Conversation powers everything, from business, government, wars and everything in-between. It would therefore suffice to say that he who controls the tools of communication or leverages them well will find both power and fortune. Telecommunication companies have been in the sweet spot as far back as markets will remember, more so after the switch to mobile. That enviable position has over the last few weeks seen a growing number of well-heeled messaging suitors, flush with cash – from their own innovative monetizing strategies or high value buyouts shaking the cash cow foundations. WhatsApp’s $ 19 billion buyout, Telegrams benefit from the visibility, Rakuten’s $ 900 million spend on Viber, Line from Asia with a + $200 million annual revenue rake. Mxit’s continued growth among many other services taking a swipe at the telco billions.
Mobile network operators saw this coming but their mitigation by way of a rich communication service dubbed Joyn and promoted by the GSMA has not seen much traction. The main features of Joyn are: “enhanced phonebook – service capabilities and enhanced contacts information such as presence and service discovery, enhanced messaging – to enable a large variety of messaging options including chat, emoticons, location share and file sharing, and enriched calls – enabling multimedia content sharing during a voice call, video call and video” which are the strong points of all the messaging services that denied telcos globally a combined $ 32.5 billion in sms revenue, this from a research by Ovum and poised to reach $ 54 billion in another two years. From a global GSMA membership of about 800 only 16 operators have implemented all or part of Joyn.
There is some good to all of this, with consumer brands standing to benefit most as the cost of conversation reduced, allowing for a more intimate, personalized and rich exchange. Brands that integrate neatly and tightly across all channels – SMS, USSD, Voice, Mobile web, Mobile Applications, Social Media and emerging messaging platforms, with adaptive services, will realize reduced costs of the sale, an in-depth understanding of their customer base from big data which can be spun into competitive advantage.
In a conversation economy, you must keep up with medium and user experiences that consumers pick up to ensure continued relevance and service longevity.