|Issue:||Europe I 2009|
|Topic:||Advanced messaging hubs|
|Title:||President and CEO|
Tony Holcombe is the President and CEO of Syniverse Technologies and a member of the company’s Board of Directors. Before joining Syniverse, Mr Holcombe served as President of Emdeon Corp and as President of Emdeon Business Services. Mr Holcombe has more than 20 years of executive-level experience in the transaction processing and technology services industry. He was CEO of Valutec Card Solutions and held various executive positions at Ceridian Corporation, including executive vice president of Ceridian Corporation, president of Ceridian Employer Employee Services and president of Comdata. Mr Holcombe currently serves on the board of directors and the executive committee for CTIA-The Wireless Association as well as the boards of TALX Corporation and The Wireless Foundation. Tony Holcombe holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgia State University.
Mobile instant messaging (MIM) will almost double – to 4.8 trillion messages – by 2012. Today, users of one service cannot always connect to users of another and applications such as mobile banking and mobile commerce are not yet wholly reliable. Lost messages of this sort can have serious repercussions when money transfers are not completed on time. New messaging hubs will give operators the ability to offer presence, together with seamless interworking between IM and other messaging types.
Industry forecasts have mobile messaging traffic, including SMS, MMS and mobile instant messaging (MIM), expanding at nearly 20 per cent a year by 2012. The expectation is that the 2.5 trillion messages sent globally in 2008 will increase to an incredible 4.8 trillion messages by 2012. With mobile devices in the hands of almost 3.7 billion subscribers around the world, mobile messaging clearly has the potential to be the de-facto form of instant, personalized communications that will help people stay in touch with family, friends and business associates – no matter where they may travel. Irresistible MIM Although SMS revenues generated more than €16 billion in Western Europe in 2007, European Commission roaming price caps on the cost of sending and receiving SMS messages suggest, according to analysts, that revenues may decline to approximately €14.5 billion in 2011. On the other hand, MMS and other data applications, which generated over €7 billion in 2007, should increase by 240 per cent to €24 billion in 2011. This increase is due to a number of factors, including the better user experience enabled by increased network speeds, improved handset cameras and MMS that is more intuitive to use than just a few years ago. Forecasts for MIM are even more impressive. One research group recently reported that it expects global MIM users to grow exponentially from 111 million users in 2008 to 867 million users by the end of 2013. This increase translates to a potential rise in global messaging revenues that could easily top €9 billion in just a few short years. This anticipated revenue increase is especially good news for operators who are prepared to offer the sort of comprehensive messaging experience desired by their subscriber. Users want an experience that lets them interact with others on different networks, dialogue with groups, send rich multimedia content and combine messaging with social networking – all in a radically simple, easy-to-use single messaging interface. While much of today’s global mobile network supports data connectivity for web browsing and email, the applications, an underlying infrastructure and business model required to reliably handle MIM and presence is nearly nonexistent. Clearly, the existing ‘enhanced’ messaging services do not yet meet the usability and geographic thresholds of today’s subscribers. Only when the conditions for the use of new messaging services resemble those that first brought SMS to global popularity will new services, including MIM, take off. Ubiquitous mobile messaging As they seek to meet the burgeoning demand for more robust message solutions for their subscribers, operators face several challenges, especially in the instant messaging realm. A number of interworking issues plague today’s limited functionality platforms. They do not allow for easy and transparent interworking among messaging formats, defeating the notion of always-on communications and hindering the growth of mobile messaging. First, today’s mobile messaging services are ‘siloed’, offering either SMS, MMS, MIM or email, but not all four. Moreover, messaging services in today’s fixed environments, such as MSN, Yahoo!, AIM and Google, also are highly fragmented in their support of external gateways between mobile and Internet messaging communities, as well as in their ability to combine messaging with social networking. It is not yet possible for a MIM user to communicate with another mobile user who is not signed in to an IM application or send a mobile IM between Yahoo! and, say MSN. Finally, most of today’s MIM platforms do not provide interworking among different protocols, such as SIP/IMS, IMPS and XMPP. Delivery, consistency and performance issues also plague current mobile messaging platforms. For example, operators and subscribers are aware of the high percentage of international and interoperator text messages that cannot be delivered. This is simply unacceptable for operators who strive to provide a positive customer experience to attract and retain lucrative advanced messaging users. The expectation that mobile messages will be delivered in a timely matter becomes even more crucial with applications such as mobile banking and mobile commerce that rely on mobile messaging platforms. One lost message of this sort can have repercussions ranging from simple inconvenience to the more serious ramifications of a money transfer not completed on time. Operators also face other challenges in the global messaging arena, including interworking with global enhanced messaging initiatives; ensuring consistency among operators; and enabling an inter-operator business framework that simplifies the complexities of agreement management, financial settlement and reporting and analytics. Messaging platform evolution To drive the uptake of integrated messaging services and MIM, operators need a solution that, among other things, resolves protocol differences, simplifies the many-to-many relationships required for ubiquitous access, provides transparent interworking among messaging formats and gives their customers an experience that will make mobile messaging an indispensible application. This new messaging architecture must also radically change how all messaging is delivered for real-time communication between users, especially in how it impacts critical applications such as mobile banking, mobile commerce and other applications where receipt of message delivery and near real-time delivery are important. What is the best way to accomplish these goals? The only way is via an advanced messaging hub environment. A messaging hub allows operators to take advantage of a technical and business process framework that facilitates the management of all of this, and simplifies complex interoperability between operators. The hub, which acts as the interconnection point between all networks, is a means for operators to meet the challenges of deploying integrated messaging services quickly and cost effectively, guaranteeing interworking between all messaging types and ensuring reliable delivery of messages. This new model also incorporates exchange of presence messages and protocol translation into the mobile environment so that operators can deliver messages to subscribers based on their presence or status, and convert messages when necessary to a format the recipient can receive. For instance, if a mobile subscriber does not have MIM capability, an IM message from a friend can be translated transparently to an SMS to ensure it is received. This ability to deliver any type of message to any subscriber in the world, while the network determines the best delivery format based on each subscriber’s presence, creates an entirely new form of highly personalized, real-time communications. Presence also has significant implications for mobile advertisers and content provider; it gives them the information needed to target messages based on a receiver’s location; this, together with a messaging hub, guarantees the message will be correctly routed and received, no matter what service the subscriber uses. A mobile user, for example, could give a favorite mall store permission to subscribe to his or her presence information. Then, when that shopper’s location indicates he or she is in the mall, the store sends an IM with the latest sale information. Clearly, this type of messaging hub will provide highly reliable IM delivery for mobile users around the world. The new architecture has the potential to radically change how all real-time messaging is delivered. Critical content-rich applications, such as mobile banking and mobile commerce will need to be delivered in real time, with timestamps, audit trails and other information vital to such transactions. The advanced messaging hubs being developed for commercial introduction later this year, that will work with all message platforms, all protocols and presence, will forever change the face of mobile communications. By taking many of the benefits and lessons learned from other hub environments and matching them to the needs for SMS, MMS, MIM and presence, innovative, advanced, messaging hubs will give operators the ability to offer a fully integrated solution that enables seamless interworking between IM and other messaging types. Mobile subscribers will be able to communicate with all of their family members, friends and work colleagues, and operators will be able to take advantage of the rapidly expanding revenue opportunities expected by the inclusion of mobile IM in a suite of messaging options. Without a doubt, the future for messaging is bright for both subscribers and operators.