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Emerging business opportunities in MVAS space: Vishwanath Alluri, founder and chairman and chief executive - IMImobile

March 13, 2013
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Initially, with the advent and rapid adoption of mobile phones, mobile value added services (MVAS) included MMS, SMS and services such as call waiting, call forwarding, ringtones and ring back tones. Then, with the proliferation of smartphones, MVAS expanded to provide applications such as gaming, audio and video streaming, financial transactions and other infotainment services and content downloads. The industry has been evolving due to technological progress. In addition, the numbers of MSPs and their cost-structures, user awareness and confidence level also have influenced the industry.

With declining average revenue per user (ARPUs) and the saturation in the telecom industry, it has now become essential for players to come up with innovative MVAS revenue opportunities. The major driver of the industry in the near future is the convergence of three disruptive technologies –cloud, social, and mobile and the need for enterprises to unleash the power of the mobile medium for customer engagement, employee productivity and enterprise mobility. The time is now ripe to move beyond MVAS and focus on enterprise adoption of mobile technologies for greater business productivity. A robust and proven mobile data services platform that can act as a bridge between operators and enterprises is needed.


Systematic, integrated mobile data services are evolving today to provide additional services such as interactive messaging, voice inbound and outbound, interactive voice response, USSD based communication, contests, polls, subscriptions, call back and missed call services etc.

Feedback from business users indicates that they desire more evolved services that encompass other channels like network intelligence and customer profile of mobile subscribers.

Key Challenges

The key areas of concern are:

Slow roll out of 3G, 4G

Even after the 3G rollout wherein operators paid astronomical figures to gain licenses, a number of problems ranging from increased call drops, expensive plans, costly handsets and slow internet speeds hampered adoption and customer experience.

Lack of adequate content, especially in vernacular languages, had limited large sections of the target audience from experimenting with high-end data offerings.

Further, LTE technology is relatively new and hence devices are not cheap. The other problem is that the 2,300-MHz band, on which the services will be offered, is not considered to be very efficient when it comes to coverage.

Adoption of mobile technologies by businesses

As per a report from Forrester in 2012, businesses still face challenges in adopting mobile technology. The mobile platform environment is fragmented with a number of iOS, BlackBerry, Android, Symbian and Windows phones. This has led to higher development and maintenance costs. Mobile technology is advancing quickly and becoming increasingly complex. Many companies do not have enough in-house resources or skills to fully embrace mobile technology in the workplace.

Enterprises are yet to tap the potential of mobile for business benefits due to a number of security issues. With business and personal data coexisting on the same device, finding a balance between strict security control and privacy of personal data, particularly when the device is no longer a corporate-issued asset, can be a challenge. Many mobile devices are always on and connected. As a result, they are vulnerable to malicious attacks through different communication channels. In case a mobile device is lost, corporate data is at risk both on the mobile device and within the corporate network.

Focus Areas for IMImobile

Currently, our main focus is on supporting and propagating the use of our newly launched IMImobile OPENHOUSE, a secure, cloud-based mobile engagement (m-Engagement) platform. IMImobile OPENHOUSE acts as a bridge between telecom networks on one side and businesses, developers, and service providers on the other. This pioneering m-Engagement platform allows businesses to quickly set up and launch multi-channel customer engagement and employee productivity services, with its ready-to-use engines. Hence, marketers, enterprises and developers can now easily create and launch services, applications and campaigns. Developers can make use of standards-compliant APIs to incorporate mobility into their applications and services. IMImobile OPENHOUSE enables telecom operators to open up their networks for innovation and monetize their network assets, thus increasing their ARPUs.

We estimate customer-engagement and employee productivity to be the primary drivers for this m-Engagement platform. IMImobile OPENHOUSE has the first mover advantage to address and garner a substantial portion of this Rs. 8,000 crore market.

The challenge before us is to drive the adoption amongst the business long tail, i.e. small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and small office home office (SOHOs) as well as educating the market.

To overcome this challenge we have worked out an innovative partner channel – Catalyst Program. The implementation of this program will not only help take the platform to the customers, but will also generate employment and business opportunities for talented individuals and small companies. The channel partners can now promote the platform, drive awareness and even configure the services for the end customers. In return, they get a share of the revenues. The training, certification and sales tools such as collateral, demos etc are all provided by IMImobile.

Future trends in the MVAS space

While MVAS provide users with information, entertainment and utility services and help generate substantial revenues for operators, it is time to move beyond MVAS and focus on the adoption of mobile technology at the enterprise level for overall higher business productivity. The technology trinity of Social, Cloud and Mobile (SoCloMo) is slowly changing the way businesses operate. An increasing number of enterprises, SMEs and SOHOs are in need of a do-it-yourself platform which brings together SoCloMo so as to reduce their dependency on multiple vendors or the financially-demanding internal IT setups.

The VAS industry is also undergoing a significant change, with its focus shifting from consumer VAS to enterprise VAS, which has so far been a largely unexplored territory.



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