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EDITOR’S BLOG 270717 interacting with the future

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Telemedia has always been about facilitating and monetising interaction – but the ways in which consumers can (and increasingly are going to choose to) engage and interact with brands, services and more are changing. Rapidly changing.

The promise of Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR and AR) are already whetting consumer appetites, with more people than ever now wanting these technologies built into their devices. These technologies are going to rapidly – and I mean by next year – change how many entertainment services operate, offering a far more immersive and augmented experience. And this will change dramatically how consumers want to interact with them.

Now that doesn’t just mean donning a VR headset and loosing oneself in a game or whatever delights the adult industry concocts, it means that programmes like, say Love Island or X-Factor are going to have another experiential channel to their bow – and that will mean new ways to interact.

What will fill that gap? Text. But not as we know it today.

While consumers are chomping at the bit to use virtual, augmented and mixed reality services – even reshaping how smartphones are designed – SMS and chat are under going some fundamental shifts in how they are used, how they work and what they can deliver.

SMS still has many more miles left in the tank, but as OTT-based instant messaging adds more functionality and richness, so text is having to evolve. Enhanced text and 5G’s Rich Communications Services (RCS) are well on their way to becoming standard – certainly what they can deliver is.

Similarly, chatbots are also – almost imperceptibly to consumers – creeping into the interaction mix, allowing many facets of brand or VAS interaction to be automated and therefore streamlined without anyone really knowing.

In fact Ovum finds that application to person SMS is set to boom between now and 2019, growing from an already impressive 1.16 trillion messages today to 1.28 trillion, with 42% and 35% of enterprises increasing their use of SMS for transactional and promotional messages respectively this year.

This shift in technology should be a boom to telemedia companies. Adding in this functionality makes their offering and monetisation models even more appealing across a wider range of verticals – heck, it even boosts tried and tested formats such as competitions and voting, if you think about it.

Whether you agree or not, everyone dealing in messaging in the telemedia space, however, is going to have to get on board with this way of thinking. OTT messaging is already driving a revolution in what ‘text’ looks like and what it involves. Think about what WhatsApp, iMessage and now even Skype let you do. Look at how Instagram and Vine have changed what social messaging means. RCS/Enhanced text will offer the same – and will keep text relevant and used. Otherwise, the craving for rich interaction that consumer still have in spades will be lost to these other services.

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Editor and content creator for Telemedia – for 18 years and counting

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