Sanjay Aggarwal, CEO, Unicel Technologies, has shared Cloud communications trends 2014 for global enterprises.
As one of the emerging sectors in the IT and telecom space, the cloud communications market in India had an exciting 2013.
Many new start-ups emerged across segments, the regulatory situation stabilized significantly and created a much healthier environment overall, and there was a great deal of product and service innovation from both new and established players. Overall, a fantastic foundation was laid for what is likely to be a transformative 2014 as we will see the ‘coming of age’ of the market. As one of the leading players in cloud communications in India, Unicel expects four major trends to shape 2014.
Accelerated growth of new communication channels
Historically an SMS dominated market, we expect to see accelerated growth from emerging channels such as voice, email, and USSD. New segments are seeing significant traction in the market, driven by evolving customer demands, technological enhancements, and regulatory change. From a customer perspective, enterprises are increasingly seeing the value of engaging with their end-customers in more innovative ways. For example, rapid growth of internet penetration is making e-mail based communication a must-have solution for creating more engaging interactions. On the technology side, advancements in cloud-based delivery models, particularly for voice solutions, is making application integration of ‘fit-to-purpose’ communication channels easier and easier. Even the regulatory situation is helping support growth of new channels, such as USSD. RBI mandates to open USSD for mobile banking will be a critical enabler for delivering an effective cross-operator, enterprise-grade USSD solution.
The long awaited industry consolidation will finally take shape, particularly on the operator/vendor side, but likely amongst cloud communications service providers as well. With telecom M&A policies finally taking shape in a positive way, there will be a significant restructuring of the operator landscape, with only a few major players remaining. This will be a very positive development for the cloud communications landscape as it will bring more stability to the market, enable longer-term and deeper relationships between vendors and service providers, and shift the focus from price-based competition to value-based competition. On the service provider side, we also expect to see consolidation as the market leaders seek to solidify their positions through increased market share or service diversification.
Entry of global players
Due to the recent challenges in the cloud communications market in India, including regulatory uncertainty, intense market competition, and rapidly evolving customer demands, most global players in the cloud communications market have taken a ‘wait-and-see’ approach to the Indian market. However, with the many positive developments over the last year, India will become an important destination for these players. Even today, the demand for globally delivered services, both for customers based in India needing to deliver services outside India and for customers based abroad needing to deliver service in India, is immense. As local market uncertainty reduces, there will be a significant focus for global players to either set-up operations in India, or to partner with or acquire India-based players. A similar set of drivers will also lead to increased focus on this market from the more established players on the vendor/operator side, as larger operators use the market stability as an opportunity to leverage the advantages of their large customer base to capture a dominant share of the vendor market.
Emergence of next generation enterprise mobile applications
Enterprises have been experimenting with various use cases for enterprise-oriented mobile applications for the last several years, with the goal to facilitate more effective internal communications between sales teams, field agents, distributors, etc. However, the success of these experiments has been limited, as these tended to be bespoke solutions that were too costly, too inflexible, and too difficult to manage. This year will see the emergence of the next generation of enterprise mobile applications delivered through cloud-based platforms that provide much greater flexibility, functionality, and cost effectiveness for enterprises. These applications will enable enterprises to take advantage of the plummeting prices of smartphones, while expanding and simplifying the communications options across the enterprise ecosystem. Already many start-ups have emerged to target this space, and 2014 will see rapid growth in market adoption of such solutions.
Overall 2014 is shaping up to be another exciting year for the cloud communications market in India. The year will see structure changes in the market, growth in emerging segments, and significant service innovation. These changes will help enterprises reap the full benefits that cloud communications has to offer, and it will also be a great opportunity for growth amongst the service provider community.