The numbers are in, says Sybase 365, the mobile messaging subsidiary and newest acquisition of Sybase, Inc. In 2006, the company delivered more than 25 billion (yes, that's billion with a B) domestic and international MMS and SMS messages worldwide--a number nearly twice that of what it delivered in 2005.
Mobile messaging began as a mostly consumer application, with people messaging people (or P2P, as it's being called), but its very non-business origins are, perhaps, exactly what is driving its growth, as well as the opportunities it's making available to enterprises today.
"P2P is a springboard to more usage," says Bill Dudley, senior director of messaging products at Sybase 365. Through P2P, people are increasingly comfortable sending and receiving mobile messages, and so it increases their openness to interacting with businesses in this way, explains Dudley. "You can sign up for alerts from airlines, for banking, for any kind of transactional-type [business], or any kind of staying in touch, staying connected. But it all starts with the personal messaging. And as you can tell, volumes for us are literally doubling year over year."
Mark Wilson, VP of strategic operations at Sybase 365, seconds the example of banking as an industry ripe for mobile messaging. "You see it already, where people are being sent alerts about their account," he says. "Whether money is being transferred, whether there's potential fraud associated with their account, or people need to be notified of a transaction ... There's a whole element of unwiring a bank through mobility and mobile messaging. It's a market that's prime for it. And there are a lot of benefits for the bank--it's a way to interact more frequently with your customer, as well as more cost-effectively. So instead of your customer having to go into a branch, which could cost $10 per interaction with the user, or going to an ATM that costs $1 per user, you could actually drive that interaction by messaging with the user. And it fits within banking with what we see is an overall trend toward mobility--people are doing banking outside of the branch already."
Other industries ripe for mobile messaging, says Dudley, are industries that can benefit from mobilizing what customers already do online. "Any type of situation where you need to alert your user or your customer to some situation--whether it's payments, schedules, transactions that have occurred or are going to occur."
Mobile messaging is also an easy fit for most enterprise because it complements another driving trend. "It's a paradigm of push," says Wilson. "So instead of pulling information, you could have it pushed to you. In Major League Baseball, for example, you could have scores from your team pushed out to you, and it's pushed to a device that's always with you. The whole idea of how people collect information begins to get transformed, as it gets more cost-effective and timely to push information to people."
This idea neatly ties into the idea of the "unwired enterprise," which is Sybase's overall point of focus.
"So much about the unwired enterprise is making data more liquid, being able to analyze data [and having that] result in a pro-active alert being pushed to somebody," says Wilson. "You could see that happening within an enterprise as someone is adopting an ERP system--the whole notification experience, the whole process, it just makes the enterprise that much more real time by taking the latency out of decision-making by pushing information to the device that everybody already has with them, and then in turn being able to interact with that application via messaging.
"The idea is that if you can unwire the data within an enterprise, as well as unwire the people in an enterprise, you can really begin to unwire a process," Wilson concludes. "And if you can unwire a process with technology, that's where big things happen. That's where you can fundamentally change paradigms around how business gets done."