It can’t be a whole week since MWC ended can it? My feet still hurt. As the dust settles on the largest show yet – 150,000 people, all of whom, I suspect, walked into me – it is time to reflect on what we learned. So what were the key takeaways this year?
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RCS is ready (nearly)
For me, the big one was RCS. While it got a bit of a knocking at World Telemedia in Marbella in October, MWC saw many more telemedia players talking about the potential for RCS – some of it in ways that were less that obvious.
RCS has been talked about for many years as an ‘up grade’ to text. The nagging doubt has always been that SMS doesn’t really need an up grade: it works across all networks and all devices – so well, in fact, that it underpins many of the A2P messaging services currently taking off, including Alexa.
However, relentless efforts to find a use case for RCS seems to be paying off. As Infobip’s Zeljko Bak outlines, retailers, ecommerce, fintech and now Twitter are all trying it out for customer services.
The beauty of RCS is that it is interactive. It allows a sort of two way chat to happen. Twitter is trying it out in Mexico to re-engage lapsed users and is A-B testing it against email. Infobip is running this for the social media company and, as Bak outlines in the video below, it is starting to gain some traction.
Similarly, Sinch – formerly known as CLX (180 in Roman numerals, fact fans) – is finding that early adopters in pharma and retailers, as well as a number of other companies with high levels of consumer interaction are also starting to eye RCS. It brings much richer and much more conversational, two-way interaction. It also allows for the carriage of images and video – something that is starting to peak the interest of marketers in retail and ecommerce.
As Sinch’s Robert Gerstmann outlines in the video below, RCS is starting to be eyed, but has so far been held back by not being available across all networks in many key markets. But, this year, the US, UK, France and Germany are likely to adopt it. This will give it critical mass.
If Gertsmann and Bak are right – and their list of trial users suggests that they are – 2019 is set to be the year of RCS. Telemedia get ready: it offers a huge new potential way to create exciting interactive and value-added services.
Carrier billing is coming
Direct carrier billing (DCB) also showed its mettle at MWC. Thanks to PSD2, it is starting to make in-roads into mainstream sales. Even Microsoft is using it.
According to Reka Matyas, VP, MNO Competence Center, Dimoco – the company with the most direct connections into MNOs around the world – gaming, software, ticketing and other markets are all starting to show growing interest in DCB.
Why? As Matyas says in the video below, everyone has a mobile phone, so carrier billing makes sense as the go to way to bill. It is quick and easy.
Interestingly, there is also a growing tie up between DCB and RCS. One of the interesting aspects of RCS is that it potentially allows consumers to buy from the message – and carrier billing is a going to be a key payment mechanism here.
Using RCS to deliver marketing on, say, an event and offering the ability to buy from that RCS marketing message a ticket to that event with one click using DCB is as seamless as it is going to get.
It also starts to take ecommerce away from the world of browsers and into direct purchasing – something that is going to also be driven by voice devices. Welcome to the world of Browser-less commerce people.
Quality is queen
Another interesting idea to come out of MWC is the idea of quality in value added content services. For years the maxim “Content is King” has been bandied about and, while true, it is only half the story.
As Julia Dimambro, head of Seriously Fresh Media, points out in the video below, many service providers are now coming under pressure from MNOs that offer carrier billing for content services, to offer good, high-quality, valuable content.
While operators are still keen to stress that marketing and flows are on the level, they are also now wanting to make sure that any service providers are offering really good content, of a high quality – not wanting to associate their billing with poor content.
So what did we learn at MWC?
This year’s MWC felt to me like something of a watershed for the technologies, markets and companies in the telemedia industry that I have come to know and love over the years I have been writing about it.
While for many years there has been a downer on what the industry has been doing, suddenly it finds itself right at the pinnacle of the mobile value chain.
My feet may well still hurt from the long walk between Hall 1 and Hall 8.1, but that walk showed me the way the mobile industry is built: from the equipment at the bottom right through to the content, services and billing that telemedia delivers right at the top.
Suddenly, Hall 8.1 is telemedia – and it was packed. Here were all the guys and gals who have created interesting services and technologies and who are poised to turn things like DCB and RCS into globe-straddling business tools.
And to take things further, World Telemedia– the Marbella-based cousin of Hall 8.1 – in October will help the industry and its wider value chain and customers capitalise on this even more. 2019 is going to be a hot year and it starts now.
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