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Predictions: The Communications Trends That Will Shape 2022

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James Stokes, Enterprise Team Lead UK & Ireland at Infobip takes a look at blended channels, 5G, RCS, SMS, and beyond as he assesses the comms trends of the industry in 2022

Restrictions imposed by the pandemic meant that, over the last two years, organizations had to adapt quickly to “think digital”. But today, simply thinking digital isn’t enough. New channels have taken center stage, technology has innovated, and the experience customers expected in 2019 is very different from the one they demand today. With that in mind, here are my predictions for the communications trends set to shape 2022.

small: we’re social

A renewed focus on blended channels

It was important last year, it’s been important this year, and it’ll be important next year — getting the right combination of channels is always critical.

Take WhatsApp as an example. A recent survey from MobileSquared estimates that 2.19 billion people were using WhatsApp at the end of 2020, which is forecast to reach 3.14 billion at the end of 2025. To maximize messaging opportunities on the platform, API spend will soar, jumping from US$312.9 million in 2020 to a predicted US$16.4 billion in 2025.

Despite gigantic growth prospects, people do not live on WhatsApp alone. We carried out research on the demands and expectations for customer service pre and post the first lockdown, which revealed there was no one preferred channel. For example, 31% chose to contact a company via live chat vs 28% via phone. Knowing how customers want to interact with brands is key to developing a winning communication strategy, and this means enabling conversation to continue from one channel to another.

The Power of Speech will continue in 2022. According to a study by GfK, 29% of people in Britain now own a smart speaker and Forrester predicts the number of households with smart speakers in the EU will reach 57.5 million by 2024.

Driven by younger generations, more customers will rely on voice to search for their favorite product or request information. Adding a reliable voice option to your communication channels mix will help nurture customer relationships.

The monetization of 5G will ramp up

This new generation of mobile

technology has been talked about for years, but has finally made its mark in offering faster, more efficient capabilities in the telecommunications space. It’s a technology that in some cases can provide 100 times higher connection speeds than previous generations.

In 2022, monetization of this channel will be the focus. 5G subscriptions are expected to grow, reaching 3 billion subscriptions by 2025.

Smarter homes and cities, driverless cars, and smart factories are just some of the possibilities opened up by 5G technology. Most will take some time to arrive, yet in order to monetize them when they do, communication and digital service providers must act and prepare right now.

Rich communication heading in the right direction

Customers are gravitating towards rich, interactive, two-way communication with brands. Rich Communication Services (RCS) is the next step in the evolution of mobile messaging., providing a mobile app’s rich functionality within an SMS inbox. This means brands can add their logo, brand name, videos, images, and carousels to messages to increase conversion with every interaction.

Despite uptake being slower than anticipated in recent years, MobileSquared expects that by 2025, 176 networks will have launched person-to-person (P2P) RCS services over their own RCS messaging platforms – a 100% increase from 2019. Among Infobip clients, we’ve witnessed even bigger growth – with 14.2 billion messages in 2021, that’s a 3684% increase from 2020.

The adoption of rich channels should also be driven by both Google and Apple launching their own business messaging channels this year, meaning customers can start a conversation with business through common entry points like Google Search and Maps. It will be interesting to see the impact these newer channels have on engagement and conversation rates.

SMS remains an anchor for digital comms

SMS still stands out as the most ubiquitous medium for messaging. Next year, expect no change. Mobilesquared’s Global A2P SMS Databook Report states that by the end of 2020, there were 5.2 billion unique SMS users, which is expected to increase to 6.03 billion by 2025.

Given nine in ten people open their text messages, and more than half read them within a couple of minutes, it’s easy to see why SMS communication is still the foundation for successful digital comms. Our Cyber Week figures reinforce its importance, where from the 4.23billion messages Infobip sent across Black Friday and Cyber Monday, SMS was the most used channel with 1.7billion messages sent.

SMS continues to evolve in ways that represent significant new revenue opportunities for both mobile carriers and businesses. What’s important though is that businesses ensure they are as creative and engaging as possible with SMS campaigns, especially as we know consumers will waste no time in “opting out” of texts that don’t catch their attention.

A secure and frictionless experience

Creating an ecosystem of trust and innovation should be at the core of how operators and businesses work – not only to protect customers but to ensure as smooth an experience as possible.

Sadly, we’ve seen a rise in SIM swapping in recent years, where cybercriminals can intercept the transferal of an existing phone number to a new SIM. Recently a hacker from Missouri was imprisoned for his part in a SIM hijacking campaign, which saw millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency stolen from victims.

With dangers like this growing, what needs to happen, and what we might see movements made towards in 2022, is the establishment of a fresh security standard.

Mobile identity – the process of verifying a user’s identity through their mobile device, using session data securely held by a person’s mobile phone service provider, is the gold standard of authentication. This comes by checking the IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) number connected to the SIM card. If there is no concern, the authentication will happen silently in the background without interrupting the user experience. But if that IMSI number has changed, this is flagged

as suspicious activity. The user will then be contacted by the service provider

With consumer needs continually evolving and people shopping or interacting on mobile devices, social networks, and online marketplaces, businesses already know the value of meeting customers where they are. Putting efforts into providing a friction-free, connected, and secure experience is the basis for creating satisfied customers that keep coming back for more. 2022 will see security take its rightful place in the recipe for customer journey success.

Final words

One of the key themes for businesses will be utilizing blended channels to get their messages across, depending on whether the customer likes to receive messages via Google, Instagram or WhatsApp. Rich messaging will grow in prominence. And we anticipate another strong year for everyone’s favorite SMS, with a security front of mind.

Communication requires strategic thinking. It’s not as simple as throwing coins at projects to increase messaging options – sending the right message on the right platform at the right time – and ensuring a secure experience throughout – is the name of the game. I, for one, am looking forward to the year ahead.

Author

James Stokes is Enterprise Team Lead UK & Ireland at Infobip

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