First, we as a messaging industry need mobile operator support for Universal Profile 2.0 – and quickly. In 2018, we had strong messaging provider and aggregator support for RCS, but only a smattering of operators launched support for UP 2.0. The GSMA notes that around 75 mobile operators have launched RCS, but the vast majority of these are UP 1.0 support only. Remember, this time around it is the enterprise/brand (A2P) RCS that is driving this new SMS replacement. It is supported by all the top messaging providers that manage over 80% of the world’s A2P (or B2C if you want) SMS messaging. These are the companies that have the enterprises, banking/financial, travel industries, logistics, social/entertainment, consumer brands, and more that are already using messaging.

Just over a year ago, I was an RCS (rich communications service) skeptic. A big one! Meaning: I thought that the RCS standards were too fragmented, a waste of time, and too little, too late; that they wouldn’t make an impact on enterprise/brand messaging, among other thoughts. Certainly, the RCS opportunity has been lost for person-to-person messaging, with the overtaking of SMS by various messaging chat apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Snapchat, and others. However, since Mobile World Congress 2017, I have started to believe that there may be, at last, hope for RCS – especially as a primary channel for conversational messaging for brands and enterprises.

Mobile World Congress (MWC) is the record-breaking annual get-together of over 108,000 attendees in Barcelona, Spain, interested in mobile, 5G, connected cars, devices, augmented reality, virtual reality, cloud computing, IoT, and much, much more. As I do most years, I attended (I believe this might have been my ninth). MWC is the most important event for the mobile-focused industry. This year, the theme was “Mobile: The Next Element.”   The idea of this theme was to “reflect the elemental role of mobile in the lives of billions of people around the world.”  While I was quite busy with over 15 meetings and discussions in our massive (and popular) SAP stand, I was able to walk around occasionally during the 4 days to try to get a better understanding of this year’s major themes.