In preparation for the new year, PerformanceIN continues its annual tradition of connecting with performance marketing experts to get their single biggest prediction for the industry in 2017. 

In his piece, Silvio Kutic, CEO at Infobip, expects to see bolder moves in the field of messaging technologies.

In 2017, omnichannel will grow considerably. Different communications channels will be brought together with new approaches to manage this technology and more simplified integrations. Businesses of all shapes and sizes will strive to take advantage of omnichannel messaging as their understanding of customer communication undergoes a fundamental change.

The integration of several different messaging platforms – including SMS, voice, email, push notifications and messaging apps – will let businesses take their communications much further. This approach will also make it possible to introduce fallback options tailored to the needs and habits of individual consumers, increasing user satisfaction by having a range of communications channels available to engage with the user depending on the time, location, and purpose.

With omnichannel messaging becoming a reality, enterprises will move past thinking about the individual channel that delivers the message and will focus on consumer engagement and how to build it. This will result in a more holistic approach to understanding consumer communications preferences and how to serve them in the best way possible.

‘Omni’ bots

Chatbots have become one of the most visible and talked about areas of messaging development in recent months. In 2017, however, the wide-ranging applications of this technology will be pushed even further and will be used for new customer support, customer engagement, and e-commerce purposes.

Over the next 12 months chatbots will also become intrinsically linked to the development of omnichannel. There’s going to be much more demand for automated and platform agnostic chatbots designed to offer a uniform experience to users instead of forcing them to use one specific channel to access this technology.

Different kinds of bots and bot logic will be developing rapidly in 2017, driven by the advances in machine learning and natural language processing. A programme (bot) that can learn from data, and orchestrate responses and processes accordingly has huge potential to improve customer communication, satisfaction, and engagement.

This is no longer in the distant future. It’s happening already and can only accelerate in 2017.

Enterprises start chatting

We’ll see bolder moves from instant messaging apps as they enter the A2P messaging space. It’s a shift that began in 2016 and will continue. Internet brands have dominated consumer messaging with the likes of WhatsApp, Line and Viber, all focused on person-to-person (P2P) communication. The next step will be to open their APIs to enterprises. But making the switch won’t be easy.

Large retailers, fashion, and automotive brands are starting to adopt multichannel and omnichannel strategies to better engage customers and drive sales. Subsequently, more of these companies are receptive to the idea of adding a ‘sexy’ messaging app to their marketing mix. The only drawback is that instant messaging apps tend to be proprietary and only accessible to closed groups, preventing large-scale engagement with customers.

Many brands like the idea of having a popular messaging app as part of the business communications suite. They feel it will add vibrancy to customer engagement. But will it work as a standalone tool? Probably not. For OTT companies to succeed in the A2P messaging space, they will need to become part of an integrated platform that supports the omnichannel experience.

It will be interesting to see what kind of services will be developed and how the Internet brands and their enterprise customers collaborate to deliver those services.