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EVENTS 21/09/2020

Simplicity certainly is the ultimate sophistication

Those of you closer to my age will almost certainly remember the famous 1993 American fantasy comedy Groundhog Day. Written and directed by Harold Ramis and starring Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell and Chris Elliot, the film portrays people trapped in a time loop. Murray’s character, weatherman Phil Connors, gradually becomes depressed and desperate for a way to escape a time loop where the same day repeats itself. Sound familiar?

The past few months have not exactly been a breeze for countless hundreds of millions of us but there are glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel. Thankfully. But so many of us and so many organisations around the world have been missing the physical face-to-face element of communication which is critical to both building and maintaining personal and professional relationships. The mobile channel – already important for this – has been called upon even more for engaging with customers, potential customers and please don’t forget, team members.

Digital transformation has been a hot topic in recent years. Companies had mapped out their long-term digital transformation plans but a couple of months into 2020, these suddenly became unworkable and effectively had to be torn up. The luxury of time suddenly was something they suddenly just did not have, finding themselves having to adjust at breakneck speed for something that has proven to be many countries’ biggest peace time challenge.

When Mike Tyson was asked in November 1996 by a reporter whether he was worried about Evander Holyfield and his fight plan he answered; “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” And wow, have we all been hit. Hard and unexpectedly.

SMS is in its 28th year and it continues to prove its naysayers wrong. I totally agree that it can come across as a bit flat, monochrome, lacking visual impact but it isn’t what I view as being the central pillar of mobile engagement without good reason. It is ubiquitous. It’s easy to use and usage cuts across all demographics like a knife through hot butter. You don’t need WiFi or mobile broadband. The result? 98% of messages successfully delivered are read, the majority within the number of minutes less than we have fingers on one hand. SMS just works.

In order to build genuine, meaningful relationships with customers, it takes more than just one channel. We all should know that and accept it. SMS is great but it alone isn’t the silver bullet all organisations are looking for to fulfil their mobile engagement needs.

Everybody is in need of something which brings all the different mobile channels, strands, together in a seamless manner, creating easy two-way dialogues. This is what the world of omnichannel content strategy is about. But it isn’t easy. The word ‘omnichannel’ is thrown around like confetti across our industry when the hard truth is that few organisations have truly mastered bringing everything together required: email, voice (whether traditional or not), video, chat apps, A2P SMS, Push, chatbots and of course ‘new’ channels such as RCS. The reality is that RCS has been around for a decade.

Rich Communication Services has (or is it have?) had a number of false dawns but come 2020, was starting to pick up and get into its stride. From my (virtual) travels around the industry the past months though, I have really seen that RCS has been well and truly sidelined to a huge degree. Channels that are easy to implement and ubiquitous, caring not for the operating system one’s smartphone may employ, have been grabbed with both hands and WhatsApp and SMS have been the big winners in the A2P mobile engagement stakes. The likes of RCS will be back.

The situation today is simple: A2P SMS more than gets to live another day. It is positively booming and going nowhere. Well, not for the next few years at least. The challengers keep on coming. And so do the challenges as we have all seen, as well…



Written by Ehsan Ahmadi – CEO of Vox Carrier