In an interaction with Voice&Data, Lalit Upadhyay, founder Polash Ventures, talks about the future of Internet Telephony in India, challenges, and impact of 5G. Excerpts:
Voice&Data: Tell us about IVRBOX. What are its key features and benefits?
Lalit Upadhyay: An IVR speaks to users in a human voice requesting them to press a button if they are looking for a certain service or to press another button if they looking for a different service. Often an IVR will present callers with up to 10 different possible services they can choose from when they call a company. Nearly every Indian today is familiar with what an IVR is. Whenever we speak to customer support, which many Indians do at least once a month; we are directed to an IVR that asks us what kind of service we expect. The IVR then guides us through a process during which we are required to press a number on our phone to let the IVR know what kind of service we are looking for. Often the IVR can solve our query during the call without us having to speak to another person. Common queries include learning whether a payment has been successfully transacted or learning the balance on an account.
Our IVRBOX is perhaps the most elegant of all IVR systems available today. It is efficient and can accommodate a larger call volume than most IVR systems, this means that customers are attended quickly. Also, IVRBOX allows calls to be recorded which means that each conversation can be reheard to better understand the requirements of customers. Furthermore, IVRBOX allows companies to track call flows and to get back to customers when a call has been missed. Finally, our IVRBOX allows a company to monitor and analyse the daily traffic that flows to their customer support centre and to plan their resources accordingly. We also have additional features as a part of our IVRBOX which allow users to create sophisticated call flow configurations. Also our IVRBOX allows our customers to create virtual numbers and to receive calls from anywhere at any time. IVRBOX also integrates seamlessly into an existing CRM system and also has a CRM system of its own.
Voice&Data: Internet Telephony hasn’t been a great success in India. What do you think are the real reasons/challenges?
Lalit Upadhyay: One reason why internet telephony has not been a huge success is a degree of unfamiliarity with the technology among Indians. Many people in India may not be as comfortable with calling over the internet as they are by using the services of a telco. This is one reason; another, of course, is that many Indians are not present on platforms that allow such calls to be made; the still relatively high price for data is another reason why internet telephony hasn’t picked up in India. Poor internet in many parts of India is also an important reason why internet telephony hasn’t gained traction in India.
Finally perhaps the most important reason why internet telephony hasn’t taken off in India is that it is easy and quite affordable to call using the services of a telecom company and the call quality during such calls is quite exceptional as well. Hence there seems to be little reason to want to make calls over the internet.
Voice&Data: What are future opportunities for Internet Telephony?
Lalit Upadhyay: The Department of Telecom has recently amended regulations and allowed telecom operators to offer internet telephony services to end users. How long this will take to catch on remains to be seen. An important reason why internet telephony hasn’t been successful yet in India is that apps created by Indian telecom companies do not support such a calling feature. Once the apps created by telecom companies have a dialler using which calls can be made over the internet, internet telephony may catch on. However, it’s important to remember that millions in India don’t have a Smartphone which is essential to making calls over the internet. So demand for internet telephony may grow in India but its permeation to the entire populous will take time if it happens at all.
It is possible that in the future internet telephony will permeate across Indian society and hundreds of millions of calls will be made every day. If this happens then certainly internet telephony can present tremendous opportunities for businesses in India.
Voice&Data: There is so much noise around 5G these days. What industries/sectors do you think will be early adopters of 5G in India?
Lalit Upadhyay: That 5G will be present in India is a certainty. It is a crucial technology and one that will be central to the progress of most cutting-edge technologies such as AI, automation, Big Data, IoT, Blockchain. 5G will be used in the IT sector which will be an early adopter of the technology, it may also be used in manufacturing as well, especially in facilities where a great deal of manufacturing is automated. Obviously, the number of such facilities in India is small but more such facilities will be created, especially if the promise of automation to manufacture more goods at lower costs is fulfilled. I believe that healthcare will also adopt 5G technology and perhaps some leading hospitals may even employ the services of advanced AI to make a medical diagnosis. While the change from 3G to 4G was slightly less imperceptible, the introduction of 5G will bring colossal changes across many sectors in India.
