OFCOM Report Proves SMEs Reliant on SMS Messaging
Last year OFCOM conducted a survey to assess how SMEs are doing with their communications. The research report, called “The SME experience of communications services” primarily focused on telecoms, contracts, and issues. It had some interesting data though, on SMS messaging and how these companies are using their mobile phones.
When asked how they use smartphones for business, 96% of SMEs replied “Sending and receiving texts”. Now it’s important to know the question was specifically about business use, not personal. Texts, or SMS messages, was the second highest rated activity, with voice calls coming in first at 97%. You can see the data in the chart below.
The third most common activity was sending and receiving emails at 82%. Clearly sending texts is a much more common activity than emails, even with a smartphone.
Another interesting fact from the chart is at the far right (with the squiggly lines). Each of those lines represents the number of employees the SME responding had. The company sizes ranged from 1-4 employees, all the way up to 50-249 employees. The data points in the red box are all clustered together showing that all companies, regardless of size, used SMS messaging.
Later in the report, the companies were asked how many had smartphones or standard (basic) mobile phones. It’s quite interesting that 21-38% were using standard mobiles. You can see the numbers in the chart below.
The first four columns indicate the size of the companies, and the last three are the locations of the companies. We don’t know if the mobiles are personal or provided by the employer. The data in the table above shows that the larger the company, the more standard mobiles were in use. Given the cost difference between the two types of phones, I’m tempted to say that the larger companies were providing standard mobiles for employees since the ratio was so high. But I won’t give into the temptation, as there isn’t enough information in the report to say that conclusively.
The real takeaway is that a significant portion are still using standard phones. That generally means no apps and limited or no Internet access. But they can still all receive SMS messages, which may be why SME’s rely so heavily on them for business communication.
Embracing SMS Messaging
Since the report didn’t focus on SMS messaging, it is hard to say how the companies are using it. We only know they are using it a LOT. I can’t help but imagine workers texting away on their phones because it is the most practical way to connect with people quickly. But it also makes me wonder whether or not the companies have embraced it as a standard practice, or if individuals are using it out of necessity.
Here are the ways companies can incorporate it into their operations:
Employee communications – SMS can be used for mass communications for things like policy updates (time sensitive ones especially) or emergency notifications such as power outages, closures, or other important information. It could also be used for one-to-one messages. This could be reminders for required training, deadlines, or meetings.
Logistics – Coordination between employees can be challenging in certain industries. Any SME that has a distributed workforce could leverage a company SMS plan to provide regular updates on locations, status, travel times, or changes. Even if everyone is co-located, SMS can enhance the communication between department or co-workers.
Payroll – SMS can be used to notify employees when their checks have been deposited or if there were changes to their deposits. Some companies have also used SMS for time card reporting, or for reminders to employees to enter hours worked.
IT status – Most companies these days rely on some sort of IT infrastructure. SMS messages can be used to alert employees of outages, or the IT department of issues that need attention. The quick nature of SMS can mean issues will be resolved faster, with less downtime.
Looking at the OFCOM data, it just makes sense for SMEs to take a serious look at how to incorporate more SMS messaging into their workflow. They’re already using it, but perhaps not to its full potential.
Visit our SMS guides page to see if we have a report on using SMS in your industry. If not, we’d be happy to talk to you about using it for your company specifically. You can reach our account experts via our live chat, email or phone.
Can SMS marketing increase sales numbers? In the next entry of our Results Series you’ll see the kinds of results that real companies achieved. We’ve rounded up sales numbers and timelines to show you how well, and how fast, SMS marketing can improve your sales.
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