Throughout the past 20 years, we’ve become well acquainted with the traditional text message. We’ve seen it evolve from a method of communicating with friends and family, to a way for consumers to interact with businesses in order to receive updates and relevant information. As 4 billion people worldwide use SMS, this traditional method of communication continues to evolve and gain fans. Today, it’s building momentum as the next generation of SMS messaging called RCS, or Rich Communications Services. RCS is enhancing both consumer-to-consumer mobile messaging and business-to-consumer communications. We sat down with OpenMarket’s Director of Product Management and New Product Strategy Tim Fujita-Yuhas, to get the scoop on their recent partnership with Google to bring RCS messaging to the mobile market.
ADM: We know what RCS stands for (Rich Communication Services), but what exactly is it?
Fujita-Yuhas: To put it simply, RCS is text messaging 2.0. It brings vast improvements to the old standard by transforming the traditional person-to-person, and business-to-consumer interaction on one’s mobile device. The introduction of RCS to the mobile messaging market is a response to the evolving standards and preferences among consumers, who now demand highly personalized, interactive communications with preferred businesses. This new and improved SMS supports a richer visual experience and is built to share pictures, videos and GIFs as well as support read receipts, host group chats, and more. RCS is the next evolution of SMS – and it’s shaking up the mobile messaging game.
ADM: Will RCS be the end of traditional SMS text messaging?
Fujita-Yuhas: I like to think of RCS as an upgrade to SMS, rather than a replacement or an alternative. Since SMS text messaging is essentially the foundation of the RCS user experience, the native technology of the simple text message will be replaced with IP based messaging – it’ll just look like it’s gotten a facelift: much like Apple’s iMessage is an improved version of SMS. SMS isn’t dead, in fact, thanks to the introduction of RCS, mobile messaging will only get better from here. Whether it’s receiving a package delivery notification, an appointment reminder, or an emergency alert, 77 percent of consumers report they currently enjoy communicating with businesses via SMS. RCS embraces these evolving preferences and takes SMS to the next level with interactive and intuitive app-like capabilities. More than anything, RCS is a prime example that we are nearing the end of the app era, as there will no longer be a need to download a specific mobile application or create an account just to have access to enhanced and interactive visual capabilities.
ADM: What are the advanced capabilities of RCS?
Fujita-Yuhas: Consumers are often faced with the cumbersome task of toggling between apps, mobile websites and various other interfaces when attempting to interact with businesses. What RCS offers is a streamlined experience all within one familiar channel – a simple text message. An RCS message is delivered the same way as a text message, but it features much richer content, such as read receipts, typing indicators, and high resolution images, and video. These capabilities make the messaging experience much more useful and dynamic for consumers. The information they need is all in one place at exactly the right time.
ADM: Why should brands care about RCS and how should they be harnessing it today?
Fujita-Yuhas: Messaging via RCS provide information to consumers in a way they’ve never experienced with basic SMS, or even through MMS (Multi-Media Message Service). Not only is the content delivered instantaneously, but it provides timely and in-depth information that helps guide a customer through their journey. For instance, a customer is traveling by train and needs to obtain a ticket, find their platform, and confirm the time of departure. All this information can be delivered in one place through RCS technology, as it’s capable of sending the QR code for a ticket and the timing and a platform map. Brands that utilize RCS are effectively putting their customers first, and helping to reach them in a personal and thoughtful manner. By offering RCS to customers, brands enhance the overall customer experience and in return, see an uptick in brand loyalty.
ADM: What is Google’s Early Access Program and how is OpenMarket involved?
Fujita-Yuhas: Google launched an Early Access Program so messaging solution providers, platform providers, and mobile operators alike can begin pioneering the next frontier of mobile messaging. Members of the Early Access Program will be able to test RCS’ capabilities, build their platforms in alignment with RCS and ultimately influence the future standards of SMS communications. Several early adopters of RCS including Virgin Trains, FICO, SKY, and Philips have already expressed interest in pursuing these enhanced customer service capabilities.
ADM: Do all mobile carriers support RCS?
Fujita-Yuhas: While not all mobile carriers currently support RCS yet, it’s well on its way. Forty-four mobile network carriers currently support the next generation technology, globally. In fact, Google’s most recent RCS news announced partnerships with Orange, Deutsche Telekom and Globe Telecom in addition to its previous partnerships with Sprint, Rogers and Telenor to provide Android users with RCS capabilities.
ADM: What is the timeline for RCS to be globally available?
Fujita-Yuhas: Ultimately, the goal is to have every mobile device and every carrier fully compatible with the RCS messaging standard. While it is still too early-on to estimate a timeline in which RCS will be globally available, as Google has already made moves to expand its partnership plans with carriers from around the world, RCS is on a steady path to tapping into an international mobile demographic.
Management and New Product Strategy
ADM: How is OpenMarket planning to utilize RCS with its customers?
Fujita-Yuhas: OpenMarket works with enterprises across many different vertical markets, but we can take a look at the hospitality industry for this specific example. Hotel guests that receive RCS messages will have an enhanced customer experience, as hotels that implement RCS technology are able to provide guests a full check-in experience. Upon arrival to their hotel, guests receive automatic reservation confirmations, access to room number, a front desk line, and Wi-Fi passcode, along with visual weather updates in the hotel’s area, maps to nearby tourist destinations, and popular neighboring restaurants’ dining menus, all in one message.
ADM: Please provide an example of a customer use-case.
Fujita-Yuhas: A prime example of a possible customer use-case is the implementation of RCS technology when visiting a theme park. Upon reaching the entry gates, RCS users will receive a text that provides not only a welcome message, but a QR code that they can be conveniently scanned for entry. The RCS experience doesn’t stop there – once inside the theme park, visitors can continue the two-way texting conversation to get a sneak peek at how long the lines are for the rides they want to check out during their visit. RCS brings an important update to the standard SMS as it stays with the customer throughout their entire journey, helping them with any needs along the way.