Mark Bridge writes:
Nottingham-based Esendex Limited has been supporting businesses with messaging services for over ten years. Yet with SMS messaging celebrating its 20th birthday in the UK this year, it would be easy to think the no-nonsense short message is now being threatened by social networking, mobile email and picture messages.
That’s not the case, explained Geoff Love, Chief Commercial Officer of Esendex.
“I think what’s great about SMS is its ubiquity really. It’s all very well having apps, it’s all very well having things which work off smartphones, but not everybody’s got a smartphone and not everybody can be assured that there's going to be 3G or WiFi coverage all the time. If you’re doing messaging which is what we would call ‘mission critical’ - that might be a man in a van going to household emergencies, or a guy doing deliveries, or you’ve got a mobile sales force that you need to talk to quite urgently - those kind of people need to know that their messages are going to get to them very quickly no matter where they are, even if they’re in the Highlands of Scotland. And SMS works extremely well; I think there’s a stat like 95% of messages are read within 5 seconds, so it has an amazing cut-through. I guess in some ways like Twitter, its simplicity is its beauty really. It’s quick and it’s to the point.”
One of the biggest challenges facing messaging providers is SMS spam. I asked Geoff how it was happening - and what the industry was doing about it.
“It seems to me a relatively recent phenomenon. One of the greatest selling points for SMS over the last few years has been that, unlike email, it doesn’t have spam filters - so when you send an SMS you know it’s going to get there, which isn’t the case with email. What we always say to our customers is that SMS is extremely powerful but with that power comes responsibility. You need to use it wisely, you need to use it appropriately and you need to understand that when you’re sending someone a message it has a massive impact on how your brand is perceived. So it’s not in anybody’s interest to be sending out messages where the customer isn’t receiving value for them.”
“I think we as an industry probably need to do an awful lot more, we probably need to work a lot harder to root out the people who are involved in spamming and in using SMS in a way that doesn’t enhance the value that the industry can bring. If we’re not careful, SMS could go the same way as email which would be terrible for everybody. The other thing as well is that there’s a responsibility on the mobile network operators to ensure that they are shutting down any of these ‘grey’ routes that the spammers are using. And, to be fair, that is beginning to happen now. What’s making spam proliferent in email is that it’s free. If spam is free in SMS then it will continue; if it becomes very expensive to send a spam message then the spammers will disappear.”
We went on to talk about the legal liability of messaging companies and the future of business messaging, as well as Geoff’s personal perspective on the mobile industry. You can listen to the full interview via the built-in audio player on our website, by downloading the MP3 file or by finding the podcast on iTunes.