The business communication landscape is undergoing a significant transformation, driven by the emergence of Rich Communication Services (RCS), a communication protocol aimed at replacing SMS messaging.

By Olatayo Ladipo-Ajai, country manager at Infobip Nigeria

Unlike traditional text-based SMS, RCS is redefining the way businesses engage with their customers, and it is anticipated that the increasing adoption of technologies such as Communications Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) will be the main driver for enterprises leveraging operator-led RCS channels for rich business messaging.

A study by Juniper Research has found that the global number of active RCS users will reach 1,1-billion in 2024, up from 930-million in 2023. The rising adoption of RCS signifies a fundamental change in how businesses connect with their customers.

While SMS remains a powerful channel that brands use extensively because of its reach and device support, it has some limitations that RCS successfully compensates for with its rich feature set.

For example, SMS is typically a one-way messaging platform, whereas RCS supports a two-way communication channel that allows interactive messages to be sent, allowing interactivity between both sender and receiver. SMS can be used to deliver an alert, notification or One-Time Password, RCS can be used for transactional messaging, calls to action or obtaining customer feedback.

Sender verification

Another advantage that RCS holds over SMS is sender verification, which is a key feature of RCS that increases trust and thus drives the adoption of this channel for business messaging. Similarly, unlike SMS, RCS offers better security in the form of end-to-end message encryption.

By adopting RCS to engage with their customers, businesses can access analytics that are not available on the SMS platform, which allows them to analyse customer behaviour. For example, RCS enables organisations to track open rates, how long it took for a customer to open a message and what actions were taken once they opened the message, such as whether they clicked on a link or further explored a particular product promotion.

There are several fundamental ways in which RCS is expected to transform the landscape of business communication. RCS allows messaging to shift from being passive to becoming an active engagement. By providing richer multimedia content, customers can expect interactive experiences and deeper engagement with their brands and ultimately a better customer experience.

Additionally, based on user analytics, RCS messaging allows for customer segmentation and more personalised interactions, while also enabling businesses to automate their communication through the addition of chatbots that process simple requests and frequently asked questions and ensure 24/7 engagement.

Measuring the impact

One of the most significant advantages of RCS for businesses is its measurability. RCS allows organisations to measure the impact of their campaigns, thus enabling them to make informed decisions.

However, businesses still face some common challenges when implementing RCS. Since RCS is relatively new, especially in the African region, there is some technical complexity that comes with the implementation of the platform. These challenges can be mitigated by choosing the right communication platform vendor to assist the organisation to transition to RCS.

Another challenge is that RCS is currently only compatible with Android devices, but concerted efforts are being made by various parties and stakeholders to extend its interoperability to iOS devices.

Despite these challenges, the future of RCS as a communication channel for businesses looks bright. As the messaging channel gains more traction, we expect to see many different and unique use cases developing for different business lines and different customer segments. Soon, we can expect to see more businesses leveraging RCS to interact with their customers, resulting in a boom for personalised marketing.