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RCS: Mobile’s Next-Gen Customer Interaction Platform: Page 3 of 3
The Mavenir concept is to create a consortium where the brand relationship is singular but can extend across many MNOs.
Mavenir is strategically partnering with Syniverse, a leader in connecting brands to digital advertising and customer interactions. Mavenir brings the integration technology and relationships with the mobile carriers, and Syniverse provides the relationships with the brands and their marketing campaigns. The strategy is to work with the four major U.S. MNOs (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon) for almost universal mobile reach, and the four major AI platforms (Amazon, Google, IBM, and Microsoft) to enable a wide range of choice in AI/bots. Mavenir indicated it expects live RCS deployments in 2019, including the business integrations.
While Mavenir clearly was building a case for and explaining the positioning of its RBM solution, it did allude to alternatives suggested by device manufacturers such as Google and Samsung. For example, Google has offered to host, for free, all the back-end transactions for an RCS-based customer interaction service platform in the U.S. The MNOs would just deliver the RCS traffic to Google and Google would do the rest, maintaining the relationships with the brands, building out the AI, etc. Mavenir’s position, which it suggested MNOs seem to be coming around to, is that this relationship essentially gives all the consumer data, advertising value, and control (that 6x revenue) to Google, potentially reducing the mobile operators to mere bandwidth providers, for messaging bandwidth that is generally included in the monthly subscription in the U.S.
Mavenir said it believes in an industry consortium in which it provides the interoperability and bot integration, Syniverse facilitates the brand relationships to the MNOs, and the MNOs are the primary operational and management entities. To accelerate MNO adoption, Mavenir is proposing the option of an initial revenue-sharing deployment model, with the option for the MNOs to transition to licensed-based deployments when volume and business models warrant. Another argument made for being distinct from Google is the use of gathered data for competitive advertising (all the ads you get in a category when you search for anything). In the RBM model, the relationships are absolute with the brands, though this is more of a business model than purely technical, so Google could respond.
I came away from the discussions believing that RCS is a potentially new customer interaction channel worth exploring. It has rich services, universal mobile availability (there are rumors Apple is preparing an RCS launch in 2019), tight device integration and functions, and no barrier of application download/adoption. The API integration to leading AI platforms assures that the interactions will be as natural and rich as possible. Mavenir’s RBM is a natural on-ramp into the contact center as the interaction moves from the bot domain into the human interaction arena. In the Vodafone trials of RCS compared to SMS, brands see up to 7x increases in click-thru rates, a factor that will warm the heart of every CMO. And at a Mavenir-sponsored RCS for business engagement session held earlier this year at Mobile World Congress, the Subway CMO indicated the company sees a 10x increase in click-thru when a picture is added to A2P messaging.
One area that may have major challenges is how existing CPaaS companies get access to the RCS services to deliver their value. Today, CPaaS companies like Twilio and Vonage Nexmo and carriers like Bandwidth and Tata offer CPaaS services based on the relatively open access to SIP trunking and SMS messaging. As RCS is an integrated service to the mobile IMS infrastructure, only MNOs with an IMS infrastructure can implement the solutions. CPaaS providers will have to develop relationships either with the MNOs or with a structure like the Mavenir RBM to access this new capability. Both the technical and business relationships for how third-party CPaaS companies will get access to RCS based rich customer services will have to be defined and codified. The value add of CPaaS providers over the underlying RCS services in this environment will need to be defined further.
Regardless of whether the MNOs and Mavenir/Syniverse are successful in creating the RBM platform or if Google, Samsung, or some other company succeeds, RCS should attract consumers with the simplicity and ease of use for arranging of casual and occasional brand interactions. This will result in an acceleration of use and an acceleration of brands wanting to be represented in this new environment. For enterprises, understanding this new customer channel and how to deploy and engage through it may be critical for customer satisfaction going forward. CPaaS and SMS integration took the industry by surprise; RCS-based messaging for business shouldn’t do the same.