Amazon Sees the Light on Multi-Channel

Dave Lewis
Nov. 7, 2011 by Dave Lewis

Back in February Amazon Web Services caused some ripples in the messaging community when they announced the beta release of Simple Email Service (Amazon SES), which was proclaimed as a cheap bulk email-sending service for businesses and developers.

The SES offering was viewed as a “quick fix” for small businesses and tech start-ups that needed transactional alert capabilities, or needed an inexpensive elemental alternative to professional-grade email marketing services. Aside from the limited features, the obvious drawback was that SES couldn’t offer much scalability, so if your business plan included fast growth you’d likely confront performance issues in short order.

Yesterday came news that Amazon has gone multi-channel, adding SMS capabilities to its cloud messaging mix. Amazon SNS (Simple Notification Service) lets subscribers deliver messages to SMS-enabled cell phones, smart phones or any other device that supports SMS. It’s great to see Amazon finally coming around and seeing the light on multi-channel, though it very much appears that SNS is more of a bolt-on to the existing email service than a fully integrated messaging capability. The pull-down menu on Amazon Web Services’ product & services tab show email and text as separate entities.

Obviously, the cloud aspect has it charms – as a web service they can position it as “easier” to send notifications to applications or handsets without the business customer having to work with an MSP or mobile aggregator. That’s probably an appealing selling point for a small retailer who wants to have the option of sending delivery notifications or service provider sending appointment reminders.

But as this blogpost at ReadWriteWeb points out, recipient response options are limited. Moreover, there’s no cross-channel capabilities. Apparently it’s not possible to construct workflows to, for instance, send automatic text notification in cases of email delivery notification. Or respond via automated text to incoming email inquiries.

That kind of rich message-driven workflow development is where the real action is with multi-channel messaging, and what we’re increasingly seeing from leaders like Salesforce and Facebook, and in mobile banking and travel communications. The ability to make channel-appropriate messaging decisions on the fly, the ability to transform messages from one channel to another to stay connected with your customers – that kind of cross-channel messaging requires a single, integrated platform. That’s not what you’re getting with Amozaon SNS. But overall, it’s a respectable entry-level notification service, and validation for us multi-channel messaging evangelists from the world’s biggest online retailer.

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