The A2P Era: Unlocking the omnichannel communications opportunity in India


By Harsha Solanki, Managing Director, India, at Infobip

Mobile phone adoption across India has seen a huge increase over past half century. By the end of 2018, 36% of the country is expected to own smartphone, up from 22.2% in 2014, according to research from Statista.

Many businesses across the region have been quick to leverage this trend. This is evident by the huge volume of Application-to-Person (A2P) SMS that are sent every month across the region – 13 billion on average. Businesses are realising that the most efficient way to engage with consumers is via their mobile phones.

             Harsha Solanki

A2P SMS is used by businesses across all sectors – such as healthcare, transport and entertainment – a large proportion of the growth has been driven by the finance and retail sector. In retail, the technology has been embraced by major e-commerce brands such as Flipkart, eBay and Amazon, which use it to communicate schedule drop-offs with their customers.

In the finance sector, real-time SMS notifications and alerts that customers receive from their banks, contribute towards more trust being built and better quality of experience.

Yet, whilst the use of SMS for customer engagement is constantly on the rise, businesses are also beginning to realize that this technology is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to customer engagement.

The availability of data services across India – both Wi-Fi and cellular – are creating opportunities for businesses to interact with their customers using online methods. The customer engagement dynamic is changing and savvy businesses are moving ahead of competition by putting a renewed focus on the importance of omnichannel communication.

Consumers in India have individual preferences when it comes to the communications channels they prefer – be it SMS, email, voice, and OTT applications, such as WhatsApp. They may prefer different communication channels depending on what they’re doing, where they are, and what stage of a transaction they are at. In India’s mobile centric world, contextual and real-time interaction across different communications platforms has become the key to building stronger engagement with customers.

However, despite the new avenues now available for engaging with customers, the rollout of omnichannel communications by is proving difficult for some businesses, which are often unable to add anything more than SMS and email support. Those that do introduce new communications platforms are presented with the challenge of trying to stitch together solutions from different vendors, which is neither efficient nor practical, particularly if there’s the requirement to scale.

The range of diverse channels that the average business needs to support, making them all work together, pulling insightful information from all channels, is a daunting process for even the most tech-savvy business.

Fortunately, reaping the benefits of omnichannel is no longer a challenge. The so-called Communications-Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) is enabling businesses of all shapes and sizes in India to unlock the true value of omnichannel.

Using CPaaS for better engagement

The CPaaS model is a recent development in India – a single solution that seamlessly combines almost any existing, popular communications channel. It allows a specialist messaging provider to strip away the complexity associated with omnichannel, managing it on a behalf of a business, as a cloud-based service.

The features available from a specialist messaging provider includes 24/7 support, in-house and centralised product development, and support for several major programming languages to tie in with any existing network environment. CPaaS is also built with flexibility and scalability so that it can address the needs of a business, at any stage of its development.

An experienced messaging provider’s role is vital to help with the challenge of managing different communications channels and the nuances involved with them. Business struggle to manage this themselves – it requires a lot of resources to make it a reality.

However, a messaging provider can offer the omnichannel communication framework and the APIs to automatically tap into all of a business’s communication channels. This gives a company a runway to focus on other aspects of their core business, such as engaging with their customers, and driving growth and expansion, rather than worry about the IT technicalities of their communication channels.

A CPaaS provider also offers the ability to monitor, analyse and report on customer engagement, across all of the different communication channels that it introduces. Businesses in India are increasingly seeking multi-service solutions that support integrated messaging, user segmentation and advanced reporting, via a single web portal.

The portal should be designed for easy integration with any existing CRM or data management system, offering support for two-way interaction based on available customer information. This helps a business better manage its communication flow – from initial engagement, to ongoing relationships building and beyond.

Having access to these insights opens up a wide range of new avenues for a business to improve the way it markets to its customers. Once a business has identified, when, where and how its customers prefer to be engaged, it can communicate with them in an appropriate manner, which will be met by a more receptive audience.

With the mobile ecosystem in India rapidly expanding, business must constantly readdress the method by which they communicate with their customers.

A CPaaS approach can enable them to adapt their approaches and implement an engagement that best suits the needs of their business. By using a combination of new messaging technology and a fresh commercial mind-set, business in India can engage with their customers on terms that suit them, giving them the communicative experience they crave.