Press release – March 20, 2018
At the rate of speed technology is changing how we interact, no CMO can think that any platform in use now may be the first choice of their target audience in the near future. Case in point is SMS. It’s part of daily life and become such an ingrained way to communicate to the point that most marketing strategies include SMS campaigns.
However, there is an up-in-coming communication platform set to change our focus: Rich Communication Services (RCS). As Digital Trends wrote last year “formed by a group of industry promoters in 2007 and brought under the wings of the GSM Association in 2008, it envisions a platform that’s significantly more rich and capable than today’s SMS.”
Labeled as text messaging 2.0, Google featured it at Mobile World Congress 2017. RCS is poised to become a reality which both consumers and brands can reap the rewards. In terms of carriers and their use of RCS according to Fierce Wireless “T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint have all reported progress to one degree or another on the rollout of RCS” while Verizon “appears to be the only major wireless network operator in the United States that is not supporting (RCS).
Mobile Vs. RCS By the Numbers
In 2012, there were 6 trillion text messages sent globally. With Q1 2017 showing 107 million new mobile subscriptions to total 7.6 billion worldwide, the new predictions indicate that there will be 9 billion by 2022.
The GSMA, who represent the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with more than 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, estimates that by Q1 2019 there will be 1.05 billion monthly active users, served by over 200 mobile operators. This implies that over 2018 there will be an increase of 890 million monthly active users and RCS launches from 150 mobile operators.
RCS is gaining in popularity for two key reasons. The same research report found that over two-thirds of consumers would prefer what RCS offers over SMS in terms of what is offered and how the information is presented. This includes the fact that they like to see company branding within the RCS message and the identification of who sent them the message. Besides these benefits, consumers also like the simplicity, personalization, and reliability that RCS offers.
According to Greg Hoy, Director of Product Management, RCS Messaging at OpenMarket, there are three specific reasons that consumers will find RCS better than SMS. “First are the use of ‘chip lists,’ which make even complex engagements as easy as tapping a button. Second is the utility of having more functionality in the native messaging inbox that consumers already use so much. Third, message branding and verified sender information provided consumers with increased peace of mind and feeling of security when they receive RCS messages from trusted brands.”
Reluctant Adoption But Growth Potential in 2018
Despite these benefits, there has been somewhat of a reluctance on the part of larger carriers to widely adopt RCS. And, right now, SMS is nearly ubiquitous because it’ available on nearly every mobile phone. However, the one downside to RCS is its lack of reach due to this reluctant adoption.
However, Hoy sees some recent changes that herald greater adoption in 2018 and beyond. “Google’s purchase of Jibe and their subsequent heavy investment in the RCS initiative have helped create momentum around RCS. Another key milestone was the release of UP2.0 (Universal Profile). That introduced many of the features that makes RCS so appealing. Additionally, Samsung has made aggressive movement into RCS from both the MNO and the handset sides. Plus, there are another 20+ handset manufacturers who now support RCS.”
Also, as part of Google’s RCS Early Access Program, OpenMarket is bringing RCS to smartphone screens in 2018.
A Case Study in RCS Adoption
A prime example of where RCS adoption is working is Virgin Trains. John Sullivan, CIO and Project Director for the company stated the decision to implement RCS was tied to the their obsession with delivering excellent customer service. He explained, “A key part of that service experience involves removing customer anxiety in times of disruption. We can do that by providing relevant real-time information, enabling passengers to react accordingly. The value of real time messaging deteriorates quickly. We are excited about RCS because it affords our customers to the ability to receive rich media messages on their devices and engage immediately, in some instances with just a single tap.”