By Zeba Haider, Special to Arab News
Publication Date: 
Tue, 2002-07-02 03:00

DAMMAM, 2 July — According to recent research the impact of SMS messaging on world marketing is expected to boost the income for companies using this new mobile communication technology. Although in Saudi Arabia this communication technology has not been as commercialized as in Europe or America, it has still caught the imagination of the business sector and has started to make its presence felt.

“There is no doubt that short message service (SMS) will energize the market and shape up customer care practice,” said Fahad Al-Azwari, software consultant at Jeddah’s Nafithah Information Technology. “We can deliver complete SMS solutions to the regional market using the GSM network.”

Last week, the misuse of SMS and its addiction among users was highlighted in this column, but these negative aspects should not be an impeding factor for the growth of such novel technology which will give a big impetus to the trade and industry in this country. Certainly SMS is very similar to the Internet in terms of misuse and addiction. It is up to the users to get the best or the worst out of it.

Said Al-Azwari: “The misuse of SMS among teenagers is no different from staying on the Internet for hours on chatting. However, the technology gives us the choice of how we make use of it.”

Many companies are actually using this service to announce discount messages and send patients’ appointment reminders. At some companies, customers can actually retrieve dynamic information from the corporate database using SMS commands. For example, one company has used Nafithah’s SMS commands to deliver stock inquiries and prices automatically round the clock. Other companies are enabling customers to retrieve online information or even place orders 24 hours a day through their mobiles. Some users can also forward important e-mails to their cell-phones through the use of Nafithah’s SMS.To.Email product.

SMS is expected to be a major player in delivering information among investors and consumers. It is thought that SMS will play a major role in activating the regional market. Like in the West, it is about time that businesses and trade develop a direct rapport with their customers. There should be no middleman in between. The product and service will directly reach the screen of the cellular phones.

Certainly this technology is a boon to trade as well as individuals for personal use. With the new market environment, SMS is certainly going to change the whole complexion of the market. It will change the outlook of consumers and enhance competition. Awareness about products and services is bound to increase manifold. In such a scenario, it is imperative now to have a body to monitor the entire functioning of SMS. It will curtail the misuse of SMS by individuals as well as check bogus claims made by advertisers.

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