Deutsche Telekom launched the joyn messaging service in Germany today. It is hardly the first carrier to do so; Telefonica, Vodafone, MetroPCS, and SK Telecom have already launched such services. But Deutsche Telekom’s launch gives me the chance to point to an opportunity for joyn that has not been talked about a lot so far.

Rich communication services (RCS), which is marketed as joyn, is a joint-service initiative between carriers and handset manufacturers that empowers people to combine ways to be in touch with contacts in their address book: talking, chatting, and sharing videos, photos, and files. For the most part, joyn is aimed at consumers. Joyn is usually seen as a carrier response to counter the threat to traditional revenues from OTT providers like WhatsApp. I believe, however, that the real potential for joyn is in the business arena. Joyn is hardly going to generate any direct revenues for carriers. It’s the potential of joyn as a platform for interactive social engagement that is more interesting:

  • Businesses confront a major shift in communication behavior. Businesses are dealing with the impact of changing systems of engagement and the implication of mobility and big data in the business environment. Social media services, including chat, video sharing, and file exchange, are experiencing rapid uptake. But these emerging systems of engagement depend on an underlying communications infrastructure. The successful CIO will embrace the trend of interactive social engagement and turn it into a competitive advantage for his business.
  • Its interoperability and multivendor focus set joyn apart from competing social media tools.CIOs will benefit from the emergence of joyn, as it differs from other social media communication and collaboration services. Setting up a video chat or sending instant messages to any phone is as easy as sending an SMS.
  • It benefits from large scale and global reach. Native joyn devices will start shipping in the coming weeks. Over the coming years, everyone who buys a new smartphone will get access to joyn devices due to the natural device replacement cycle. The growing installed base should make it more attractive for business as a new communication channel.
  • Joyn is a platform for third-party interoperable communication and collaboration services. Joyn opens up carrier APIs to the developer world. It allows developers to innovate using the RCS standard rather than relying on proprietary protocols or creating new standards.

We believe joyn is a tool for sales and marketing teams to intensify real-time customer engagement. For instance, in retail, marketing teams are exploring options for assisting shoppers with in-store real-time product information and special deals via the customer’s smartphone. The entertainment industry is looking at joyn to use video-ins rather than call-ins for TV shows. The healthcare industry is looking at joyn for less-costly patient/doctor interaction outside the surgery. Joyn also has the potential to boost customer support. For instance, joyn video chat could bring big benefits to solving particular customer inquiries.

As a first step, CIOs and business-line managers should acquaint themselves with the opportunities joyn offers to the specific business activities of their organization. For those interested in more details about the potential of joyn in the business context, please see my report, Rich Communication Services Can Unlock The Value Of Systems Of Engagement.