SMS moves beyond push marketing to enable two-way communication between Sales and Customers
Text messaging, once used exclusively by teens to express themselves in just a few characters (LOL, OMG, BFF…) is growing up fast. In a sign of just how mainstream texting has become, older adults now make up the fastest-growing new population of texters, according to the Pew Internet & Life Project.
Not surprisingly, given this adoption by adults, texting is now steadily making its way into the workplace. With the increase in BYOD and BYOA (Bring your own App) redefining office environments, texting has become a staple of day-to-day communication between colleagues and even customers.
But what comes next? Well, predictions are always fun, but inherently dangerous —for instance, who is actually driving the Jetsons hovercraft “car of the future” that was promised all those years ago? With that caveat, I am going to offer some predictions that will be grounded in actual marketplace events and trends, along with a sneak peak at some proprietary data that my company, HeyWire Business, will release in January. The focus of these predictions is the continued emergence of mobile communications in the workplace and the evolving expectations of employees and customers who continue to embrace this technology.
In many ways, 2013 was a year of “enlightenment” for businesses regarding mobile text messaging. It was a year when the “light bulb” went off and many leaders came to understand that text messaging is happening “now,” representing a profound opportunity for productive and customer-centric, social organizations. Companies are realizing that employees are communicating with customers and each other, and that text isn’t just for mobile marketing alerts. Survey data from RingCentral illustrated the trend: 82% of respondents in their survey said they use texting daily for business. Additionally, 32% said they have used texts to close a business deal. Our own HeyWire survey echoes these trends, with 62 percent of our survey respondents saying they would prefer to separate their business text messages from their personal text messages. All of which highlights the emerging demand for cloud-based messaging to enable employees to collaborate with colleagues AND customers, across devices and platforms.
The HeyWire survey of workplace professionals (more to come in January), also revealed that fully 61 percent of respondents said they wanted to separate their business text messages from their personal text messages, further highlighting that enterprise text messaging is here for the long-haul.
We believe 2014 will be a year when mobile texting in the enterprise continues to grow. So, without further ado, here’s a look ahead to some 2014 trends and associated “Bold Predictions”:
Viva La Mobile App Revolution…In the Enterprise: Mobile technology continues to disrupt all different types of organizations and industries. Over the past year, however, we have seen a particularly dramatic rise in the number of business users that embrace messaging solutions. According to one statistic from Flurry, “messaging apps will reach 1.5 billion users next year.”
Bold Prediction: So what does that mean for the enterprise? A reach of 1.5 billion users means that organizations will also continue to deploy mobile apps for business purposes in 2014. Text messaging should emerge as a leading catalyst to the Mobile App Revolution—particularly from cloud-based vendors who can offer security, reliability and the ability to “save” messages for companies in highly-regulated industries. A recent industry report from Frost and Sullivan has characterized test messaging as the missing piece of the communications stack:
“Ultimately, AMS (business text messaging) addresses a gap in the unified communications stack that most of us even didn’t recognize was there, and does so in an elegant over-the-top approach.” -Michael Brandenburg Frost & Sullivan
Based on this, we predict text messaging apps will continue to disrupt the traditional concepts and use-cases associated with “Unified Communications.” Our assessment is that these messaging apps will generate over 100M downloads in 2014.
Unified Communications (UC) Deployments are Down …. Until Its Definition is Redefined: According to a recent predictions piece in the industry publication, NoJitter, “it appears that once again mobile UC clients on smartphones and tablets remain the most over-hyped and least utilized of communications technologies.”
According to a 2013 survey from Information Week, the percentage of companies reporting UC deployments advanced just 2 percent last year, from 36 percent to 38 percent—and among those who have deployed or are planning to deploy UC, 47% report serving a quarter or fewer of their users. When asked to what degree various UC elements were being used in their organizations, mobile UC clients ranked near the bottom, along with “social networking,” “voice over Wi-Fi” and “softphones.” UC deployment trailed smartphones, tablets and other deployments, significantly.
Bold Prediction: It’s time for a change. UC will be redefined in 2014 to include text messaging and expand the focus to a mobile first, any-screen approach. This will create an upswing in 2014, as companies expand these initiatives beyond mobile devices, they will include landline, desktop and cloud-based solutions that allow users to choose the platform of their choice to communicate with colleagues both within and beyond their organization’s four walls. We predict that “new” UC deployments that embrace text messaging will climb significantly in 2014, with more than half of companies adding them to their arsenal.
What’s Old is New Again—Thanks to BYOD: Businesses will improve simplicity in their enterprise communications by replacing declining communications channels such as Voicemail with services that increasingly-mobile employees will actually embrace (on their device). In fact, we’ll go so far as predicting that what was once considered “old” – both SMS and business landline phones— will become new again. The recent HeyWire survey found that 62 percent of respondents said they wish they could send and receive messages from their business number!
Bold Prediction: Texting among business people aged 40-50 will triple in 2014 – mainly because their customers demand it. As businesses come to realize the potential of texting to help solve customer issues in real time and to improve two-way communication, the use of text messaging in business, by business people, will continue to grow.
More BYOD – Driving Users to Separate Business from Personal: Business apps will continue to evolve and serve the distinct needs of employees (and their organizations) that prefer to separate business and personal. Employees now demand, rather than prefer, to utilize their own mobile and tablet devices for business purposes, and communications/ messaging are certainly a priority. But, the issues with BYOD, aside from security and compliance concerns, revolve around an inability for employees to effectively utilize these devices in a fashion that clearly delineates apps and functions as “business” versus “personal.” Text messaging offers employees the ability to simplify their business lives by creating a single (landline-mobile) phone number with text capabilities for business. And, in doing so, allow them to keep their personal cell number personal.
Additionally, the growth in Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile App Management (MAM) will help accelerate this trend. As additional platforms are available that embrace landlines, mobile devices and employee-owned devices, the growth of MDM and MAM will drive adoption of these solutions that separate business and personal text-based communications.
Bold Prediction: We believe that 2014 is the year that mobile messaging for basic communications, not just one-way mobile marketing, is going to kill voicemail and become the highest growth piece of the UC stack (voice, email, IM and videoconferencing). Businesses will increasingly come to understand the role that text messaging can play as a highly efficient channel to solve business problems and strengthen customer relationships.
We don’t predict the widespread adoption of “Jetson-like” rocket cars in 2014. But we do see the emergence of text messaging as an essential communications platform; evolving significantly from the past use of “text” as a simple one-way broadcast or notification tool. Companies know they need to get a handle on text communication in their enterprise, and, based on current trends, business text messaging is poised to emerge in 2014 as a business-critical tool for connecting the sales force and the enterprise with its customers. Our prediction: It is the future of CRM.
Happy Holidays, and see you in the New Year!