The Mobile Ecosystem Forum events are always a great source of learning and inspiration for professionals in the industry, and one of the most productive ways to get insights from fellow participants is — through open conversations. At MEF CONNECTS Omnichannel 2023, our Chief Revenue Officer, Cristina Constandache, and Head of Carrier Relations, Messaging, Ritu Taneja, took part in two excellent discussions, alongside industry experts:
Here are some key takeaways from these sessions.
Connecting the Dots: New and Old in the Omnichannel
A lot of modern conversations about traditional channels such as SMS and the “new-comers” (having been in the messaging business for over a decade, we use the term loosely) such as OTT messaging apps — focus on comparing the two, as competition. However, the simple truth is that, when it comes to omnichannel strategies, businesses should not choose one channel, but rather look for the most effective ways to use them in synergy. So, for most enterprises, it’s not a question of whether to pick SMS or a messaging app, so much as a quest to optimize their communication via both: to be most effective, to engage their customers better, and to save costs.
As Cristina Constandache put it, OTT messaging doesn’t have to be an alternative to SMS when they can instead work together. One example from Rakuten Viber’s own practice is the SMS Fallback feature that allows our clients to automatically deliver via SMS those messages that couldn’t be delivered via Rakuten Viber (for example, if the intended recipient is not connected to the Internet). This is just one example, showing how intelligent communication strategies that use SMS and Rakuten Viber in tandem can create a better experience for the brands’ customers.
Driving Omnichannel Adoption: the Challenges
Businesses are certainly seeing value in many individual channels, and, as Paul Louden astutely pointed out, there’s an appetite for omnichannel. But there are two challenges enterprises face here: one, building a cohesive omnichannel strategy where channels work optimally and supplement each other without duplicating information and cluttering the brand-user communication. And two — integrating it all smoothly, which is where companies like Infobip and Sinch come in to save the day, that is to make implementation and use of the omnichannel strategy easier and more seamless for the brands.
Another challenge is how fast digital transformation impacts communication tools. Although the pace of technological progress can hardly be viewed as a bad thing, it leaves many enterprises struggling to keep up with the ever-shifting landscape of digital communication. As a result, many companies may be underestimating the potential of some tools, such as rich messaging, or, even if interested, lack the understanding to implement them effectively. So, education of business clients is another major goal that Rakuten Viber shares with our messaging partners. Ultimately, the advantages of rich business messaging — such as the personalization capabilities, the inherent two-way nature, and the versatility of applications — speak for themselves and drive adoption.
Transcending Boundaries: Use Cases for Rich Business Messaging
One important driver of digital transformation is the abundance of use cases that benefit from an optimized messaging strategy. Communication channels are applied by different departments, for different goals across each enterprise: from providing effective customer support in a channel where customers already spend their time — to sending promotions and other marketing messages or driving sales directly.
Even security can be empowered by messaging: as Ritu Taneja pointed out, the ongoing challenges in identity verification have created a demand among businesses for additional safeguards, especially when communicating sensitive customer information. This is one of the reasons Rakuten Viber is working on a new offering that provides an extra layer of security for transactional business messages and helps ensure that the right messages reach the right customers.
Establishing trust in brand-user communication is an important objective for which rich business messaging is being used by companies in a wide range of industries, from banking and finance to retail and delivery companies. These are aided both by the ability to send files, images, and video safely — and by the very conversational nature of two-way communication.
Collaboration: Synergy between Actors in the Industry
For Rakuten Viber, a collaborative approach has always come naturally: aside from working directly with our business clients, we have long relied on partnerships with other major stakeholders in the industry, including developers, MNOs, and, of course, our messaging partners. That includes joint efforts in driving product awareness, adoption, and customer education and onboarding.
But as Silvija Renusa pointed out, another form of inter-industry collaboration is being each other’s clients: for example, many MNOs work with aggregators, such as Infobip, to use Rakuten Viber as a communication tool to reach their customer base (for instance, with special offers and entire marketing campaigns). Similarly, our partnership with Netnumber helps Rakuten Viber solve our verification objectives at scale.
As our Chief Revenue Officer Cristina Constandache summarized it, “There is a place for every channel in this ecosystem, it’s just a matter of joining the dots. Finding a way to jointly educate the enterprises on how to best use the omnichannel.”
You can watch the recording of these sessions here:
Connecting the Dots: Building Untapped Synergies to Advance Businesses
Phone Number Verification: Must-Haves, Methodologies & Mastery