Organisations with up to 250 employees are regularly sending and receiving mobile messages for their day-to-day inter office communication, and are providing timely information for colleagues and customers about products and services using the medium.
‘SMS has helped to reduce the time spent on the phone trying to chase candidates. I have been in the business for 8 years. In the beginning, I was staying late in the office, now it’s just a matter of clicks!’
Telephone interviews were carried out with business managers in companies and organisations across a variety of sectors and locations to assess attitudes to using mobile messaging within a business context. Those industries relating to the provision of business services made up 14% of the total sample. From a base of 250 active mobile users, 36% of respondents were heavy messaging users, sending in excess of 21 work related mobile messages per week.
‘We send short messages to staff and pictures of the parts we need to our supplier so he knows exactly what we want.’
Golf Course Maintenance Support
Generally, attitudes towards using mobile messaging for business were found to be extremely positive within the SME sample. 45% of respondents claimed that the technology offered considerable cost and time saving benefits for their own particular organisations.
Companies actively making the most use of person to person, business related mobile messaging tended to have between 11 and 50 employees. Wider usage also appeared to be directly related to mobile phone provision for employees – 62% of respondents all had company owned mobile phones and were active mobile messaging users.
‘We have been using text messaging for 5 years as an alert system for the technical team, it makes my job more efficient’
Technical Service Manager, Call Centre
Competitive Modes of Communication
As expected, day to day modes of communication most commonly used by the SME sample include fixed line, followed by mobile phone (voice and messaging) and e-mail from PCs and laptops. For international business, however, 81% of respondents rely entirely on their mobile phone for all business calls when abroad, and 61% use it entirely for text messaging purposes; 55% choose to use e-mail and only 33% use a fixed line for making calls.
‘We can contact our customers abroad and update them on travel information if there are changes to their itinerary - it’s cheaper than phoning, less intrusive and we know that a message will be received'
Mobile Message Usage
From the MDA’s recent study, heaviest users of mobile messaging from SME business service providers were found in Real Estate. This sector is using the technology to enhance operations and often for communicating with customers too.
‘Sending house alerts to our customers has brought great rewards. We have good responses and interested customers call us back. Before, we would spend hours contacting everybody. It saves time and it’s efficient'
Most organisations (75%) use mobile messaging for internal communication and, where this is the case, actual usage tends to be low with individuals sending less than 5 messages per week. In contrast, where organisations are using the facility as part of their overall operation or for customer service/purchasing and ordering communication, usage is much higher with more than 21 messages being sent per week.
‘If payments have been made, an automatic SMS is sent to our bailiffs in the field, likewise debtors can send messages that are converted to e-mail’
Debt Collection Service
Types of Message Sent
100% of respondents to the market research study actively send text messages and 14% send picture messages for greater accuracy and to generally enhance communication. Many organisations involved in the handling of insurance claims were found to be using the facility for visual evidence and clarification purposes.
‘It’s a fast and direct way of communicating. Picture messaging helps quickly assess any damage sustained by vehicles’
‘We make use of text for operational purposes about jobs, and we’ve used MMS for our own visual record of entertainment jobs we have completed.’
Corporate Entertainment Company
Location & Devices Used
Clearly the research highlighted that location and message purpose determined the type of mobile messaging being used. 86% of field based respondents were found to be using mobile messaging for making contact with another mobile user, whereas office based personnel, often used machine to mobile facilities for group messaging to colleagues/customers and consumers and, in some cases, their superiors too.
‘We use text for operations, contacting staff when they are in environments where their phones would be switched off, for instance, when they clean hospitals’
‘My phone is set up to send alerts to colleagues from the servers if there are errors’
The key benefits of mobile messaging for the SME sample interviewed were that it saves time, that it can be accessed globally and that it is an extremely cost effective way of communicating. For business service providers, the ability to reach a target audience in one go and avoiding wasting time hanging on a phone line or leaving messages with third parties has proved to be extremely beneficial.
‘We often receive pictures of products people want to sell via the mobile medium for our weekly newsletter and we use text to contact people with hearing disabilities.’
Director of Charity supporting employment opportunities for people with disabilities
‘Mobile messaging keeps everyone in the loop wherever they are. I can support 3 offices on the move.’
Accounts Dept, Financial Services Company
Areas of Improvement
47% of respondents suggested a number of areas for improving mobile messaging facilities in the future including:- making it easier and cheaper to send mobile messages, providing more space for message content and written confirmation of messages sent and received.
‘The ability to send larger amounts of data without huge cost when roaming would be good’
The MDA’s research study into how the SME sector is using mobile messaging clearly indicates that the facility has a raised profile and is being widely used for informal and brief business communication internally, as part of an organisation’s operation and for liaison with suppliers and customers.
Whilst e-mail remains the favourite communication tool for more formal and detailed business communication, evidence suggests that mobile e-mail take up by the SME community is growing fast. Offering the same flexibility as sending a text message, mobile e-mail can overcome the 160 character space restriction on message content and also the perception associated with text messaging being an informal form of communication.
Motivated by making potential savings and generating income, SME organisations now have the opportunity to improve their efficiency and profitability, and can adopt more creative and innovative ways of communicating. Looking ahead, organisations need to be aware of the full potential mobile messaging has to offer and to retain the technical knowledge and capability for successful implementation of the wide variety of business related mobile applications currently available.
‘It’s an instant way of communication without having to talk and you can tailor it to specific needs’
Golf Course Maintenance Support