Application-to-Person (A2P) messaging, enterprise messaging, business-to-client messaging and several other similar terms are used interchangeably for enterprise A2P SMS messaging. However, at its core all these terms refer to SMS messages that are sent from an entity which is a business, bank, service provider, etc. (i.e. not a human) to a human entity. A2P SMS messaging is thus different from our conventional understanding of SMS messaging, where a person sends a message to another person, or what is called person-to-person (P2P) messaging. Similarly, A2P messages can usually be identified by the codes and characters of the sender rather than a cell phone number.
Enterprise A2P SMS messaging was traditionally commercially oriented and this continues to be the case; this is also the reason why words such as enterprise, business, service provider, etc. are commonly associated with A2P SMS messages. However, in recent years the scope of A2P SMS messaging has increased manifold and these types of messages are now widely used by government agencies and security providers to issue alerts about almost everything ranging from natural disasters to encouraging electorates to cast their ballots on voting days. A common example of A2P SMS messaging in our daily lives is withdrawal and credit SMS statements being sent to our phones from our banks.
A2P SMS messaging has also substantially evolved from its nascent days in the late 90s and today’s A2P SMS messages are exponentially more nuanced, targeted and customer-specific. Some modern A2P SMS messaging providers even deploy artificial intelligence (AI) tools that attempt to mimic human responses to questions posed by users. This trend has its genesis in ecommerce providers and online service aggregators who use AI-enabled response systems to deal with consumer queries and complaints. Yet, despite all these developments, some basic challenges associated with enterprise A2P SMS messaging still persist.
Key among the challenges faced by enterprise A2P SMS messaging technology is credibility. Much research done into the field continues to suggest that people tend to ignore messages received from A2P SMS messaging platforms. Furthermore, even among those that open such messages, the acknowledgement level is abysmal. To offer a simple example, a consumer of a service provider may receive several messages stating that his or her ongoing service package is about to expire; some of these messages will also be opened and read. However, the consumer only takes up the matter and renews his subscription when a company executive physically calls him/her with an alert about immediate denial of services.
Closely related to the problem of credibility of A2P SMS messages is the instances of fake and spurious messages. As previously stated, A2P messages can usually be identified by the codes and characters of the sender. However, there have been several instances in the recent past where scammers have sent A2P messages to individuals by using characters that are similar (but not the same) to those of the person’s actual service provider; a parallel can be drawn between fake A2P messages and phishing emails in this regard.
Another challenge that is increasingly being faced by enterprise A2P SMS messaging technology is in terms of volume. This is since it has been observed that the high volume of A2P SMS messages being sent, an inevitability given the increase in number of consumers, is leading to burdening of cell phone networks. A2P SMS providers have been attempting to circumvent this problem by clubbing and classifying consumers, but this has so far yielded varying degrees of success since the pressure on cell phone networks has also been correspondingly increasing.
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Several steps have been taken by the enterprise A2P SMS messaging technology industry to overcome these problems since at its core the industry still remains flexible and has been quick to adapt to changes. However, this has led to a new set of problems. For example, in an effort to increase consumer confidence of A2P SMS messages, there has been an attempt to incorporate responsive AI technology; however, the flexibility of responses that this technology offers is so far limited, which has the potential to further deteriorate consumer confidence. Thus, much technological innovation and adoption is still required to bring enterprise A2P SMS messaging up to required standards.