Rich business messaging has long enjoyed ubiquity via SMS, but today’s digital, consumer-driven convenience economy means brands want to reach their customers on a platform most relevant to them at a precise moment in time to deliver the ultimate user experience.
The ability for operators to start monetizing these two-way message exchanges in conjunction with their enterprise partners is actually already happening today. As bot verification and management services, combined with MaaP Aggregation platforms, gain increased adoption, both have proven critical to monetizing enterprises’ connections to operators’ networks, while helping them better control the termination of A2P and P2A messaging traffic to boost their bottom line, capture downstream forms of revenue from A2P messaging, reclaim potential losses from OTTs, and drive customer retention. With new business use cases and more sophisticated pricing models emerging toward universal adoption, operators must act now to gain their fair share of the market as the industry-wide shift toward 5G connectivity continues to take shape.
The RCS Business Messaging Market Size & Opportunity
According to our partners at Mobilesquared, RCS Business Messaging revenues are expected to grow at an exponential clip—from $24.5B USD in 2021 to nearly $60B USD by 2025, with the likes of A2P SMS, WhatsApp messaging and RCS all accounting for total spend.
Also of equal significance are statistics mined from Mobilesquared’s proprietary research around not just the messaging industry landscape, but its critical components that factor into what shapes this dynamic. For example, we see already that in 2021 there are about 4 billion mobile internet users, nearly that same number of mobile social media users, and approximately 3.5 billion unique smartphone users.
Of the three, the latter is of utmost importance because it indicates that the industry has hit a mass of critical scale, and continues to grow, in fact, in parallel with mobile advertising spend. The simple logic being that when something such as business messaging achieves scale, brands very willingly start to spend money for the sake of putting their advertisements in front of mobile smartphone consumers. The result is a harmonious marriage of disparate industries beginning to create significant revenue streams that tie into, or in fact, stem from a direct result of where our own industry is heading, with that of course being in an upward direction.
Even so, we are just starting this journey. While SMS has been, and continues to be, the solid foundation for the messaging landscape, it truly will be up to rich business messaging to drive the space forward by serving as the ultimate catalyst that will urge brands to continue to spend money.
Utilizing This Momentum: How Operators Can Monetize RCS With Their Enterprise Partners
With the scale of the market here already, there’s no doubt that the RCS Business Messaging industry will continue to prove itself out as an enormous opportunity. But there are still many questions to consider, especially for mobile network operators.
First and foremost, with A2P SMS here to stay, and with the emergence of new players such as WhatsApp, LINE, and other OTT messaging services, it’s essential for operators to first decide where they want to play. Being that there are many choices, operators can simply choose to stay in the center of it where SMS continues to dominate, or they can forge ahead just a bit and capture more of the market that’s coming along? And if an operator’s choice is the latter, then how do they get there?
The answer lies in providing enterprise partners with a unique experience that ultimately allows them to increase their spend to operators, while also presenting operators with the ability to retain control of their customers. RCS, in fact, provides just that—from adding increased feature capabilities, flexibility, and visual interaction functionality to drive a stronger messaging experience for enterprise partners to deliver to their subscriber base.
Additionally, operators and enterprises can work together to compete by simply tackling the whole idea of ease of use from a consumer perspective. RCS, in fact, offers a holistic, complete, interactive, and fully functional two-way chat experience from one single messaging client native to the handset, eliminating the need for multiple third-party apps. Once that foundation is in place, and a definitive decision has been made as to which direction an operator wants to go with their enterprise partners, there are multiple mechanisms in place that can help operators and enterprises alike monetize these RCS chat sessions—whether that be transactional-based, session-based, content-based, or campaign-based. While transaction-based chats are most common, we have seen an increasing number of use cases that indicate other models are quickly catching up, positioning operators to charge their enterprise partners accordingly by applying different pricing tiers to these various models, leading to efficient monetization and yielding a higher return on investment.
Translating Industry Standards Into Conversational Business Models
As pricing becomes increasingly important, it also becomes just as evident that continuing to apply SMS rates to RCS chat sessions massively undervalues these conversations, and thus, cuts mobile operators short when it comes to maximizing the dollar value they could be receiving had they been charging accordingly.
Moving forward, as the messaging landscape continues to shift, our belief is that SMS pricing should really serve as merely a starting point from this moment onward, as operators are not only monetizing the price of messaging, but in turn, monetizing the price of user engagement. With that context in mind, it should create a much clearer picture of why premium charging is justified, as opposed to just holding a short-term view of looking at these scenarios as mere time-based and session-based events.
Lastly, when it comes to applying different pricing models to ensure these scenarios are billed accordingly, a lot of the credit goes to our partners at MEF for continuing to push the industry ahead by creating several models that address this, with the hope that the industry will soon adopt these proposals as a universal standard.
As Vice President of Product Management, Chris Wright oversees the mid-term strategy for Syniverse’s product portfolios, using close working relationships with customers and in-depth research of industry trends. Since first joining Syniverse, in 1996, Chris has held a number of senior positions, including, most recently, Senior Director of Global Messaging, in which he was responsible for global P2P messaging strategy and product development, and Managing Director and Acting Vice President of Syniverse’s Würzburg, Germany, office, in which he led the integration of the A2P and P2P messaging businesses of MACH following Syniverse’s acquisition of that company. His other positions have included Development Manager for Signaling Solutions and Messaging, Technology Research Manager and Senior Product Manager. Over his 20-year-plus career, Chris has made numerous contributions to the telecommunication industry, which have included co-authoring the gateway Short Message Peer-to-Peer Protocol (SMPP) interoperability standards that are currently utilized in North America. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electromechanical engineering from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton.