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Why North America Needs a New Messaging Ecosystem

The current enterprise messaging framework is under pressure to fulfill consumer demand for new mobile messaging use cases, including appointment confirmations, customer care dialogues, conversational commerce, among others. In North America today, text messaging (SMS and MMS) is over-complicated for operators and enterprises and unable to meet the evolving demands of enterprise-to-consumer communication.

What's needed is a new messaging framework that provides a common, interconnected global messaging ecosystem that will fill the gap between person-to-person (P2P) messaging and application-to-person (A2P) messaging over short codes -- while providing a simpler, faster, and safer two-way communication channel for enterprises and consumers.

Current Landscape

Today's ecosystem makes enterprise messaging over-complicated while lacking the speed and scalability needed to meet the growing demand. The current enterprise messaging framework, established before the rise of communications platform as a service (CPaaS), doesn't reflect the kind of platform thinking and technical enablement necessary for enterprises to engage consumers who are increasingly demanding real-time, two-way communication. From case approval requirements to non-standardized interconnection layers, enterprises have insufficient visibility into their A2P services.

The issue for today is that enterprises (and their CPaaS vendors) only have two main options: short codes or long codes.

Unfortunately, the limited supply of short codes -- coupled with a lengthy, complex process of acquiring a code -- is inadequate to meet growing enterprise requirements. Currently, the maximum number of short codes available for use by all enterprises in the U.S. at a given time is approximately 880,000. This number is determined by the number of digits and total combinations possible in the short codes. And, the enterprise needs to set aside weeks for all participating wireless carriers to approve and provision a campaign.

Unlike short codes, there are plenty of long codes to go around. However, long codes were primarily designed for P2P messaging with almost zero cost for the users. For this reason, A2P messages sent over long codes are frequently blocked to avoid exploitation by rogue players.

CPaaS-Optimized Two-Way A2P Messaging Ecosystem

North America is in need of an ecosystem built on new platform technologies and cloud services that make enterprise messaging more user-friendly, scalable, flexible, and faster for the evolving needs of enterprise-to-consumer communications. We must address the current over-complicated and non-transparent ecosystem by offering a simple, online process and transparency through a centralized registry and standardized technical enablement. It's a critical time for everyone participating in traditional messaging to come together to establish a more competitive ecosystem in order to offer compelling value to enterprises. This is of even greater importance with the rise of over-the-top messaging channels such as Facebook Messenger, Skype, and WhatsApp.

In an ideal situation, when an enterprise decides to use mobile messaging to communicate with its customers or employees, it would be able to do so using a single Web dashboard -- similar to management of many cloud solutions these days. Within the dashboard, an enterprise would create a company profile and register phone numbers (fixed line or mobile) for two-way texting use cases with an independently managed system. Once an enterprise registers, the system would ping two parties that can approve or disapprove the use case: the operator and the DID provider.

A neutral Web administrator would run this independently managed system, with network access provided by interconnection hubs that abide by FCC and CTIA rules and guidelines. This fast and streamlined process would allow an enterprise to speed up its communications and related transactions, providing a way to integrate A2P messaging easily. Operators would be able to support enterprise-to-consumer messaging -- and the system would also make it easy for end consumers to look up the enterprise sender's identity -- fostering end-to-end transparency.

New Way Forward

Consumers have embraced mobile messaging as a conversation channel, and enterprises have responded by creating new use cases. This has created a lucrative opportunity for anyone participating in this space -- enterprises, CPaaS providers, and operators -- providing huge revenue potential for two-way enterprise messaging.

It's time for the North American messaging community to seize this opportunity and help enterprises connect with today's consumers in the way they want. The industry is ready for a new system that builds on the established messaging ecosystem, while extending the current limits in scale, speed, and convenience and bringing about a simple online process for both operators and enterprises.