Other than actual P2P messaging, are there other commercial use cases for leveraging the P2P messaging ecosystem?
In today’s ever-changing ecosystem, the answer is a resounding YES! I have highlighted a couple of examples below:
In common group-messaging scenarios, group (or club) messaging is provided through an app or online service. The group owner is assigned a group telephone number (TN). Group members may join the group by sending messages to the group TN to subscribe to or unsubscribe from the group. The group owner may solicit other subscribers via SMS to join the group or may create the group from a list of TNs (such as a church, school, class, club, family, or any other type of group). Again, there are numerous variations.
Typically, SMS-based groups built in this manner are recommended to have no more than 60 members; however, this limitation is somewhat ambiguous, as it is not clear whether the group size is defined by one MNO/service provider or all MNOs/service providers. A typical scenario goes like this:
A user sends a message to the group.
Group members receive messages from the group TN.
Group members can reply individually (to the group owner) or to the entire group, depending on the capability of the service.
The key is that the group members have the ability to originate messages to the group owner or to all members of the group through the main group TN. It is different from an alerting service, in that the message to group members is human generated rather than being automated or software generated.
Call Center and Customer Support
The call-center or customer-support scenario is an increasingly common use of P2P SMS. Using a text-enabled vanity landline or toll-free number as a method by which to engage with a business is gaining acceptance in the United States. Subscribers simply text questions or even requests to order products or services to the designated number. The business call-center personnel manually respond to incoming texts with the information needed or to complete an order.
The call-center scenario may also include auto-responders – that is, automated responses that would indicate some status regarding the exchange or transactions (for example, “a customer service representative will respond to your request within 3 minutes”).
Can these types of scenarios be acceptable over P2P messaging routes? Yes, call-center scenarios are acceptable on P2P networks and provide an alternative, asynchronous means to engage a call center or customer service center. The mobile subscriber initiates the exchange with an SMS sent to the call center (through a vanity number – toll free, landline, mobile, or otherwise).
The back and forth is human generated. Some automated responses can be supported, as long as their content does not become advertising.
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William Dudley Group Director, Mobile Evangelist and Global Solutions Strategy, SAP Digital Interconnect