Recently, a blog post in the New York Times advanced the notion that text messaging is on a “steep decline.” Based on a purported decline in year-over-year SMS traffic for Christmas Day 2011, the Times extrapolated to find a declining trend in the popularity of text messaging worldwide, noting that alternative services, like Facebook and Twitter, or free messaging features like Blackberry Messenger and Apple’s iMessage, have attributed to the decline of text messages among cell phone users. Now, to be sure, like the telegraph or the telex before it, SMS will someday peak and then fade away. But at Blackboard Connect, we think reports of the death of texting are greatly exaggerated. Here’s why. When we cherry-pick the number of text messages sent on a single day, we have only the narrowest of data points. If you step back and examines the broader trend, the evidence is clear: SMS traffic still enjoys double-digit growth every year. According to Nielsen, mobile users in the US continue to drive significant growth in SMS usage. From 2009 to 2011, the number of SMS sent or received by women increased by 35 percent, and among men it increased 44 percent. Even in more “mature” markets like the UK, SMS grew 24 percent in 2010, the most recent year on record, according to telecoms regulator Ofcom. British mobile users sent 129 billion SMS that year – 5 messages a day for every man, woman and child in the country. That’s the experience we’ve found at Blackboard Connect too. Our users continue to double their use of SMS every year. In 2011, our users increased the amount of text messages sent through our multi-modal service by roughly 124 percent compared to 2010.
At Blackboard Connect, we’re proud to announce that we’ve reached a new milestone. While our competitors sometimes boast of sending millions of messages annually, we’ve set a new standard: in 2011, our clients – across all sectors in education, government and the private sector – used our mass notification service to send more than 1 billion messages. Schools, universities, government agencies and businesses across the globe used Connect tools to warn of emergency situations, enhance teaching and learning, boost student engagement and retention, and increase employee awareness and efficiency. With our multilingual, multimodal platform, Blackboard Connect allows users to send messages faster and ensure relevancy to specific audiences. New features and services help users reach recipients via modes they are most likely to respond to including voice, text, social networks and more. In fact, Blackboard Connect now serves over 28 million recipients at more than 6,500 client institutions. Over the past three years, we’ve delivered a minimum of 99.99 percent service uptime, so it’s no wonder that our clients have reported overall satisfaction rates of 95 percent or better each year. Recently, the analyst firm Gartner issued its “Magic Quadrant” report for the emergency and mass notification service market. Gartner placed Blackboard Connect in the upper-left “Challenger” quadrant, and we’re pleased to have been rated highly for our ‘Ability to Execute’. Most importantly, we’re proud that Gartner recognized our exceptional speed of delivery, noting that our messages “came through faster than many other vendors.” At the same time, Gartner’s review process began over a year ago, and is primarily based on the previous version of our mass notification service. Since then, we’ve released Blackboard Connect 5, which raises the bar for our industry even higher, with unmatched ease of use and powerful tools for matching the right audience with the right message. And with Connect 5 already receiving accolades, we’re confident that technology analysts and industry thought leaders alike will have plenty more positive comments to share in 2012.
Today, I’m excited to announce Blackboard Connect 5, the most extensive update to the Connect platform yet. Over the years, we’ve helped thousands of schools, universities and local governments across the country send billions of messages, and our team has been hard at work over the past year building on that experience, with a set of features that can help transform your communications strategy, improving your outreach in both emergency alerts and everyday outreach situations. Connect 5 is all about helping you create and send messages faster, and sending notifications that are more targeted and relevant to the people that matter to you.