Given the fast pace of today's business environment, where employees are always on the go and often work from different parts of the world, relying solely on email to inform people of important and time-sensitive updates is a big risk. Email is no longer for teams that work in real-time.

Companies need collaboration tools that support team communication in an organized manner. Tools that do not close communication gaps between various functional and project teams create inefficiencies within an organization. Employee and customer expectations lead companies to embrace tools that are flexible enough to support teams that are now more mobile and geographically-dispersed than ever.

Accordingly, companies look toward business SMS and chat-based messaging tools to help respond to communication requirements within modern businesses. Both communication mediums are real-time, support mobile workstyles and have high read rates. While these two modes of communication can be used in conjunction with each other they are distinct communications services with disparate delivery methods.

But how does Short Message Service (SMS) messaging work? Why is it so popular? How does it compare to other text messaging applications and protocols? Let’s find out.

What Is an SMS Message?

SMS text messages have been moving across cellular networks for over 25 years. The first message was "Merry Christmas" between devices on the Vodafone network. SMS is one of the oldest texting technologies and the most commonly used. Over 8.5 trillion of these messages are sent each year in the United States alone.

SMS text messages are sent "between" phone protocols and can be up to 160 characters in length. These characters need to be those from the GSM 7-bit alphabet, while longer messages are broken up into multiple messages.

SMS messaging holds great power in its simplicity. For example, SMS is useful in sending short and crisp messages that are easy to understand. The SMS group messaging system is the most commonly used marketing technique because it helps companies reach a large group of people at once.

How SMS Messaging Works

For SMS messages to travel between your device and that of the person receiving your message, several steps take place:

  • Your carrier's control center maps the route between the devices which send and receive the message. This mapped route includes towers, antennae and transmitters, which transmit signals through radio waves at a defined frequency
  • These radio waves travel to and from devices at the same time. Devices sometimes have to "work harder" to send signals to towers and other network infrastructure, especially while the device is traveling between cells when devices are inside buildings
  • Messages moving across signals are sent from cellular towers to mobile switching centers, which distribute messages between carriers or to devices on the same carrier network based on the device's phone number and unique signature. If a device is not powered-on or accessible by a carrier switching center, the message gets stored in the switching center until the device is discovered again
  • SMS text messages are sent across your cellular network like traditional phone calls, whereas Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) and other messaging formats are transmitted through Wi-Fi, your data plan or other network connectivity formats

SMS vs. Team Chat: What’s the Difference?

The terms SMS or text messaging and Instant Messaging (IM) are often used interchangeably, but there are a few aspects that make both these messaging services different.

SMS text messaging is a cellular phone service that has a limit of 160 characters per message. Instant Messaging, on the contrary, is a computer session that requires the internet to send and receive messages. Examples of instant messaging apps include Skype, WhatsApp, Slack and more.

While Team Chat requires downloading an application on your smartphone, SMS can be sent and received on almost every mobile phone, which makes SMS universal and ensures a wider reach. However, SMS costs money while chat messages are virtually free

Benefits of Business SMS

  • Discreet and unobtrusive, messages aren’t perceived as spam
  • Easy to act on, as everyone knows how to retrieve their messages and reply
  • Cheap, as business SMS messages cost only cents per message or can be included in carrier plans
  • Device-agnostic, meaning you can send an SMS message to any device or app that is able to receive them

8x8 Virtual Office and Team Chat

8x8's Virtual Office Mobile and Desktop takes instant messaging to the next level with Team Chat:

  • The Virtual Office application and network infrastructure provide a highly secure environment for your organization’s internal Instant Messaging. Your teams can easily receive and send messages from any device, view message history, and communicate with customers and partners using the same platform.
  • Messages sent to colleagues using the 8x8 mobile app are sent as instant messages, while messages sent to outside recipients using the phone system are sent as SMS messages.
  • Moreover, 8x8’s Team Chat offers interoperability with third-party Team Chat apps like Slack and Skype. This means your teams can easily share ideas and collaborate across messaging platforms from anywhere, on any device, using their preferred messaging app.
  • Team Chat also makes it easy for teams to create, join or invite someone to a meeting directly from within a conversation. Teams can also create public or private groups around a topic, share files and quickly see the chat history.

Team Chat is part of Virtual Office, a complete communications system with voice, video and chat in the cloud. It brings together best-in-class features that enable collaboration and communication from anywhere.

Collaboration is key to the success of any business. Whether you are using the Virtual Office Mobile app or the 8x8 Virtual Office desktop app, 8x8 makes collaboration quick and simple. Call 1-866-879-8647 or fill out an online form to request a no-obligation quote from an 8x8 product specialist.