Google and American Airlines

A pointer to the future
A few years ago I wrote a white paper predicting that communications services like telephony, email and messaging would evolve to service the needs of enterprises wishing to interact with their customers. A small harbinger of that future just arrived in my inbox today.

The check-in email notification for my flight tomorrow is prefaced by Google Mail with the flight status and the business action (highlighted in red).There is also a mini icon in the main inbox listing, visually calling out that there is an action required. Google has similar icons for things like calendar meeting requests.You don’t have to be very imaginative to see where this is going. Google is able to raise the speed and completion rate of a business process. Furthermore, they are able to provide security, personalisation or other value-added services to the enterprise or merchant at the same time. This has value. How long until they offer a “buy now” or “book now” button on inbound marketing messages?This contrasts with the offer to upgrade that British Airways sent me, which was buried deep inside an HTML email:

There are two take-aways from this:

  • There are lots of unrealised opportunities for middlemen to take friction out of business-to-customer interactions. Advertising is only a slice of the “marketing interaction” capabilities that are needed. Marketing is also only a slice of the overall customer interaction lifecycle, which also includes authentication, payment and customer service.
  • Whoever controls the mass B2C interaction channels is well-placed to monetise these needs. With RCS, telcos are missing the opportunity to create a powerful fit-for-purpose B2C channel. The needs of enterprises to connect, interact and transact with their customers have barely been considered.

Businesses desire efficient and effective customer contact. The evolution of communications services to better service these needs is inevitable. How that happens remains to be seen. But that future is here already in small patches, if you care to look for it.

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