RCS, the next-generation messaging standard, is coming

Get involved with RCS early with imimobile and Google

Sudarshan Dharmapuri

The mobile industry is finally set on revolutionising messaging – and imimobile will be at the cutting edge together with Google

This month, imimobile joined Google’s RCS Business Messaging Early Access Program as a launch partner further cementing our position as an innovator in the customer interaction management space. This exciting initiative sees global telecoms operators and key messaging providers come together with Google to start testing implementation of the new message standard. So what is RCS – and how is it different from standard messaging?

A replacement for SMS?

The end of the traditional text message has been nigh for at least four years – if you believe the tech press. Back in 2013, TheNextWeb was one of a number of observers which predicted the demise of SMS as the number of messages sent by chat apps such as WhatsApp overtook SMS text messages for the first time.

However, while OTT and social messaging channels have continued to see a rise in consumer adoption, SMS remains the default A2P option for large businesses, who continue to favour the text message format for business-critical communications, notifications and alerts.

It must be said, though, that the plain text message now looks like the poor cousin of say, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger messages, with their rich media capability and functionality such as group chat - and it offers limited engagement potential for businesses using A2P.

The mobile industry and others are now coming together to change all this by pushing the adoption of RCS (Rich Communication Services), a new universal messaging standard which will soon deliver richer and more interactive features to everyday mobile messaging – effectively, an upgraded version of the current SMS experience, which won’t so much replace SMS as complement it. According to the GSMA, 60 global operators, device manufacturers and OS providers, representing 4.7 billion users, already support the RCS Universal Profile.

So what does the advent of RCS mean for enterprises?

The new RCS standard will include enhanced features such as:

  • secure and authenticated business messaging channel

  • file and media sharing (high res photos, audio etc.)

  • “hot buttons” which can replace links to websites or actions

  • suggested quick replies

  • rich cards, including rich graphics, data and QR codes

  • delivery and read receipts

  • end-user privacy and spam protection

  • chatbot support

This means it will offer businesses a complementary solution alongside SMS, and a more secure, engaging and interactive way to deliver actionable alerts straight into customers’ primary phone inbox.

Other advantages of RCS include ease-of-use (as it will be delivered through the native messaging apps preloaded on the phone) and trust (through verified accounts).

For businesses, the advent of RCS marks yet another shift towards messaging-oriented customer interactions, and adds another channel into the evolving messaging ecosystem (alongside SMS, Facebook Messenger, Twitter DM, WeChat and so on). As customers increase adoption and usage of these diverse channels, and the number of channels rises, the ability to orchestrate and automate customer interactions and journeys becomes a business imperative. This, of course, is where imimobile’s customer journey orchestration platform comes into its own.

Google at the forefront – and so is Webex CPaaS Solutions

Google is playing a key role in the RCS initiative, which should help accelerate adoption and launch of the new messaging platform. Google’s Android Messages client supports RCS messaging (alongside SMS and MMS) and it is partnering with 27 operators and device manufacturers to upgrade the native messaging experience with RCS.

Our participation in the Early Access Program means we can start driving awareness of RCS for A2P usage, test different use cases, and influence the development roadmap. We will also have access to resources on, for example, conversation design, and to the Google network of supported operators alongside our existing relationships with carriers on telecom channels.

This is great news for our own clients who want to be early to market with this new messaging channel, as we’re ideally positioned to help enterprises take advantage of the technology.

If you’re interested in seeing how RCS could potentially benefit your business, book a demo to find out more – and be part of one of the most significant launches in telecoms this decade.