From texts to IMs, voice to video, communications have seen a lot of changes over the years. But which channel is better when it comes to enterprise? Halfway through 2017, we’re seeing a smorgasbord of ways that customers and coworkers can get in touch.

An Ovum report recently added to Voxbone’s website has the scoop on this year’s trends for communications services. We’re seeing that consumers are communicating with businesses as they would with each other, which is to say, in a variety of ways. Whether it be through SMS, chat apps, voice or video, Ovum’s view is that companies need to support an omni-channel solution in order for their customers to use the method they prefer.

Texting in particular is holding strong for enterprise, especially with the rise of automated messaging. Ovum forecasts that by the end of this year, A2P (application-to-person) SMS will rise to 1.25 trillion events compared to 1.18 trillion in 2016. “SMS remains the cheapest, most reliable, and most accessible mobile messaging communications channel to reach customers and employees,” writes the report’s author, Pamela Clark-Dickson.

Despite the advantages of SMS, OTT messaging is becoming an ever-more popular channel. In general, Ovum notes that more than 45 trillion OTT messages will be sent by the end of 2017. Sure, consumers are using these apps like crazy, but why do they have appeal for enterprise? The opportunity to implement chat bots and integrate social media, for example, opens the door for a lot more interaction. Plus, as Ovum’s report points out, “The chat app is an ideal place for enterprise to connect with customers because it is a communications channel that can enable real-time and asynchronous interaction; the ability to share files, location, and media; and voice and video calling.”

Don’t lose that number

So, with all of these advances in communications technology, is there a need for something as old fashioned as a phone number? Absolutely. I’ve discussed before how the need for voice calls is stronger than ever in the modern contact center. But SMS can be great tool for reaching customers, with a far higher open rate than email. And, as the Ovum report notes, is also a fallback for chat apps like iMessage and Facebook Messenger when there is no data connection available.

Whether it’s to send updates or authentication codes, solve a customer problem or receive feedback, there’s a channel that can get the job done. The trick is to let the consumer reach out (or be reached) on their terms, and to have the resources to do so. With the flexibility of modern CPaaS offerings, companies can pick and choose the way they roll out and scale their services, and Ovum expects these options to play a bigger role for enterprises and telcos alike through 2017 and beyond.

Read the full Ovum report here.

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