Now in its 14th year, the leading messaging event in the market, the Digital Services World Congress 2014,returned to deliver more up to date and high level content on operator and OTT messaging strategies last month. The congress had several sub conferences, one of which was the Global Messaging World Congress and many interesting themes emerged from this.
A particular growing concern for mobile operators is that this rise of digital services is leading to a number of OTT messaging apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber, Line or Kakao being used by consumers, without generating much revenue for the operators. Research from Analysys Mason highlights this – apparently more than half of smartphone owners worldwide are already active users of OTT messaging apps and the total volume of messages sent from mobile devices via IP services exceeded the volume of SMS messages for the first time last year.
There was a huge amount of discussion around this, not least to try and spell out the various options for mobile operators and what they can do when faced with the OTT threat. Ultimately, their options are limited; they can fight against this trend and try to neutralize the threat, partner with OTT application providers, or try to emulate these players. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution or strategy that has emerged yet.
We believe, however, that there is a solution, and that mobile operators can still play in the game by developing other messaging revenue streams. For example, A2P (Application-To-Person) is a way for operators to respond to the negative long-term outlook for SMS and to challenge OTT, because A2P is growing both in terms of traffic and revenues, and many different A2P use cases are taking off. Just consider identity verification, mobile commerce or banking where this is already in place, with applications sending SMS messages as one-time-passwords or to help verify identities or accounts, for example. As mobile users grow more digitally connected than ever, enterprises everywhere are looking to contact potential customers on their devices and this will generate new opportunities for operators.
As with all mobile focused developments, meeting the user’s requirements and expectations are the keys to a long-term sustainable solution. Our colleague Daniel Mavrakis, VP core network and roaming, spoke at the conference on the challenge of how to monetize the A2P business opportunity in a customer-centric way. To find out more, have a look at his presentation here.
What do you think the solution for mobile operators is when faced with the rise of digital services and OTT apps? Let us know in the comments.