Ovum in partnership with CLX and Symsoft recently announced the results of its 2017 Enterprise Messaging Survey, which indexes the key trends in the business-to-consumer messaging communications market. The survey builds on Ovum’s 2015 Enterprise Messaging Survey that uses a similar question set and sample frame.
The headline statistics from both reports provide deep insights on a market that is rapidly evolving. The 2015 survey highlighted the need for revenue assurance platforms to close down sharp messaging service providers that operate fraudulent grey routes and the need for pricing elasticity in offering bulk SMS to enterprises. Much of that work is now underway.
The 2017 report shows conclusively that enterprises are moving beyond an experimental phase with new messaging formats and are already embracing channels that deliver deeper interactivity such as chat bots and the richer user experience delivered by messaging built on the RCS standard.
Between the headlines there is also a lot to be learnt from benchmarking the results of each report. What emerges is an illustration of the direction of change in the enterprise messaging market. Here are the areas that stood out to us.
Social media is on the increase
Social media has increased as an enterprise messaging channel. In 2015 54% of enterprises were using it to communicate with customers. It’s now grown to 78%.
The growth of social media messaging of course goes hand-in-hand with the growth of Internet and smartphone penetration. A study by social media management platform Hootsuite suggests that 50% of the global population is now online and that mobile social media use has increased by 30% year-on-year to surpass 2.5 billion users globally, with 91% of social media users accessing social from mobile. It follows that enterprises are increasingly seeking to communicate with their audiences where they congregate online, on social media.
Chat apps down?
Perhaps surprisingly, chat app enterprise messaging use saw a decline from 43% of respondents in 2105 to 38% in 2017. Whilst the growth in chat apps like WhatsApp and Messenger is relentless, and the format increasingly becoming a proxy for other functions like m-commerce, in terms of messaging, today it is essentially a peer-to-peer platform.
In all likelihood, this will change over time as businesses seek out new, more effective ways to communicate with specific demographic segments like millennials but fragmentation means that it’s a huge task.
Two-way SMS is growing
In 2015 the highest increase in SMS was in one-way (a one way/no reply communication with consumers). 44% of enterprises used it for this purpose for marketing messages and two-factor authentication for example. In 2017, one-way SMS had the lowest amount of increase at just 15% of respondents.
Rather enterprises are seeking out more interactive ways to communicate with their audiences, which explains the relative growth in two-way SMS at 23% in the last 12 months. There is more evidence of the enterprise appetite for improved customer interactivity in the 2015 study, which indicated that 55.7% of respondents would increase SMS traffic volumes if additional features like two-way SMS were available.
The 2017 report indicates that more enterprises are now using two-way SMS as the feature becomes more readily available.
The 2017 survey also indicated that 25% of enterprises are using chat bots to automate customer interactivity. Importantly, chat bots aren’t limited to chat apps and social media. 48% of the respondents use two-way SMS to deliver a chat bot experience to their customers, i.e. with AI in the background, accurately automating responses in conversation with consumers.