(Excerpt from blog on ET Telecom.com)
The topic of ‘cloud’ has become a hot topic for enterprises as they seek to become more agile in the face of a rapidly changing market. However, one of the biggest areas of enterprise IT spend for which cloud technologies have only started to scratch the surface is in the area of communications. Given the accelerating changes in how workforces and customer bases are becoming more distributed, more mobile, and more demanding, the need for cloud technologies in communications has never been greater. Fortunately this is beginning to change, as many companies have started to focus on how communications can be delivered much more effectively over the cloud, providing greater functionality, flexibility, and value to both enterprises and customers alike. At the same time, given its close dependence on the telecom market more broadly, cloud communications companies have had to face a unique set of technical and regulatory challenges to deliver on their promise.
In many parts of the world, the cloud communications market was kick-started through the emergence of Voice over IP (VoIP) technologies Today a wide range of cloud communications companies have emerged to offer highly innovative and easy to use voice-based services delivered over the cloud, with all the requisite benefits of cloud-based delivery models. Through these services, enterprises are able to build call center applications on the fly, send OTPs/codes over voice calls, and integrate click-to-call features on websites, just to name a few common use cases. Over time, these companies have also aggressively expanded into similar services delivered over SMS, USSD, and other emerging platforms as well. All these services have the simple objective of seamlessly providing a wide range of communications options without any of the technical or cost barriers of using traditional telecom services.
In India too, the cloud communications market has been a hotbed of activity and in many ways has led the West in terms of its development, though the market has evolved quite differently. Enterprise Messaging, or the more commonly used term ‘Bulk SMS,’ has been the killer application that found almost universal acceptance across industries. Unfortunately, this market was almost too successful for its own good, as ‘use’ turned into ‘misuse.’ This was largely due to regulations that struggled to keep up with the rapidly evolving market, and the famous ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ of the Indian market for exploiting loopholes in the regulatory framework.
Fortunately, the tide has begun to change. In the last 2-3 years, the Indian regulatory scenario has seen a sea change with a clear and strict set of guidelines for ‘Do-Not-Call’, along with closing of loopholes that allowed players to circumvent the regulations. Cloud-based voice services, which have languished in India compared to other markets, has seen the emergence of several promising start-ups. Simultaneously, the regulatory sentiment is changing with regard to opening up VoIP services, which should hopefully become a huge enabler of a much richer set of use cases.
As we look ahead to the future, we believe that there will continue to be tremendous opportunities for innovation in the cloud communications market in India, and we look forward to being a key player in shaping that future.