Q&A | March 12, 2014

Why Solutions Providers Should Consider Offering Mobile Messaging — Now

Bernadette Wilson

By Bernadette Wilson, associate editor, Business Solutions magazine
Follow Me On Twitter @bernadeditor

Mobile Messaging Solution Providers

Business Solutions asked Anurag Lal, CEO at Infinite Convergence, about using mobile messaging for enterprise — and about solutions providers’ opportunities to add mobile messaging to their customers’ solutions.

BSM: What are the main reasons some industries have been slow to adopt mobile messaging?

Lal: In most industries, there are a lot of companies that have a mobile strategy, whether that’s mobile-optimized websites or mobile apps, and they think that’s enough. But what’s missing from those mobile strategies, in many cases, is that they do not cover how to communicate with all customers and employees using one simple tool — they’re missing the mobile messaging aspect. Also, many companies are less intimidated about using tools like email because they are not familiar with the advantages and ease of integration of mobile messaging into their current operations.

BSM: Is this communication secure?

Lal: Mobile messaging is inherently secure because it’s sent through a mobile network, rather than over the Internet. But, when a company sends a message to its customers, it could be going through other service providers before it reaches the customer. So, in some cases, enterprises will opt to use secure messaging solutions that encrypt the message to ensure enhanced security. There are both app-based and app-free solutions available for secure communication.

BSM: Are there regulations that certain industries must meet — like HIPAA compliance for healthcare?

Lal: Yes, there are a wide range of regulations that vary industry by industry. Other than healthcare, the financial industry has regulations in place to protect customer information. At Infinite Convergence, we try to understand how much and which information should be shared with customers through mobile messaging in the particular industries we’re working with, without sharing sensitive and personally identifiable information.

In many cases, we find we’re able to share basic levels of information while staying compliant with the security standards.  For example, a doctor’s office can send a message as simple as, “Dear Ms. X, you have an appointment scheduled for tomorrow at 9 a.m. Please reply YES to confirm.” Messages like this can be sent since there is no sensitive information shared, like the reason for the visit or test results.

We provide information for companies about what they can communicate to their customers’ mobile devices so that they are compliant with regulations and privacy specific to their industry. In some cases, when more sensitive and private information has to be shared, we provide secure messaging solutions that can work for them.

BSM: Is there opportunity for solutions providers to add mobile messaging to their customers’ IT solution?

Lal: Absolutely. Mobile messaging is the most effective way for enterprises to communicate with their customers, with about 90 percent of smartphone owners having their device within arms-reach 24 hours a day. Add to that secure messaging capabilities and an enterprise can achieve secure messaging to an unprecedented number of customers. While there are a lot of concerns right now regarding data theft, enterprises that use mobile messaging can address those by both preventing stolen customer information by alerting the customer to suspicious account activity, and, if a breach does occur, notifying the customer immediately.

BSM: Why do solutions providers need to consider it now?

Lal: One of the most urgent needs across almost every industry right now is to protect customers’ data and prevent unauthorized access. According to a study from Infinite Convergence, 91 percent of mobile phone owners open a text message within 15 minutes of seeing the notification. This is incredibly powerful information — it means, if a certain transaction has to be authorized or if there was a breach, mobile messaging is the way to notify customers and get their immediate attention.

And email isn’t the same. According to Symantec, about 90 percent of email these days is spam or promotions, and many people ignore enterprise emails as a result. Mobile messaging is a quick and effective way to get attention of the customer.

BSM: How can you best explain the benefits and ROI of mobile messaging to a customer?

Lal: In terms of using mobile messaging as a marketing tool, there are clear benefits over email or snail mail. For example, a company sending 100,000 communications with coupons via snail mail spends about $50,000 to $65,000 after printing those coupons and paying for postage. Sending a coupon code out to 100,000 customers via mobile message only costs about $2,000. And the conversion rates of the print campaign are about 1 percent, while the conversion rates for mobile is more like 10 percent. It costs more to do the print campaign and results in 10x fewer conversions.

If the enterprise uses mobile messaging very effectively, it can help to boost customer loyalty, keep the customer informed and stay compliant with a much lower spend compared to email or snail mail.

Incorporated in 2010 as a subsidiary of Infinite Computer Solutions LTD, Infinite Convergence Solutions is a result of Infinite’s strategic agreement with Motorola (now Nokia Siemens Networks). Motorola transferred its Messaging Products, employees and, intellectual property to Infinite. Infinite leverages its assets to service existing clients and to develop a range of mobile messaging products.