customers via SMS.