Messaging as a Platform (MaaP) is an exciting new area that represents a far-fetched opportunity for businesses and mobile network operators to increase their engagement with customers, according to a new report by GSMA. Through the proper usage of chatbots, and artificial intelligence (AI), users can be provided direct access to various services through a unified messaging platform, without the need to download multiple apps on their smartphone. It will make the ‘always on’ feature more attainable for several businesses.

MaaP has the potential to revamp operators’ existing SMS A2P businesses; however, in order to capitalise it effectively, telcos would need to collaborate with large internet players to develop innovative value propositions. Customers spend 85% of their time on smartphones in apps but only five apps see heavy use, according to Forrester Research. The GSMA’s vision is to establish a common, global and interconnected messaging platform that removes the need for multiple messaging apps and delivers a unified, consistent and engaging user experience.

So, how can operators accelerate the adoption of MaaP as a revenue generator? AI agents and business chatbots are being touted as the present and future of customer engagement. They supplement existing human staff to fulfil customer demands. There will be an estimated 1.8 billion unique, active chatbot or virtual assistant users by 2021 and a market worth more than $600 billion in revenues by 2020, according to the consulting firm, Tractica.

GSMA Intelligence predicts the user base for major IP messaging services to exceed four billion by the end of the year. OTT providers have been trying to monetise their messaging services variously to upsell new services to the subscribers. Telcos can leverage this opportunity as well by launching advanced messaging and augmenting and migrating the A2P business to the new technologies. Given the legacy of customer base they have, operators can reap huge benefits by combining relevant service features for industry partners as well as more attractive propositions for their end-users. Unless they act fast, they will lose their only chance to win a fair share of the messaging pie.

In order to deliver a globally scalable and commercially successful business model around MaaP, operators will need to collaborate strategically with other service providers, internet players and the wider ecosystem. Operators have access to customer profiles they can bank upon for personalising advertising and service options depending on user preferences. Co-operation is the new business model for the platform generation, and operators need to realise the importance and implications of this; fenced approach doesn’t work for long term any more.

MaaP can be monetised both directly as well as indirectly. By enabling quick and easy payment, operators can have an additional direct revenue source. In addition, indirect revenue models will be the ones in which operators get a revenue share in exchange of the access they provide content providers to their advanced messaging platform.