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Is SMS Dead? Think Again

How SMS remains relevant in a world of disruptive communication technologies

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BY Oliver Prevrhal - 29 Nov 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

The proliferation of smartphones and soaring internet penetration rates across the globe has led to the development and emergence of various channels of communication such as instant messaging services and social media platforms. Smartphones, in particular, have paved the way for the growth of these Internet-based communication channels, resulting in a drop in Short Message Service (SMS) usage amongst consumers.

Although SMS usage may no longer be the go-to messaging platform for consumers, businesses think otherwise. This mobile channel is fast becoming an important component of business communication strategies worldwide due to its simplicity, ease of use, and impressive reach.

Airlines notifying passengers about changing departure times, delivery services informing recipients that their orders have been dispatched, banks sending their customers Internet banking notifications and online services providing log-in details for two-factor authentication are examples of where SMS proves its value.

The Most Ubiquitous Messaging Platform

SMS is available on virtually all mobile phones and over all mobile networks, making it the world’s most pervasive communications technology. There are more than 5 billion unique mobile subscribers globally, according to the GSM Association.

What sets SMS apart from today’s instant messaging services and social media platforms is that this service neither requires a downloaded application, nor an Internet connection to function. This makes it easier to use and a more reliable tool for communication.

The ubiquity, reliability, and reach of SMS have led businesses to start integrating the technology into their communication strategies to engage customers better. This is echoed in a study by the International Customer Management Institute which revealed that 79% of organisations believe that customers want SMS support.

Businesses which can engage in true two-way SMS communication with customers have a significant advantage over those who have been slow in adopting it. The rise of such business communication strategies, coupled with today’s app-dominated world, has led to the rise of application-to-person (A2P) SMS to reach customers in a fast, secure, and direct way.

A2P SMS Growth Driven by Businesses

A2P SMS is essentially the process of sending mobile messages from an app to a mobile user, with businesses often using it to directly reach customers, authenticate users of online services, or deliver time-sensitive alerts. A report by

Ovum predicts that over 2 trillion A2P messages will be sent in 2017, up from 1.8 trillion in 2014, due to increased use of A2P messaging by businesses.

A study by Infolic Research further highlighted that Asia Pacific will lead the A2P SMS market by 2022. This is due to businesses leveraging the strong growth in the mobile market as well as the increasing Internet usage in developing countries in the region.

Reaping the Business Benefits of A2P SMS

Before businesses start utilising A2P SMS to better reach out to customers, they first need to take a step back to evaluate whether this technology enables them to meet their business needs.

The next step is choosing an A2P SMS provider with the technology and infrastructure that offers the following fundamentals — deliverability, security, and compliance. Deliverability ensures that an SMS always reaches its intended recipient, no matter where they are in the world, in a timely manner. This is important for critical applications such as online banking, where two-factor authentication has to be carried out within a certain time, requiring the SMS to be processed within milliseconds.

Security and compliance are two of the most common concerns businesses have, especially when it comes to transmitting data via SMS. The issue of security can be remedied by using a provider that offers complete visibility and control of business communications.

With the fast-growing base of mobile users and availability of multiple communication channels, it is imperative for businesses to start developing business communication strategies to effectively engage customers in a bid to remain competitive. Whether it is the ubiquity, reliability, speed or security of text messaging, SMS remains a solid choice in today’s world of disruptive communication technologies.

Oliver Prevrhal is Managing Director at Retarus Asia, a global provider of professional messaging solutions.