There's life in the old SMS yet

Ian Scales
By Ian Scales

Sep 12, 2014

via Flickr © Pixel Addict (CC BY 2.0)

via Flickr © Pixel Addict (CC BY 2.0)

SAP has been doing some enterprise/customer research on SMS which might be interesting to telcos. “We wanted to look at how consumers are engaging with enterprises,”  Diarmuid Mallon, Director, Global Marketing Solutions & Programs at SAP Mobile Services, told me.  “Personally, I think it’s a great way to engage with customers but we thought it would be a good idea to go out and actually ask consumers what they thought.”

What SAP thinks they’ve discovered is a bit of an SMS rennaisance. Not overall as clearly other messaging offerings such as Snapchat and WhatsApp are gnawing away at the telco messaging share, but in specific messaging use-cases customers are clearly placing SMS at the top of the heap.  It’s increasingly seen as  the trusted ‘old school’ option when you have a message that you MUST either send or receive.

A full 81 per cent of those polled said that ‘sometimes’ they just need a simple process like SMS rather than use a mobile app. In other words it’s a trusted medium. It may be a bit dull and limited but it works when you need it to.

This is something SAP thinks enterprises need to take on board, especially if they are trying to build trusted relationships with users or customers.  While apps might appear to be all the rage, in fact many users are starting to take stock, claims Diarmuid, and for a variety of reasons (privacy concerns, untidiness, confusing interfaces) are culling them back. While they clearly like and value many apps, they are also wary of them.  Is the app sending back information on my movements, looking through my contacts? and so on.

“We’re not claiming that apps are on the way out,” says Diarmuid, “just that the users are now applying some sophistication about what to use and when.After all, apps can take effort and you tend to have a lot of apps that you rarely touch; push notifications come in higglety pigglety and you often can’t trace them back to a specific app.” It’s all a bit fluffy in other words.

“People are looking to be more demanding of their engagement with brands, so from the enterprise perspective it means you can use SMS cut through and get that attention.”

It’s all about the mix too. Obviously SMS for notification of a parcel delivery is a welcome context,  but that can be used in conjunction with other message types to engage with the customer. SMS approaches are also ‘proof of intent’ because of their cost  -  the customer is valued enough to spend money on, no matter how marginal that payment is.

Obviously it’s not yet time to give up on the good old text message.

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