Enterprise messaging is on the verge of embracing the next generation of SMS, rich communication services (RCS). Ian Germer, director of communication services at Orange Group, discusses the RCS opportunity.

To get an insight into the potential of next-generation RCS, it’s good to think about parking. More specifically, the nightmare of paying for parking.

Now that cash is on the way out (dirty, inconvenient, prone to embezzlement), digital payment is becoming the norm.

Sounds good. But the reality is that most use cases require the driver to download an app  to make a payment – or do so on a clunky mobile web site. This is a headache, especially when there are multiple parking companies operating multiple sites.

RCS messaging offers a compelling alternative. Inside a rich chat session, a driver simply answers a series of questions asked by a bot.

  • What’s your registration number?
  • How long do you want to stay?
  • How would you like to pay?

The driver answers with text or, since this is a rich messaging session, by tapping a menu item. There’s also the option to look at maps or pics or video.

 When I show demos of the technology, it excites people. . . I think there’s every chance RCS will be a success and that new use cases will emerge. the main thing is that enterprises will find it really easy to manage RCS as part of their multi channel comms strategy.”

It’s quick and easy. And all the friction of the app download process is removed.

Ian Germer, director of communication services at Orange Group, appreciates the power of the parking use case. He has created a video walk-through of the exact process, which he uses to illustrate RCS to interested parties.

“When I show demos of the technology, it excites people,” he says. “RCS can be a replacement for websites and apps. An enterprise doesn’t need to write and manage an app any more. Instead it can use a bot. And there are plenty of good bot platforms out there that make it really easy to design a dialogue with customers.

“I think there’s every chance RCS will be a success and that new use cases will emerge. the main thing is that enterprises will find it really easy to manage RCS as part of their multi channel comms strategy.”

Orange is one of many operators committed to RCS as a ‘successor’ to SMS since the channel was rejuvenated by Google.

To recap, Google bought the underlying RCS tech from Jibe in 2015 and then a new Universal Profile was created by operators and other parties within the GSMA standards groups. This gave the market the standardisation and the certainty it needed to get behind the platform.

In 2017, Orange formally confirmed its support for Google’s solution. A year later, Google revealed it was working with 43 carriers and device manufacturers on rolling out RCS. It also showcased a number of trials to demonstrate how RCS can supercharge A2P messaging.

Clearly, Germer believes RCS’s advantages over web and apps will cause enterprises to adopt it. But what about consumers? He argues the same lack of friction will win them over too.

“The beauty of RCS is it’s just there,” he says. “You buy a new handset or you wake up in the morning and the client has been upgraded. Your SMS client is now your RCS client.”

In fact, Orange is planning to include an RCS tutorial whenever it upgrades a user. “We’ll be using RCS to teach people about RCS,” he adds.

So does this spell the end of SMS? Not necessarily. Germer believes the first generation channel will migrate to other use cases as RCS flourishes.

He says: “I think SMS will continue to grow but it will be less visible. It will be used in a more technical sense, in IoT and more hidden services.”

That said, he also accepts that RCS is very new, and it will be a while before it displaces SMS as the dominant A2P option. “If we can achieve the same level of penetration  with RCS as we have with SMS – and the same perceived quality and reliability – then it could push SMS back. But I think it will be a while before there’s enough market confidence to do that.”

This Executive Insights Video Series, in association with Kontxt from RealNetworks, takes an in depth look at the next generation of messaging.

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