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A Timeline of the Birth, Growth, Rise, and Eventual Domination of Rich Communication Services (RCS)

6 minute read - Posted by Daniel Wagstaff on Feb 20, 2019 6:00:00 AM

In the current fast-pace digital environment, providing companies from all industries and of all sizes with effective marketing solutions needs to be done in accordance with the latest trends and technologies. Not keeping up with the times we are living in means not keeping up with the demands of both customers and businesses. Therefore, succeeding in the world of digital marketing will always depend on the ability to see beyond traditional methods and solutions that are already comfortably implemented by the industry. The latest developments indicate that one of the most trustworthy marketing solutions, text message marketing, will soon be getting a worldwide-demanded makeover, in the shape of Rich Communication Services or RCS. With customers needing simpler yet more personalized interactions with the brands they love and use, this move should not surprise anyone in the marketing industry.

According to studies conducted by the digital industry, more than 50% of consumers in the United States would rather use SMS for activities such as customer support than call, thus creating the demand for a richer, more inclusive messaging method. When it comes to interacting with brands and businesses, people want to be offered services and communications that encompass all their current needs. If you are a marketer, it’s important to put a clear emphasis on ‘current’ as it will help you stay up-to-date not only with new solutions, but also with changes in your customers’ preferences. Independent of the methods you are using and the industries you are implementing them in, marketing will never be a static business.

Why Rich Communication Services?

When we think of text message communication we think both of the easiness with which we can broadcast our messages, but also of the limitations that come with such a channel. The GSM Association has been working on a way to reduce those limitations since February 2008 by developing a communication protocol aimed at replacing traditional SMS. The aim of RCS is to provide people with a much richer and inclusive method of communicating via text message. With RCS you could do all the things you are now doing through email, messenger chats or online forms, but from the comfort a simple and straightforward SMS interface.

RCS is meant to fully replace text messaging with time, and provide services such as: enriched messaging interface, action buttons, image and other media support, conversational AI, QR codes, real time metrics, enhanced customer support, and many other features. With the help of RCS, people and companies can communicate through a single app and have their needs met without having to go from text to email, from email to voice call, from voice call back to email for various confirmations or receipts. For example, you will be able to book a flight and make any change you want to your reservation from the text messaging app, or you can have a customer service conversation that won’t have to be promoted to voice call because of its complexity.

A Timeline of Rich Communication Services (RCS)

Due to its high demand, but also to its complexity and the endless possibilities it can offer, we have put together a timeline of the birth, growth, rise, and eventual domination of rich communication services. With this you will be able to improve your RCS knowledge, therefore make informed business decisions and stay one step ahead of your competitors. The understanding of RCS and how your company can implement such a solution lies in the methodical understanding of its evolution. From beginning as a mere need in the mind of consumers to becoming a dominant solution not only as a revolutionary mobile network protocol, but also as a trustworthy marketing method.

The Birth of Rich Communication Services

In February 2008, the GSM Association became the home of a project introduced in 2007 by a group of promoters supporting the Rich Communication Suite industry initiative. The scope of the project was to first create a framework and a definition for a richer communication solution that will replace SMS, and also to test its capabilities and integration possibilities. At this stage of the project the developments were theoretical and entrusted within the group, therefore not accessible by the general public, as is usually the case with similar ideas in the initial phases.

In 2012, RCS exited the incubator-like stages of the project and was introduced to mainstream audiences, with MetroPCs becoming the first US carried to support rich communication services under the GSMA’s joyn brand. By November and December of the same year, countries in Europe were also adopting RCS, and the services were expanded to more smartphone brands.

The Growth and Rise of Rich Communication Services

By 2013, RCS was already expanding across all North American carriers, and although the technology’s main concern was with the ability to be globally-implemented, things were starting to considerably change. And with the growth of RCS, came a much wider support for such a technology, and an overlapping with already-existing customer demands.

In 2014, RCS became an international phenomenon with the release of Jibe, a cloud company created for global implementation that offered an RCS hub service. It was also the year that rich communication services got the attention of marketers, as its global reach made it more appealing to the marketing industry. Having a new messaging solution at hand, one that can fully satisfy the demands of customers who needed a more personalized interaction with their favorite brands means also having a better marketing method for increasing marketing ROI.

In July 2015, Samsung partnered with T-Mobile to upgrade their messaging services. Yet the rise of rich communication services took a momentous step in September 2015, when Google announced that they would acquire Jibe Mobile along with their RCS department. This enabled Android-based smartphone brands to consider RCS a serious possibility and start to develop their products with RCS integration in mind.

Becoming less of stand-alone technology and more of a solution which could be integrated by providers and smartphone manufacturers from all over the world, RCS kept its ascending trend and in February 2016 reached another milestone. At the Mobile World Congress, Google partnered with the GSM Association and other global operators for the adoption of rich communication services and for deploying a consistent development of this emerging technology.

The years 2017 and 2018 brought more and more and more global partnerships and the development of application-to-person solutions for RCS, with October 2018 being the month when person-to-person RCS developments took a step forward. The end of 2018 had RCS expanding into the African market, but also creating a significant impression in the marketing industry, as more partnerships were announced.

The Future Domination of Rich Communication Services

RCS has been through a whirlpool of developments ever since its initial phases going back to 2008. In today’s times, when major brands from all over the world are adopting it, RCS is seen as the future of brand communications. Currently, the technology is supported by more than 50 launched or announced networks, and 157 million monthly active users. The same statistics show estimate that by the end of 2019, rich communication services will reach 1 billion active users. Yet the study’s forecast that speaks most of the future domination of RCS states that by the end of 2021, application-to-person SMS/RCS business messaging will be worth $74 billion.

Becoming a reality is not only a main goal for rich communication services but also one of the most expected developments of this technology for the future. As more and more customers are demanding the use of RCS, brands and marketers are becoming aware of how to use RCS in order to provide them with highly-improved communication services. Staying on top of the situation and one step ahead of your competitors means being up-to-date with new developments in the industry and interested in implementing RCS based on the particular needs of your customers and business.

Regardless of what the future will bring for the marketing industry, the fact that rich communication services will provide to be a trustworthy partner for providing quality services should no longer be an unknown variable. Whether you are a retailer, a restaurant manager, or market a portfolio of shopping centers, RCS can help you significantly improve the way you communicate with your target audience.