While the rise of A2P messaging based on SMS and Ucas two-way voice services provide a booming value-added services (VAS) arena for telemedia companies to grow and expand, there are also a range of key content types where VAS where the interaction and messaging capabilities of telemedia players comes into its own.
So what’s hot in 2019?
Post-Christmas we all look to join the gym or get into shape by walking, running or cycling, but this year health apps on smart devices offer the ideal way to get this done.
And they offer a healthy boost to telemedia VAS, especially direct carrier billing and messaging. Connecting smart devices to apps allows these services to interact with the user, which as our lead story points out (above) means messaging between the app and the user. This is increasingly done using SMS.
There is also the opportunity to sell add-ons within the app – true value adds – and carrier billing, as we see on page 11, offers the ideal way to make this happen.
According to research by Ericsson, 31% of consumers soon expect to go to ‘mind gyms’ to practice thinking, as everyday decision-making becomes increasingly automated. This ‘mental obesity’ is driving up the market for educational, and fun-ducational apps and services, where users get to do puzzles and/or learn from their phones.
Not only do these services need A2P VAS messaging, but again can run carrier billing as a means of paying for what goes on within them.
For example, mobile payment and content company RGK is working with Vodacom in Romania to handle billing for mobile services that include Wellness (a fitness app), LetMeDance (a dancing tutorial), SunnyGames (a game portal) and a fitness service for renowned personal trainer Lazar Angelov. RGK will also provide local customer support to all service subscribers.
“It’s a classic win-win for both companies – Vodafone gains greater traction for lucrative premium mobile services, and RGK enjoys the potential for future growth within the Vodafone network,” says Roman Taranov, CEO of RGK Mobile.
Cooking up success
According to the Ericsson study, more than half of AR or VR users want apps, glasses and gloves that give virtual guidance for practical, everyday tasks such as cooking or carrying out repairs. While this is someway off, the delivery of cooking related help via apps is also on the up. Big Oven, Yummly and even Jamie Oliver, all offer free cooking apps.
Where it gets interesting is in how to use those apps to upsell other recipes, link to food retailer and delivery apps and to offer enriched content. All of these offer to deliver VAS opportunities again around billing, messaging and even Ucas two-way voice.
Next generation VAS
So what does the future hold for value-added telecom services? 5G is going to open up the world to unprecedented levels of connectivity for devices so there is going to be ‘more only bigger’ of everything. A2P messaging is likely to be almost limitless in this brave new world, but what sorts of things are we likely to be connecting?
Many consumers see virtual assistants as being able to autonomously order essentials that are needed in the home, as well as handling routine subscription renewals.
According to Ericcson, 39% also want devices to keep closer tabs on the homes carbon emissions and help to reduce environmental impact.
Perhaps most alarming of all, however, is that 48% want online avatars that mimic them so completely that they can effectively be in two places at once.
These services, while amusing addenda to the VAS debate, are achievable with today’s technology and it is only a matter of time before we start to see them appear.
And behind them will be the basic SMS and Ucas services pioneered by telcos and telemedia players over the decades. The future looks interesting.
Tapping into millennials
As millennials continue to become the dominant force in the retail market, new research by retail and telco technology expert Conversity has revealed that this shift is having a gradual but hugely significant impact on the expectations that consumers have when it comes to their dealings with telcos.
The research – which polled 1,000 consumers from across the UK – found that eight in ten millennials (81%) believe that receiving recommendations for relevant telco products, bundles or contracts is important, but this figure stands at 68% for Generation X and 67% for the baby boomer generation.
Similarly, when it comes to the quality of the advice given by the telco provider when consumers shop online, 86% of millennials consider this important, falling to 79% for Generation X and 69% for baby boomers.
To meet the challenge posed by this generational shift, organisations need to find a way to empower staff across all sales channels to provide this personalised, high-quality service to their younger customers, without sacrificing the approaches that are successful with older consumers. This is especially pertinent given that 29 per cent of overall respondents said that they would like to have access to technology which helps them compare product features and benefits, with little variation across generations.