WhatsApp, WeChat & The Messaging Apps Conundrum for Enterprises

How many of you have booked a movie or travel tickets recently and found that you were auto-subscribed to receive the ticket information on WhatsApp, which here-to used to land in your SMS inbox? I have.

How many of you are using a third party SMS organiser on your phone to separate the promotional and transactional SMSes rom personal ones and thus have hundreds on unread messages in your inbox? I do.

It is clear and obvious that, App messaging has become the default, and not the SMS anymore. I would even go step further say, App messaging has also trumped Social Media in many ways, and thus is a truly web 3.0. Numbers tell you that as well

But I would urge you to hold on to the next thought, that WhatsApp or WeChat or Link or Telegram of whichever App that you are using is going to this marathon(not sprint) in long term. That depends purely upon, how different a graph these Apps really draw for themselves from the evolution graph of SMS. I have my views on some early trends seen, which are not very encouraging to me personally.

Look at WhatsApp Business has allowed and what it has not.

  • The messages from businesses that I get are still in static, text-only, read-only format. It can be lot more, confirmation, feedback, conflict management and even the very action of booking.
  • It still doesn’t allow customers to respond back, either as NL text response on via click of buttons.
  • There isn’t a way to get a job done. If I want to reschedule my tickets or book my popcorn meal or reserve my valet parking, none of that is available yet.
  • On business model front, if WhatsApp is in a consumer messaging business, whats the point in launching a closed platform and also onboarding competing services onto the platfor. Either open it up or be an exclusive service for a category.

Let me now draw a few parallel world examples of WeChat and Telegram. Wechat although being a China specific example, is an epitome of open platforms for messaging Apps. It doesn’t restrict competing services to use it, but making the final meal of it to their consumers is Enterprise’s responsibility and not WeChat’s. Their core competency is in making platform so robust and transparent that, Enterprise design and device their own actions and workflows behind to deliver through WeChat ultimately to the consumers.

Same equally lies true with Telegram, who bank upon a different USP of your messages secure, opt-in only and great tech features of tagging, searchability and archiving. They truly put their users first and enterprises, but if enterprises want to serve on Telegram platform, they need to put users first as well. That apart, yes everything is an open API, a hotel aggregator can build his own service on it or even use a third party developer to do it for them.

Among them all, there is no clear winner yet, and may be there won’t be for months or couple years to come as well, they’ll all co-exist. But for someone to rule the roost for decades to come, the incumbent or the challenger will have to find their USP, put users first, gain ‘huge’ adoption and make it a completely open and transparent platform for services to come onboard

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