Messaging as a Platform: The Future of Brand Communications
Click here to download the slides from this seminar.
The Future Networks programme held a seminar titled Messaging as a Platform: The Future of Brand Communications at the inaugural MWC Americas event held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The session included guest speakers from across the entire messaging ecosystem including mobile operators, aggregators as well as a number of high-profile brands including Booking.com, MGM Resorts and BestBuy who discussed their approach to Rich Communication Services (RCS) and Messaging as a Platform (MaaP) and how it is disrupting and changing their business.
The session was led by David O’Byrne, IP Communications Project Director, who outlined the momentum and adoption in the market. He confirmed that “it is happening and it is real” and that to date there had been 50 RCS launches announced with 25 in the pipeline and with support across the board from operators, handset manufacturers, cloud service providers and aggregators. RCS now includes standard features such as group chat, read receipts, file share and other services that are expected by most consumers. It currently has 138 million users which is forecast to rise to 350 million by 2018 and then to over a billion by 2019 making it the biggest messaging platform in the world, “there are over 4 billion people on SMS we want all of them to be on RCS,” said O’Byrne.
Crucially there are also a number of cloud hub solutions available by companies including Google, Mavenir, Samsung, ZTE and others that are making mobile operator adoption a simple process. Dr. Petja Heimbach, Vice-President of Communication, Deutsche Telekom (DT) and Chair of the IPCET picked up this theme arguing that it is now incredibly easy for operators to deploy RCS which can be performed with ‘speed and simplicity’ and take no longer than 3 months from start to finish. He also recommended that operators ‘interconnect at launch’ to ensure the service is available across different networks and to provide an enhanced experience to subscribers. Google’s Head of RCS, Amir Sarhanghi, discussed how Google was helping OEMs and operators to launch RCS quickly and deliver a consistent experience across Android devices. He highlighted the “big gap when it comes to native integration and an opportunity to go beyond that with brands and businesses.” He described how different specifications across markets resulted in market fragmentation and in delays in launching new services.
A clear opportunity for both operators and brands is in the RCS Application-to-Person (A2P) or Messaging as a Platform (MaaP) space with the decline of P2P SMS messaging. This was forecast to be a $74 billion market, with O’Byrne arguing that “operators in order to protect and grow their messaging businesses need to adopt RCS and really engage with the brands”. RCS MaaP will enable brands to provide a richer experience and engage directly with customers from the messaging screen itself to offer services, provide customer care and complete delivery of services.
Mobile Operator Approach to RCS
Evan Feldman, Director, Innovation and Core Services at T-Mobile talked about T-Mobile’s approach to RCS saying that after launch in 2015 they now have 30 million active subscribers as well as native integration in their network. He talked about their work with RCS A2P saying that they are ‘committed to using aggregators to bring brands to the ecosystem and working on pilots to bring these capabilities on board.’ Sprint’s, VP, Product Development, Ryan Sullivan highlighted their move to a fully hosted RCS solution through their partnership with Google, describing it as a ‘turnkey solution with low to no cost’ that can be implemented quickly and is underpinned by GSMA’s global specifications. The Google RCS Hub also provides carrier interoperability.
Brands Focusing on RCS Opportunity
Derek Schoen, Director of Media Innovation, MGM Resorts International discussed how messaging was changing the customer experience at their Las Vegas Resorts, highlighting the clear cost savings and revenue generation of implementing RCS such as staffing efficiencies, upselling and the identification of high spend consumers. He described how RCS and the use of chatbots and AI could create a virtual concierge, that with the addition of contextual understanding, could provide a personal touch to the consumer experience and allow them to do things such as book rooms, make restaurants reservations, book tickets to shows or even order champagne for their room. Max van der Heijden, Product Owner, Booking.com continued this theme by describing how RCS and chatbots will help to give customers information such as check in dates and times, detail about the hotel including images and visuals about rooms and booking confirmations. Bill Worple, Senior Director, Marketing Technology and Operations, BestBuy described how Best Buy’s RCS-based services will let them interact with the customer to place and complete orders as well as create a branded experience that is an extension of the retail store. The service would also allow them to cross- or up-sell additional products or services, make payments, arrange appointments for in-house advisors to visit and receive notifications that items are ready to collect.
How to find out more:
- Speaker presentations are now available. To download the slides from this seminar, please click here.
- Operators, aggregators, marketing companies and brands are engaged with the GSMA through the GSMA’s A2P Future Messaging Labs. These Labs have been designed to bring together leading stakeholders in the messaging industry to discuss the operational and commercial requirements that will enable RCS to become an industry-leading A2P messaging platform. To register your interest, please click here.
- For more information on the Future Networks programme, including RCS, 4G evolution and 5G, please click here.