On the surface, you’d think the Internet of Things (IoT) and the text message are a million miles apart.
Here’s the IoT, an incredibly complex network of smart connected devices, each using advanced AI-powered sensors to activate, track and report changes in their environments.
And here’s the text message, which consumers use to say LOL 🙂 to each other.
But don’t jump to conclusions. The truth is that these two technologies – located at the opposite ends of telecommunications history – make a powerful combination.
Smart IoT devices give companies in many industries the ability to know more about market conditions, local context, customer intention and user behaviour.
They can then crunch this information to trigger automatic alerts, notifications and reminders direct from their IoT applications to their customers’ (or maybe employees’) devices. With this functionality, they can build profound and personal relationships.
And the best channel for these alerts? Simple, universal SMS.
As I outline in a previous article, I see this as nothing less than a new-age marketing solution. It’s why I believe that ‘humble’ text messaging will be a crucial tool for the future of the IoT.
Before we dive more deeply into the transformational union of IoT and SMS, let’s review why enterprises embrace the Internet of Things.
When we think of the IoT’s many benefits, we usually think of:
- Operational efficiencies
- More productive employees
- Better communications
- More insight into operational processes
- More insight into the performance of digital assets
- Access to real-time data from sensors and other monitoring devices
- Increased revenue
- Reduced costs
- Improved innovation – thanks to smart device data insights
Obviously, these are important benefits for any organisation. But they are all quite ‘inward facing’. They tell the enterprise about the status of its own operations and possibly how to improve them. They are not really consumer-oriented.
This is where SMS has the chance to make a difference.
People know and trust SMS. They have become used to receiving texts that confirm transactions, describe promotions, convey information, deliver one-time passcodes and more.
In the IoT economy, companies have the ability to truly expand these real-time communications. They can gather IoT data insights and use them not just to improve their internal operations, but also to do more for their customers including:
- Improved customer experience
- Better decision-making
- Faster service delivery
- Increased adoption rates
Take the example of the grocery business. Let’s say you provide an online and offline grocery order fulfilment service, and you’ve got IoT devices in place that collect data on your customers. Thanks to advanced analytics, big data and machine learning, you now have the ability to inform your customers – via SMS – with timely and location-specific notifications about products, loyalty programs and offers.
More generally we can define the outcomes as follows:
- Customers can initiate conversations with businesses without leaving their current environment.
- Businesses can personalise customer interactions by gathering real-time IoT data insights and then using SMS to communicate them in an accessible way.
- Customers can receive just in time promotions, discounts, order and delivery updates, and other relevant logistical information.
- Customers get access to real-time information, answers to queries and the chance to leave feedback.
While SMS for IoT clearly has real value in terms of customer care, it is also proving its utility in a more technical context.
For example, waking up a remote IoT device.
A significant proportion of IoT devices are located in remote locations where energy and connectivity are scarce. Because of this, they are often battery-powered and require a ‘wake up’ to come online, start sending information and trigger an IP session. SMS is the perfect medium for this purpose. It works the other way too. The device can also send short messages over to the IoT platform to relay its condition.
This connectivity method is especially useful for tracking an item’s location and for predictive maintenance cases. It has been embraced by asset management, logistics management, utilities and the power industry.
SMS for IoT is also proving useful in IoT system security. Businesses need a way to prove that a person engaging with an IoT service is authorised to do so. Many are looking at multi-factor authentication (password + SMS passcode) as the safest method of verification.
The hype around IoT has been around for some time. It’s fair to say we are probably behind on the analysts’ predictions. Yet the technology is delivering. Devices, sensors and smart products are becoming integral parts of our daily lives.
As this process continues, we’ll see companies across nearly all industries increase their commitment to the IoT. They will see the value in real-time IoT data insights. And they will recognise the unique power of SMS to communicate the benefits of these insights to their customers in a reliable, secure and scalable way.
Are you curious about IoT? Get in touch with the GTC team to help define your IoT opportunity.
Global Telco Consult (GTC) is a trusted independent business messaging consultancy with deep domain knowledge in application-to-person (A2P) services. GTC provides tailor-made messaging strategies to enterprises, messaging service providers, operators and voice carriers. We have expertise in multiple messaging channels such as RCS, Viber, WhatsApp, Telegram and SMS for the wholesale and retail industry.
GTC supports its customers from market strategy through service launch, running the operations and supporting sales and procurement. The company started in 2016 with a mission to guide operators and telcos to embrace new and exciting opportunities and make the most out of business messaging. For more information or industry insights, browse through our blog page or follow us on LinkedIn.