Like the consumer transition, the rise of iPhone and cheaper Android mobile handsets changed everything and shifted the dominance away from enterprise messaging devices such as BlackBerry to all-purpose consumer phones in second generation of enterprise mobile messaging, Employees often purchased their own phones and companies scrambled to implement Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) programs so employees could access business email on those devices. Also, notable during this phase was the rise of push messaging supported by the IP based platforms, we now know as APNS (from Apple) and GCM (from Google).
Push messaging gave companies and developers a new way to send large numbers of messages to apps running on mobile devices. This was a good way to send marketing and promotional offers to all their consumers, to encourage them to open an app or take action. In some industries, companies also shifted to push messaging for alerts as an alternative to SMS. Unlike the consumer transition in which the move from SMS to IP messaging apps provided a good substitute, the enterprise transition from SMS to IP-messaging was only partial. Enterprises shifting from BlackBerry, frequently elected to pursue ActiveSync based technology on BYOD smartphones. However, push messaging was predominantly used for one-way promotions and alerts. There was no common mechanism for sending messages back to servers or engaging in more interactive sessions with end users.
We are now on the cusp of a third generation of enterprise mobile messaging, which promises to address the gaps in the second generation. This new wave will be characterized by the rise of more interactive messaging between businesses and end users – both employees and customers. By adding more robust mobile client SDKs and combining these with end-to-end services such as in-app messaging and publish/subscribe options, enterprises will be able to build more integrated and interactive messaging solutions that go beyond the one-way nature of push messaging today.
This will enable new services that benefit end users and enterprises. Rather than broadly targeted promotions, businesses will be able to leverage messaging technology to truly engage users in one-to-one marketing and real time support scenarios. Retailers can trigger ads and services that are more personal and relevant, and open two-way conversations with customers to deepen engagement. This change has caused a massive shift in messaging landscape, as this has caused it to expand from Person-to-Person (P2P) messaging, towards Application-to-Person (A2P) messaging.
Next generation Smart Messaging APIs, such as the one offered by Webaroo’s Smart Messaging Platform-GupShup, now enable an enriched A2P chat app experience that adds to the experience of the end user, while enriching the one-to-one conversations between brands and their users. Consumers no longer need to close their messaging app and open their branded app to purchase products and communicate with their favorite brands; instead, the entire brand engagement takes place within the messaging app.
This brand presence has not frightened away users, but quite the opposite has happened. In fact, over 8 million companies now communicate with consumers over We-Chat in China, where the chat app has virtually replaced branded apps. We have also seen this spread to Japan, Taiwan and Thailand on LINE and to Korea on Kakao. End-users have personal communication preferences and these preferences are different in every market. For example, we enable consumers to choose their preferred channel of communication. If I am traveling in another country, I may have turned my cellular service off and roam on my data plan or have data access at a WiFi zone. I can then receive my airline flight status communications in a richer media format over We-Chat providing a more seamless brand interaction.
We will soon live in a world where everything from tailored-marketing, ecommerce, to two-way social customer care, can be accessed right within your favorite messaging app or via a text message. Our vision behind Smart Messaging APIs is to simplify the accessibility of consumers for brands and CRM platforms through rich, targeted communications channels (including SMS, Voice and Data). We also believe that enabling consumers to have access to all these channels with ability to customize the incoming and outgoing channels will help brands reach consumers in a more personalized manner.
This is because, though messaging apps are popular, consumers still continue to text message. About 29% of smart-phone users use messaging apps, while 97% use text messaging. Texting is fast, professional while also being personal, it’s easy to use, it’s in real-time, it picks up where you left off, and it connects to the Internet if needed. Also group chats and multimedia content are available via Smart SMS solutions with data links. Every smartphone comes with three social networks out of the box – voice, SMS and email, and consumers use them all. And some may add a popular messaging app to this mix. However, we truly believe that the future of Enterprise Messaging and consumer engagement requires a customizable Omni-channel (SMS, Voice, Email and Data) smart messaging platform with easy to use APIs to enable Enterprises to stay connected to their consumers using these smart text messages.
Business can also harness this capability to empower employees and accelerate workflows. Scenarios like approving expense reports, travel requests or a capital purchase requisitions can be streamlined by moving them to mobile. Rather than sending an email or alert and requiring an employee to log in via his notebook to review and approve an item, these tasks can be handled easily from within the context of an app. A business can send a push message to the employee that includes an actionable response. If the employee needs to review supplementary information, that can be provided within the app, where richer mobile APIs and interactive messaging capability make this possible. Employees benefit by resolving tasks more quickly from their mobile phones and enterprises benefit by improving responsiveness and execution.
In the coming months, businesses will enhance mobile apps with new capabilities that deliver more integrated and interactive experiences. While the second generation of enterprise mobile messaging shifted the market from a more open approach to messaging that did not rely on BlackBerry or operator-centric SMS, this third generation will deliver on the promise of messaging by delivering broader use cases made possible by smarter Omni-channel messaging APIs, In-app messaging and publish/subscribe options. Just as messaging has become a killer app in the consumer domain, enterprise mobile messaging will become a breakthrough capability for businesses.