Communications have really transformed the world. For businesses, communications became a major driver of growth, as one of the emerging sectors in the IT and Telecom space, the cloud communications market in India so far has had an exciting 2014. Sanjay Aggarwal, CEO – Unicel Technologies in an exclusive interaction with Faiz Askari of SMEStreet highlighted some major trends of this market and relevence of cloud communications for Indian SMEs.
The edited excerpts:
Please share the current industry status of cloud communications business in India.
The cloud communications business in India is in its early days. Many new start-ups have emerged across segments, the regulatory situation has stabilized significantly and has created a much healthier environment overall, and there’s a great deal of product and service innovation from both new and established players.
What are the key trends you have witnessed in the area of cloud communications business?
Overall, a fantastic foundation has been laid for what has been a transformative 2014, as we see the ‘coming of age’ of the market. As one of the leading players in cloud communications in India, UNICEL expects four major trends:
a) Accelerated growth of new communication channels
b) Industry consolidation
c) Entry of global players
d) Emergence of next generation enterprise mobile applications
How can cloud communications industry help SME sector in our country?
Cloud Communications is emerging as an easier and economical way for SMEs to integrate
communications services into their businesses. The growth of mobile telephony and internet
communications in India have given mediums such as SMS, Voice, E-Mail and USSD reach like never before. The rapid adoption of this technology is driven by its simplicity for solving business needs and its low investment requirements.
UNICEL Technologies is able to seamlessly provide content transformation services which could serve multiple needs of enterprises:
a) Internal and external organizational solutions such as group messaging solutions for faster and effective communication within groups and teams
b) Employee engagement programs such as quizzes, polls, feedback, ideas, grievance management, birthday/anniversary messages and more
c) Email or phone monitoring alerts at for escalations, system downtimes, performance degradation
d) BCP alerting systems in case of catastrophic events or system failures
e) Virtualized contact centers
f) Event based updates to external stake holders such as customers, vendors and partners
g) Two factor authentication on Voice/SMS and Email
Please share some glimpse about UNICEL Technologies and what are your plans for expansion?
UNICEL is the leading provider of Integrated Cloud Communication Solutions across SMS, Voice, E-Mail and USSD in India that help organizations create clear, quantifiable value for its customers. The company uses a versatile cloud communications platform to offer innovative and seamless integration into Enterprise applications. Our core strength is in our ability to identify and plug operational gaps in an organization and allow it to achieve higher levels of performance. UNICEL is revolutionizing the way enterprises today connect and interact with different players in the value chain. We have pioneered carrier-level integration of mobility solutions, thereby offering enterprises more visibility into the status of communication sent out and higher levels of control.
UNICEL aims to achieve growth across levels, with a turnover estimation of Rs 150 crores by 2015. The company will be expanding its present capacity to 100,000 transactions per second. UNICEL’s middleware that is built on the same technology platform that NASA uses has enabled the company to increase its throughput capacity and bandwidth to handle large workloads effortlessly and seamlessly integrate across all communication platforms.
What are the unique differentiators of UNICEL Technologies vis-à-vis other such players?
UNICEL`s proprietary telecom infrastructure that’s deployed with multiple telecom operators in the country, to ensure the highest service levels and maximum scalability gives the company a definite edge over its competitors. Additionally, our market leading user-experience design ensures maximum user satisfaction.
Some other salient differentiators are:
a) Pioneers of Virtual Number in India
b) In-house enterprise-grade SMSC, tailor-made for Indian telecom landscape
c) ‘Off-the-shelf’ SaaS-based applications
What are the cost effective cloud communications solutions that UNICEL Technologies provides for SME sector?
UNICEL Technologies gives enterprises access to mobile communications with minimal investment or technical complexity by bringing mobile communication to a cloud based platform. Various aforementioned solutions are provided on Voice, SMS, E-Mail and USSD. These channels are conventionally very cost effective when compared with other traditional mediums of communication.
Does the Cloud Communication industry face any regulatory issues? Any other challenges for the industry?
Initially, the poor definition of ‘Do-Not-Call’ restrictions and lack of definition of inter-operator connection charges led to abuse of the system. Though ‘Do-Not-Call’ regulations have been significantly strengthened in the past 3 years, they have actually become punitive in nature. Similarly, while a consistent interconnection regime has now been implemented for SMS, USSD services still suffer from no such clarity. This has effectively eliminated the possibility of a cross-operator enterprise-grade USSD offering in the market today, despite significant efforts by RBI to support USSD-based banking solutions.
Indian regulators have also remained stubbornly reluctant to allow VoIP services, based on a combination of vested interests from incumbent telecom operators and claims of security issues for IP based solutions. Though many Indian providers have still deployed cloud based voice solutions on traditional PSTN infrastructure, the costs and flexibility has suffered compared to global offerings.
A third area that has negatively impacted the industry as a whole in recent years is highly restrictive M&A policies. As growth slowed, the market was left with a glut of operators, each desperate to continue their historic growth rates. They resorted to cut-throat price competition, which was eventually compensated through such activities as illegitimate billing to consumers of VAS services.
Ultimately the consumers suffered. Similarly, operators suffered as they were burdened with huge debt loads and unable to make an exit. Even the cloud communications market bore the brunt as managing service delivery across so many operators became a significant operational overhead, and even as its own service quality was largely restricted by the service quality offered by operators.