Embracing new technologies can give companies a significant leap forward against the competition. Nestle saw a 9% improvement in sales precision by using AI to help with supply chain forecasting in their 447 factories worldwide.
The flip side of this is that the virtue of technology being new doesn't mean it will be successful. Look no further than HD-DVDs and Beta Max as examples. With text messaging being an ever-growing and essential part of business marketing, a new format is coming on the scene.
RCS (Rich Communication Services) is being touted by some, including tech giant Google, as being the successor to SMS messaging. Will this be the case, or is RCS going to end up like the Laser Disc?
What is RCS?
In a nutshell, RCS is a way to send text messages that include the kind of features found in apps like WhatsApp and Signal, but existing natively through a mobile device.
Multimedia like GIFs, call to action buttons, logos, QR codes, color, more robust contact options like customized buttons, and the option for customers to modify an order or reservation via a received RCS message are part of what makes this format stand out.
The best way to compare SMS to RCS is to look at a website from 1999 and one from today. It’s that big of a difference.
Benefits of RCS
The main advantage is that RCS will give smartphones and devices richer text messaging functionality now only found in chat and messaging apps. Customers also like it.
According to a report done by Open Market Research, 74%of customers said RCS messages made them want to communicate with a brand more. And, 80% said they find the RCS format appealing. And since RCS doesn’t rely on a wi-fi signal to function, it can be used more places and be more reliable than messaging apps.
Potential Drawbacks of RCS
The main issue many experts are forecasting is that some users may not like giving back their texting to mobile providers. People have gotten used to the privacy and security present in messaging apps like Signal, which use secure end-to-end encryption.
As of right now, RCS will not be offering that level of security and privacy – both of which are becoming more important to customers. RCS is more secure than SMS, but both are still subject to being legally intercepted and viewed by law enforcement and intelligence agencies around the world.
Also, as of right now, RCS is still carrier-specific. That means a business using Android wouldn't be able to send RCS messages to iOS users.
Google and other companies are working to change this, but this effort involves navigating the laws and regulations of telecoms from around the globe in addition to competing tech companies negotiating with one another. It could take a while.
Google is Pushing for RCS. Is that Good or Bad?
Google has become, in many ways, the backbone of the internet and web-based commerce. This means that any technology or platform they embrace will be an essential factor to consider. That said, this consideration starts and ends at how successful one of Google's platforms are.
Gmail has become so dominant that businesses can use it and still be professional. Then we have Google Plus, which is now dead. And we can’t forget Google’s tendency to pull support of services with little or no warning.
Another major factor to consider is privacy. Google and privacy do not mix. Using one of their services or platforms means turning over more personal information than most people are aware of. Consumers take privacy seriously – though paradoxically they don't want to pay for privacy. They believe that privacy should be a given.
A breach of customer data can be costly for a company. One case study found that TJ Maxx suffered more than $100 million in losses due to the 2017 data breach. The company saw the private and personal data of more than 10 million of their customers get stolen.
65% of people don’t like Google tracking their search history. This goes hand in hand with a growing distrust of Google and other big tech companies like Facebook. With Google pushing so hard for RCS, it isn’t unreasonable to imagine it being derailed if the format gets labeled as a new way for Google to spy on people.
Cybersecurity is a significant concern for any individual or company. Safety in this ever-increasingly connected world isn't guaranteed, even when it comes to tech giants like Google.
With Google making a big push to make RCS the global standard, that means we would also be putting all our messaging security eggs into one basket. Doing so may not be the wisest course of action. Recently, a major security flaw was discovered in the Android operating systems that has put 2.5 billion devices at risk.
Hackers send vulnerable Android-based models a fake OMA CP message saying the phone needs to update. Once in, the hacker can read the user’s emails and view all their internet history.
Which is Right for Your Business, SMS, or RCS?
RCS is nothing new. It’s a technology that began development in 2007. Will it be the new way text messaging is done over smartphones? Probably, but that isn’t guaranteed. SMS based texting still has plenty of functionality for most users.
There are several useful apps like WhatsApp and Signal for people who want a better user experience. RCS is clearly a better and more advanced technology than SMS in several measurable ways. But, RCS isn't going to be an overnight game-changer like when Apple introduced the first iPhone.
Don’t lose sleep over figuring out how or when to switch over from SMS to RCS. If what’s going on right now is any indicator, the move to making RCS the new standard is going to be a gradual one (gradual for new technologies at least) like the move from VHS to DVD.
Plus, SMS should still be supported for a while after this potential change. The only caveat might be how hard companies like Google favor RCS, which could involve SMS based messaged being artificially bottlenecked.
Even though this change isn’t going to be overnight, it is coming, and you should start readying your business for it right now. Around 251 million people are using RCS messaging services, and that number is growing.