Short message service, usually called SMS, is a globally accepted wireless service for enterprise messaging (mobile value added services) that enables the transmission of alphanumeric messages between mobile subscribers and external systems such as electronic mail, paging, and voice-mail systems.
The text comprises letters or numbers or an alphanumeric combination. SMS was created as part of the GSM Phase 1 standard. Each short text message is up to 160 characters is length when Latin alphabets are used and 70 characters in length when non-Latin alphabets such as Arabic and Chinese are used.
SMS comprises two basic point-to-point services:
- Mobile-Terminated short message (MT)
- Mobile-Originated short message (MO)
SMS Mobile-Terminated (SMS MT)
SMS (MT) are transported from the SMSC to the handset and can be submitted to the SMSC by other mobile subscribers via MO-SM or by other sources such as voice-mail systems, paging networks, or operators
SMS MT Services allow the deployment of various applications such as:
- Information Services (loyalty card members, delivery confirmation etc.)
- Real-time notifications and alerts (banking, finance and stock alerts, travel, sporting results)
- Direct Marketing offerings (promotions, new product announcement, events and shows, m-coupons)
- Ring tones, Logo downloads
- Quiz, live games
SMS Mobile-Originated (SMS MO)
SMS MO are transported from a MO-capable handset to the SMSC and can be destined to other mobile subscribers or for subscribers on fixed networks such as paging networks or Internet protocol (IP) networks (including the Internet and private e-mail networks).
SMS MO Services are typically used in deploying applications to receive information from Mobile users to an external short messaging entity, which is typically a computer connected to the internet. Such request for information is made by sending an SMS from their mobile phones to a service number linked to the service of the content provider.
Typical SMS MO service examples are dedicated requests, voting or quiz applications. A customer can register his request for information e.g. Text 'Product ABC' to +44 7979458584 to know the product details of the product or to text 'Yes' to a mobile number to confirm presence in an event.
Why do enterprises need SMS based mobile data services?
SMS based mobile data services are not necessary for every enterprise or every division within an enterprise. As with any new communications/ IT application or service, the investment and cost of an implementation must be balanced by a sufficient economic return. Several research firms have stated that two to three years after a mobile data services implementation a company should see a positive return on their investment.
However, there are a few compelling reasons for enterprises to get on to tap the potential of SMS based mobile data services. For many enterprises, such wireless initiatives form ways to advance customer service, productivity, cost reduction, or simply functionality necessary to remain competitive.
A good example is the financial industry where wireless services have played a role in maintaining competitive position in the consumer market. Many leading banks, stock brokers and mutual funds have already started such service in which their customers receive pre-defined 'business-rules' driven alerts or notifications. These notifications or alerts are a result of SMS enabling of business processes. Such a service eliminates the need of conventional getting connected on voice, thereby reducing direct communication cost and indirect costs (time of people making voice calls) and complexity involved in the business process.
Of late, innovative and cost effective and business models for SMS based mobile data services have emerged by which the enterprises are not required to own the wireless communication infrastructure required for the said service. Instead, they get all the benefits by the hugely successful 'pay-as-you-go' model. This reduces total cost of ownership of the new initiative.
There are a few Mobile Value Added Service Providers (MVASP) that have emerged in the past couple of years which provide high quality service as compared to operators, who do not focus in enterprise wireless messaging as the size of the market is sub-optimal from the perspective of operators. Moreover, the expertise required in providing high quality and end-to-end service requires expertise in both IT industry and telecommunications verticals which makes this service offering unique. Many enterprises globally are already benefiting from such SMS based wireless initiative to reduce cost and increase operational efficiency at work.
To deliberate and decide, whether SMS based mobile data services will provide tangible economic benefit to their business, there are a number of questions enterprises should ask can themselves. This type of strategising is a first step in defining the value SMS based mobile data services provide and is necessary to avoid initiatives that provide "neat" capability without sufficient and early return. When evaluating your needs for mobile data services, questions to ask include:
- What all business processes, in which if the concerned person gets to know relevant information on the move, he/she will be able to take desired action?
- Is a significant percentage of an organisation's work or workforce away from a fixed place of business?
- Is my enterprise ready for such a kind of initiative?
- Would such an initiative have the potential to reduce my total cost of communications?
- Can remote users easily access pertinent information from internal systems?
- What are my competitors doing with regard to wireless applications?
- Will using SMS based mobile data services improve my customer service?
Mobile data services are aimed to increase operational efficiency and reduce costs. When computing the actual return on a wireless initiative, one must look at cost savings from increased efficiencies, productivity, customer satisfaction, and other such metrics. This is substantially more complex than discounting revenue generation, because many of the metrics are approximates and many of the benefits very subtle, but this estimation gives the most accurate measure of success.