Telecom Lead Asia: Vishwanath Alluri, founder, chairman and CEO of IMImobile, has shared mobile VAS trends for 2013.
The mobile industry has entered a highly dynamic phase, where time has come to open up new revenue streams going beyond the traditional Mobile Value Added Services (MVAS).
As per a latest Research on India report, Mobile Value Added Services (MVAS) market size in India was around at INR 15860 crore in 2011. With low call and SMS charges, telecom companies in India are increasingly getting dependent on revenues from MVAS for higher profitability.
While the industry has so far focused on generating revenue through services aimed at consumers, there is a large, immediate and clear opportunity to enable businesses of all sizes adopt the mobile medium as part of their customer engagement and employee productivity strategies.
Today, businesses need a holistic and well-coordinated strategy for m-Engagement which complements their other marketing channels. One such powerful marketing channel is the mobile medium reaching more than 900 million Indian subscribers. In the past, mobile data services platforms had largely focused on SMS messaging as the means of engagement.
However, engagement over mobile can be over multiple channels; Voice and Data channels, amongst others, are complementary to text messaging through a well-integrated m-Engagement platform. Today, these platforms are evolving to provide additional services such as interactive messaging, voice inbound and outbound, interactive voice response, USSD based communication, contests, polls, Callback and Missed-call services etc. Feedback from business users indicates that they desire more evolved services that encompass other enablers like network intelligence and customer profile of mobile subscribers.
With the birth of new technologies that can integrate social, cloud and mobile (soclomo) on a unified platform, the effectiveness of mobile-based data services for m-engagement with stakeholders like customers and employees has gone up.
Opportunity for the telecom sector:
Time has come for the mobile service providers to move beyond providing basic value added services like information, entertainment and utility services, which generated incremental revenues for them, to enterprise adoption of mobile technologies for greater revenue creation.
The ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) of a telecom operator has been continuously on the decline.
New SoCloMo platforms are enhancing enterprise adoption of mobile and could opening up new revenue stream for operators.
Telecom operators have a rich set of assets within their networks like multiple bearer channels, location, presence, a trusted billing relationship, and most importantly, rich CRM data, which are untapped from a business standpoint. Because of the complexities of the systems integration (SI) model employed in the deployment of the Service Delivery Platforms (SDP), these assets could not be exposed to the enterprise customers.
The new generation of unified cloud-based m-engagement platforms could quickly enable integration between IT systems of businesses with capabilities offered by telecom operators. It thus becomes a win-win situation where the enterprises could tap into the rich CRM data and behavioral profiles of end-consumers from the operators. Opening up network assets to enterprises will result into additional revenue streams for operators and help them counter the decline in ARPU from traditional consumer services.
For the first time such unified mobile data services platform not only results in tremendous time-to-market and cost advantages for large enterprises, but also brings m-engagement within reach for smaller businesses for the first time.
The status of messaging industry: Messaging has been a very successful platform to connect with existing and prospective customers for businesses of all sizes in the past. Telecom operators and service providers are seeking out new revenue generating opportunities in this new era, where the technology and regulations are changing the messaging space.
National Consumer Preference Registry (NCPR) regulation of September 2011 resulted in the consolidation of the messaging industry with many small messaging service providers going out of business. The strict regulations brought to a screeching halt the free flow of promotional messages on mobile phones. As a result, the number of promotional messages declined and the number of transactional messages increased considerably. The use of messaging services for transactional purposes is expected to burgeon in the near future and will be used heavily by enterprises for m-engagement with customers and employees.
Opportunity for enterprises:
More and more Enterprises, SMBs and SOHOs are using Mobility as a Service through platforms where they can find resources and configure services with a high level of customization for their needs. Such Self-Serve platforms allow users in various business functions to setup their own mobile engagement services. This eliminates dependency on external vendors, or the need for long-lead, expensive internal IT projects – “Configure it and Deploy it”. Self-serve platforms provide businesses the flexibility to modify their live services based on the usage and engagement with end customers.
A ‘do it yourself’ platform can provide the option of execution without IT intervention giving a significant boost to use of mobile for engagement across internal & external audiences. It eradicates the barriers of use prevalent with traditional systems that are targeted at IT personnel. It enables alignment of application of technology to business strategies that will benefit the organization across functions and operations.
The availability of a single platform along with minimal IT involvement proves to be cost effective for enterprises making SoCloMo an affordable yet effective engagement option. Such a platform will not only make life easier for large enterprises but also come as a great relief for SMEs who can neither afford special IT assistance nor can bear the costs of in-house technology infrastructure.
Using different vendors for different technologies and services not only creates vendor management headaches for businesses but also results in a disconnected experience for their customers — a situation where the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.
This situation calls for a unified mobile data services platform which will provide the environment to unleash the power of mobile for business productivity and growth through unified customer engagement. The new unified mobile data services platform model combines the advantages of the pay-as-you-go-pricing of the cloud based model, with no upfront payment, and no-capex commercial model, thus bringing down barriers to adoption and stimulating innovation.
With mobile phones and social media becoming inseparable parts of the lives of today’s youngsters, enterprises are forced to rapidly embrace new customer engagement platforms involving social media and mobile.
Most of the enterprises are quick to realize the benefits of SoCloMo solutions, but the market is presently cluttered with vendors offering small pieces of the puzzle. What businesses need is a unified platform that will enable them to have highly customized m-engagement solutions at a highly affordable rate.
Current solutions mostly include multiple platforms providing standalone services. Additionally, complexity of using the technology on multiple platforms makes the enterprises dependent on IT professionals for execution. With multiple platforms and touch points, the entire process becomes a costly affair. This also leads to lack of single point control and thereby raises security concerns.
Expected trends of 2013:
Social, Cloud and Mobile (SoCloMo) is the new mantra and Services that bring together the SoCloMo will have most success in 2013 and beyond.
We will see more usage of m-engagement in a SoCloMo environment for customer engagement and employee productivity by small and medium enterprises.
‘Do it yourself’ wings to help enterprises ride the SoCloMo wave for better customer engagement & employee productivity
We launched IMImobile OPENHOUSE a couple of months back. We will see it flowering and emerging as the most preferred SoCloMo tool for m-engagement in the next few years.
IMImobile OPENHOUSE is a cloud-based service that will enable its customers to create their own mobile engagement solutions and activate their own mobile engagement initiatives. Here actual users from its customer organisations can themselves devise and activate a mobile engagement initiative, to acquire customers (mobile marketing campaigns, product promotions), service customers (delivery notifications, service alerts), retain customers (loyalty offers, subscription reminders) or for internal productivity (employee communications, service alerts). Thus, it is positioned as a solution on the mobile platform to engage all your constituents—an m-engagement solution.
How the sector will move to the next level:
We will be able to see a significant exchange of customer data between telecom operator and service providers, which will be a win-win situation to both. This will result into enhanced network intelligence and customer analytics.
Promotional mobile communication will soon diminish, giving way to transactional and interactive engagement. Mobile Adoption amongst Enterprises and SMEs in India is still at a nascent stage, predominantly for promotions, transaction alerts and communication using Inbound Messaging Services. As businesses benefit more and more from existing services, they will use more evolved services to increase reach or to obtain greater lead conversion. For instance, a simple text broadcast will be seen to evolve into a Voice message broadcast, which supports better local and rural reach.
We will see social networks augment professional networks at work, providing enterprises with a larger universe to connect with their employees. More corporates will be seen encouraging ‘Bring your own device’ which provides the employees with the freedom and flexibility to use their personal devices for work.
Vishwanath Alluri, founder, chairman and CEO of IMImobile