They’re Here! SMS, Chatbots & a Halo of AI

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Marketing is one of the most fluid disciplines out there—why? Because it ebbs and flows along with customer preferences and current technology trends, both of which are constantly changing.

Key traits of a good marketer include adaptability and flexibility, for this very reason. As we kick off the New Year full steam ahead, marketers should be honing in not only on the latest and greatest innovations hitting the scene, but also reflecting on those tried and trusted tools still performing perfectly.

To help marketers stay on top of these changes and meet the future with the best focus, here are my the top three specific marketing trends.

AI-Driven Service Bots

The whirlwind that is AI (Artificial Intelligence) has been building momentum throughout 2016, and it’s predicted to continue gaining strength this year. Combine this trend with SMS text messaging, which is already reigning king as the preferred channel of interaction between millennials and brands—75 percent of millennials choose texting over talking—and AI driven service bots are the natural extension. For example, a leading travel and leisure company in India is using AI service bots and SMS to answer common resort guest queries, and also frequent staff questions around holiday time and payroll. The ROI and improvement in customer experience (CX) is exponential. This next generation CX tool will have many mainstream applications in 2017 across industries including finance, tourism and customer care.

Biometric Identity Solutions

With the introduction and rapid popularity of consumer service bots such as Amazon Alexa (whose app has been downloaded 1.9 million times since it was released in 2014) and Google Assistant, the issue quickly creeping up is security—and whispering the word “fraud” in a crowded room is already as dangerous as the word “fire.” Part of the answer to this inevitable problem is biometric identity solutions, which include unique identifiers such as fingerprints, hand geometry, earlobe geometry, retina and iris patterns, voice waves, DNA, and signatures. For example, a smartphone could learn the way you walk, and deny access if your handset was being carried by someone with a different gait, speed and spatial pattern. Biometric identity solutions are primed to fast become a critical success factor in further adoption of the home-service bot.

Mobile-Centric Solutions for Healthcare

Expect new mobile-centric solutions for personal healthcare to flourish. For example, Philips Healthcare develops complex patient imaging machines such as MRIs which use superconductor magnets that must be kept chilled at all times. When the chiller fails and temperatures rise, the entire machine shuts down—costing up to $100,000 to resolve. To ensure potential issues are addressed as quickly as possible, Philips developed the e-Alert solution, which is run through text messaging channels. If the remote sensors detect anomalies, a mobile message is sent to all the relevant recipients, so they can act quickly to prevent a critical failure of machinery. As a result, Philips has helped deliver better quality of care and improve overall operational efficiencies. Engineers will often pre-empt issues before they occur thanks to the sophistication of the Philips eAlert sensors, and the speed and reliability of SMS.

SMS

Notwithstanding any misconception that SMS is an outdated technology, text messaging will remain THE most effective channel to reach people globally, with a current reach of over six billion people and rising. A whopping 76% of consumers are already demanding more SMS communication capabilities from preferred businesses across a variety of marketplaces, as SMS is more convenient and less disruptive than traditional channels like email and voice. Armed with this information, we can expect to see E2P (enterprise to person) traffic continue to grow as more global brands look at ways to improve the mobile user experience, without relying on less ubiquitous technology such as standalone apps.

While consumers may be fickle, I believe a recurring trend we can rely on is SMS text messaging. As SMS continues to pick up new global enterprise adopters, and evolve with innovations like AI and chatbots, the communication channel is maturing along with its users. I expect to see SMS set the pace in annual forecasts for years to come.
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