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    EDITORIAL Value-added services, billing and media engagement score big for telemedia in 2019

    Many people received fitness devices for Christmas. Even I, a committed indolent, got one. This shift towards such tech, however, is part of a wider boom for the value added telemedia services business: in fact it is perhaps the sector’s biggest area of growth.

    These devices, along with a plethora of other services that rely on apps to functions, are driving an almost hidden boom in VAS. Each of these devices – along with the likes of Amazon Alexa, Uber and even DPD’s parcel tracking app, to name just a tiny few – needs to talk to their inherent app, delvier messages and, in some cases, also add in voice. All this becomes part of the telemedia-telecoms-SMS pantheon of services and is, in the words of Martyn Lambert, head of ZephryTel, “SMS’s biggest hidden market”.

    This move to deliver the link between smart devices and apps (and their users) has crept up on us with stealth, but it is driving the telemedia industry forward.

    The deal we reported last time between telemedia VAS company Telserv and telco giant Telefonica, does just this. As Telserv’s co-founders Johan van der Lijcke and Marco Dunhof explain in our Telemedia Viewpoint this week, the world is changing and telemedia VAS players hold the key to delivering that change.

    The Telefonica deal helps the giant carrier offer the kinds of VAS it needs to service this new economy in markets such as Latin America and, as Dunhof points out, is the first of several big plays with telcos that Telserv is undertaking in the coming months.

    Companies such as Uber, which essentially operates from an app, needs messaging. It also, increasingly, needs voice services and more. Telemedia companies are well placed to help other players deliver these services to these companies.

    The shift to delivering VAS extends to other aspects of telco life too. Increasingly, young consumers demand more from the brands they interact with and want a better level of service from telcos. Especially when it comes to customer service and information, they want quick and easy access to information and the ability to get that information in the channel they choose.

    This again brings us back to the kinds of services that telemedia players have delivered for years: voice and SMS primarily.

    These services are the lowest common denominator in how to carry traffic and so, while the consumer may see in-app push messaging or OTT services, in reality they are being ‘carried’ by SMS.

    This is why telemedia has a bright future. On the one hand, mobile payments are booming – making it a shoe-in for direct carrier billing to take its slice fo the market – on the other you have the basic telemedia transport methods – SMS and voice – underpinning the new and growing app-to-app and app-to-person messaging and interaction.

    If you had three hands you could also point to how media interaction around other events – not least the Super Bowl this past weekend – show that much of these two things are coming together to create new interactive and ecommerce-driven interactive services. Now that’s a touchdown!

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