While platforms like WhatsApp offer a richer and more immersive experience, SMS will remain an important technology in South Africa for years to come.
This is according to Clickatell Chief Product and Technology Officer Jeppe Dorff.
“As companies mature the way they interact with their customers, there will continue to be a need to provide time-sensitive information to customers,” explained Dorff.
“Not only is SMS a highly reliable and high-quality channel that is global in reach, it provides a perfect customer engagement channel for the billions of people around the world that do not have easy or cost-effective access to mobile data.”
Dorff explained that SMS makes it easy to send messages across national borders without users needing the same app or anything other than a functional, SMS-enabled mobile phone.
For this reason, SMS is experiencing a renaissance and Dorff said growth rates remain high globally.
“Therefore, the business model is still attractive to mobile networks and offers a great opportunity for them to bundle and continue to provide seamless interoperability between mobile operators around the globe and their collective customers,” said Dorff.
RCS will not kill SMS – Mobile networks
While Rich Communications Service (RCS) has replaced Short Message Service (SMS) in countries like the United States, South African mobile networks told MyBroadband that they do not see the same happening in South Africa any time soon.
Telkom said that while fewer people are sending SMSes to each other, businesses and organisations are sending more SMSes than ever before.
“The SMS life-cycle has been stretched due to increased demand from the banking sector and OTT vendors, which are largely in favour of using SMS as a default channel for two-Factor authentication; alerts and reminders,” said Telkom.
Vodacom believes that there is a place in the South African market for both offerings to exist.
“Vodacom has operated an RCS enabled service for a few years already and will continue to support its evolution into a Universal Profile as more device manufacturers come on board,” said Vodacom.
“There is still a significant number of customers that are on feature phones and those who are not using Android smartphone devices,” added Cell C.
It, therefore, believes that the biggest barrier to RCS locally is the availability of smartphones.
“There is also the issue of cross-network adoption, as customers prefer services they can use across all networks,” it said.
The benefits of messaging in business
While SMS is still going strong, messaging platforms like WhatsApp also offer a variety of benefits for most users.
“New technologies like WhatsApp and others provide a richer and more immersive experience for end customers, whether it is adding imagery, files, or voice notes to the channels,” Dorff explained.
“As part of the customer engagement lifecycle, delivery of those capabilities are increasingly important on these ideal customer engagement channels for customers.”
Dorff said that the way new channels and messaging is evolving means that businesses can create deeper relationships with their customers.
This extends across providing in-depth product information, issue resolution, and upgrading or buying products.
“That whole lifecycle can be facilitated on messaging platforms, and Clickatell has seen a surge in interest from businesses wanting to create a better, more cost-effective, and closer relationship with their customers,” said Dorff.