Voice&Data: What impact will 5G have on Polash Ventures?
Lalit Upadhyay: We welcome 5G as it will allow Polash Ventures to serve its customers better than ever before. 5G will allow us to handle much higher call volumes than we could before and it will streamline how customers interact with companies. We expect 5G to increase the intimacy between companies and clients by allowing companies to learn more about their customers and hence to serve their customers better. Such greater intimacy will be made possible through the use of Big Data which will lead to unparalleled customer support. We expect to play a key role in facilitating a more intimate relationship between companies and consumers when 5G is rolled out in India.
Voice&Data: What new technological offerings you are bringing in to the forefront for your clients/customers?
Lalit Upadhyay: A few of the newest technologies we will bring will allow us to better mine the data we collect. Better software and faster means of communications will mean that we generate more valuable leads for our clients. We also expect to offer a qualitatively higher order digital marketing experience to our customers. Also, while keeping our customer’s data secure has always been paramount and we have never allowed any data we have collected to be compromised; we expect to be keep information collected by us more secure than ever before in the future.
Serving our clients has been our fondest desire and we are poised to do so well. In the future, we expect to serve our customer by employing new technologies that will allow our customers to serve a broader segment of the market.
Voice&Data: What are the challenges that Polash Ventures is facing today? How do you plan to deal with them?
Lalit Upadhyay: Fear of the Experiments: Any experiment can go wrong and not sometime but many times it goes wrong. You know the possible outcome may go wrong and fighting back this fear becomes challenging but very important.
Voice&Data: Is digital transformation in India in line with other countries?
Lalit Upadhyay: I would like to believe it is despite the fact that much of the country does not even have 2G connectivity and many Indians don’t yet have Smartphones. Its true we lag behind every developed country, include China, in adopting digital technologies across our society, yet when we see how much our digital footprint has evolved over just the past 3 years I would say that we are making tremendous strides. Certainly, urban Indians are as adept as the citizens of any other country in adopting digital technologies and Indian companies are digital pioneers in many specific areas. I think that within just over a decade if not sooner we will undergo a true digital transformation in India. One reason we lag in fully implementing digital technologies is that we didn’t graduate through the different economic stages of production like most developed countries, including China, did. Yet we may well catch up by more fully adopting digital technologies.
Voice&Data: What role do you think should the government of India play to boost the adoption of technology and transformation?
Lalit Upadhyay: One of the keys to the adoption of technology is of course education. A better-educated society will more easily adopt new technologies and use such technologies in their daily lives. There is also the need for better physical infrastructure. An improved physical infrastructure results in the faster adoption of technology because it lays the backbone of communication channels which are vital for technology to be accessible by all. Other measures can also be used to encourage the adoption of technology including government policies that encourage the masses to use technology in their daily lives. The Government of India’s digital wallet BHIM offered monetary incentives to users to encourage them to adopt cashless transactions. Other similar measures may be needed to further boost the adoption of technology in India.
Voice&Data: What are Polash Venture’s plans for future?
Lalit Upadhyay: Polash Ventures envisions being able to empower companies across all industry verticals so that they can provide better customer service and to enhance its customers profits through better management and through better assessment of their marketing strategies. Using our full-fledged digital marketing and communications solutions Polash Ventures expects to become an industry leader that helps organizations grow their business exponentially.
Today Polash Ventures is attracting clients from different segments to its services. It is also successfully creating a portfolio of clients from a wide range of industries. Within India Polash Ventures is expanding across metros and in Tier 2 cities to acquire a nationwide footprint and is expecting to acquire 500 new clients each month.
Globally Polash Ventures is acquiring Enterprise/SMB clients with a goal of having 50,000 Enterprise Clients in FY 2018-2019. We began our global expansion from Dubai and we hope to have a presence in every country located in the gulf and to then enter the UK. Despite being a bootstrapped company we are growing well and hope to attract a round of VC funding soon as well.
Gyanendra Mohan Rashali