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Businesses showing interest in next generation messaging and chatbots, study shows

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There is a growing business appetite for more interactive forms of messaging, including two-way SMS, enhanced SMS such as messaging based on the Rich Communications Standard and Chatbots.

So finds Ovum’s Enterprise Messaging Survey 2017, developed in conjunction with cloud-based communications provider, CLX Communications and communications solutions vendor Symsoft.

The use of A2P SMS continues to surge, with Ovum forecasting 1.28trillion messages by 2019 up from 1.16trillion in 2016. It is an established and trusted channel by which enterprises send transactional and promotional messages, with 42% and 35% of respondents, respectively, indicating that their use of SMS for these purposes increased over the past year.

However, the survey results also suggest that a higher year-on-year proportion of organizations now enable their customers to send SMS replies, for example, to reschedule an appointment or to have an SMS-based conversation with a contact center agent; 23% of respondents stated that their use of two-way SMS had increased during the previous 12 months.

The strongest indication that businesses are aligning with more interactive and richer messaging formats is the growth in the deployment of Chatbots. A quarter of respondents indicated that they are using the nascent technology to automate customer interactivity with specific demographic groups such as millennials, and had already measured improvements in customer service and revenues.

There is also a clear indication from the respondents that they are keen to see SMS evolve as a service, with 37% stating that new features such as custom branding, the delivery of enriched content, and read receipts, would encourage them to send more SMS.

Moreover, over a third of respondents, 36%, indicated their organizations would be interested in using an enhanced SMS service, such as the Rich Communications Services (RCS) standard. From these respondents, the most appealing feature of RCS messaging was the ability to send images and videos – logos and way-finding maps from an airline, for example.

This group also indicated that the capability to provide chatbot-like interaction with their customers via RCS was a draw.

Interestingly, enterprises clearly value the advanced features that RCS offers. Over half of the respondents would be willing to pay between 1.5 times to three times the price of an ordinary per-message SMS

“The Enterprise Messaging Survey suggests that there is an appetite from enterprises to use richer forms of mobile messaging to engage with their customers,” says Pamela Clark-Dickson, Practice Leader, Digital Communications and Social Networking, Consumer Services, Ovum. “The pressure is now on the telecoms industry to ensure that their business-to-consumer messaging services remain relevant and attractive, especially as Apple joins other chat apps in engaging with the enterprise market, via its upcoming Business Chat offering.”

Robert Gerstmann, Co-founder and Director CLX adds: “Whilst A2P SMS continues to grow, the report clearly shows that enterprises are moving past an experimental phase with new messaging formats like Chatbots and examining, more closely, how best they can engage their customers with the right format at the right time.”

He continues: “It’s also encouraging to see that businesses clearly value a more immersive interaction with their customers. In the near future, this will be delivered by RCS type messaging services and Chat Apps allowing the Enterprise message to go beyond text to include app-like interactivity and rich media. It’s everything MMS promised but unfortunately didn’t deliver.”

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