This week, NASSCOM Emerge featured Uniphore as a key player in the emerging Enterprise Mobility market in India. The feature was part of NASSCOM’s focus on the enterprise mobility landscape as a whole, in which they interviewed businesses, analysts, and developers about the different types of mobility, as well as the most pertinent trends, and the important success stories.
One of the prominent articles in this mobility issue was an interview with Katyayan Gupta, Lead Mobility analyst at Forrester, on what’s driving Mobility Adoption among companies and consumers in India.
When discussing B2C mobility models, he claims that the reason these solutions haven’t taken off is 2-fold:
- The lack of a product innovation roadmap: According to Gupta, with Indian companies, innovation tends to stop after the initial success, so sustainable success stories are few and far between.
- High price points: Since Indian customers prefer free downloads and are typically hesitant to use credit cards online, this tends to dampen the domestic demand.
While we agree that addressing these two points are necessary conditions for enabling sustainable enterprise mobility solutions for B2C companies, they are not by themselves sufficient. Our experience teaches us that the most vital inhibiting factor in this market is actually usability.
There are three three major components of the usability issue in mobility applications:
- Illiteracy & language barriers: Since about 40% of India’s population is illiterate, and many more are semi-literate, they are not comfortable with any kind of text-based communication. This means that most data and SMS-based applications won’t naturally appeal to them. Furthermore, most mobility applications are currently available in very few languages (like English & Hindi), limiting the ability of people to interact in their local languages.
- Low use of GPRS applications: At the end of 2011, India had only 3% of participation in smartphone segment against their population. Indeed, the majority of Indians still interact with their basic feature phones primarily through voice – limiting the usability of sophisticated GPRS-enabled applications.
- Unintuitive applications: Very often, even those who do have smartphones find that current mobility applications are not intuitive or convenient enough to use. For example, we recently had a conversation with the a leading bank in India who revealed that of his 5 million customers active using internet banking, less than 0.2 million actually use their mobile banking application.
To answer these usability challenges, Uniphore believes that voice technology must play a role in B2C enterprise mobility applications. Speech-based applications by themselves can be used by anyone, regardless of literacy, connectivity, or phone type. These applications are also very intuitive to users, whose natural interaction with a phone is speaking. In other situations, we have found that combining speech technology with other platforms, such as SMS, USSD, and data, creates the most customer-friendly applications, as users can choose which mode they prefer to use in different contexts.
Continuing to speak about adoption, Gupta also discussed the fact that the most successful providers of enterprise mobility solutions in India till date are large companies like IBM, Tech Mahindra, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP. However, we’ve seen that these large IT players typically don’t serve the SMEs in India, who can only afford 100INR per user per month budgets. To enable these businesses to reach out to their customers efficiently, we believe that the innovation will come from small and medium sized tech companies, particularly start-ups with an edge in technology (like ourselves). Furthermore, because these SMEs cannot typically afford the hardware involved in building reliable and robust mobility applications, the continual emergence cloud-based mobility solutions will drive down prices and enable adoption.
Together, these innovations in price, platforms, and interface can break down the barriers in B2C enterprise mobility and enable large-scale, sustainable adoption in India.
About Uniphore: Uniphore Software Systems is the leader in Multi lingual speech-based software solutions. Uniphore’s solutions allow any machine to understand and respond to natural human speech, thus enabling humans to use the most natural of communication modes, speech, to engage and instruct machines. Uniphore operates from its corporate headquarters at IIT Madras Research Park, Chennai, India and has sales offices in Middle East (Dubai, UAE) as well as in Manila, Philippines.