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How Telcos are Targeting Indian MSMEs for Future Growth


India’s top telcos Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea (Vi) along with the likes of Tata Teleservices are increasingly focusing on the medium and small-scale enterprises (MSME). The telcos believe that these businesses get digitized and become better revenue options than the larger established corporates with fixed network service providers. A recent report by Telebu further confirms that telecommunications is leading the Digital Transformation of MSMEs and Startups in India.

The study observes that MSMEs have been recording a steady Y-o-Y growth for more than a decade now and thus play a pivotal role in the growth of our economy. They make up more than 95% of all businesses worldwide and two-thirds of all formal jobs.

While these organizations extensively contribute towards both employment generation and global GDP; they also drive change through their products and offerings. While almost every MSME has been significantly contributing towards this, ‘Tech MSMEs’ that provide products and services through the use of Information and communication technologies (ICTs) do it even more actively. The rise of new technologies has created momentum for tech MSMEs, which have become important actors at the local, national, and global level.

The research sees a significant increase in the number of MSMEs and startups and the trend has gained massive momentum during the pandemic. A number of factors including employment crunch, delayed salaries and most importantly government initiatives like ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Vocal for Local’ gave these startups the requisite push. While in urban areas, this can be attributed to the availability, and accessibility of technology, the internet, and increased use of social media; in rural areas, it is still a budding concept but has been enormously picking up pace ever since COVID-19 entered our lives.

Due to the adoption of ‘Digital India’ initiatives, digitization is foraying into the rural areas as well and this has facilitated the rise of small and mid-size businesses in rural cities of India too. Technological advancements and the myriad of communication tools has allowed to aid in this trend.

The key trends Telebu researchers observe in this space include:

  • Technology has been at the forefront of success for many MSME’s and startups ever since the onset of the global pandemic
  • Real-time unified communication technologies and audio conferencing technologies have enabled remote work
  • Call center suites and conversational technologies are enabling MSME’s and startups to create a more personalized customer experience.
  • Call center suites and video conferencing technologies are also transforming the educational and healthcare industry
  • Cloud computing has given MSMEs the ability to run their business everywhere, and serve any market
  • MSMEs are capitalizing on data analytics to examine existing customer insights and adjust offering accordingly

Remote working is a trend that has received massive acceptance ever since the pandemic hit us. While the trend was a common sight in metropolitan cities, owing to the pandemic, it also made its way into the non-metro cities. Though the country has been demonstrating impressive functioning of WFH culture till now, certain challenges including lack of proper technological infrastructure at homes, poor internet connectivity and limited communication tools that were a cause of concern initially cannot be ignored.

As the report suggests, innovative technologies deployed by various telecommunications companies came to the rescue. They led to a digital transformation by enabling smooth remote working with their technologies. Amidst this, a consistent rise in the number of MSMEs and startups opting for idiosyncratic technologies to support smooth remote working has been observed in the last one year. In the past year, telecom companies have seen an influx of inquiries from several MSME and startups from a variety of industries including Real Estate, Supply Chain & Logistics, Agriculture, Manufacturing, Education, FMCG, Retail, Health Care, BFSI, IT/ITeS, Energy, Mining & Metals, Aviation, Biotech etc.

Another observation made in the past year was personalized customer experience. Telecommunications firms and tools are laying a path for MSMEs and Startups to enhance customer experience with the help of technology. Digital technologies are allowing companies to enhance the way they interact with customers at every stage of the customer journey. They are positively increasing buyer’s engagement and perception of the brand with the help of various conversation marketing tools available in the market.

In this pandemic time, where social distancing is the new normal and business travels are suffering a setback, conversation marketing tools and complete call center suites are enabling global customer support, the study highlights some of the ways it is being used are: 1. 24X7 communication support 2. Multiple language support and 3. Data collection: These technologies are helping companies maintain data records that can be utilized in the future for analyzing consumer intent and preferences

According to Telebu, there are single-window software products available in the market that are loaded with all the tools and applications one need’s to manage an inbound, outbound or blended call center on the cloud or onsite is helping the company manage queries and build better relationships.

Furthermore, Cloud computing has given MSMEs the ability to run their business everywhere, and serve any market. Because cloud applications are now available on a pay-as-you-go or pay-as-you-grow basis, startups and MSMEs have had the opportunity to grow. On top of it, cloud computing has also given them the ability to function and hire remotely.

Data analytics is another prominent tool deployed by the telecom players to help the startups and MSMEs. MSMEs are capitalizing on data analytics to examine existing customer insights and adjust offering accordingly. Additionally, ever since the modern cloud has become affordable, business intelligence solutions are being used by several MSME and startups for the betterment of their offerings. In fact, the telecom players have seen several companies requesting them for usage data insights to enhance their internal and external communication.

Not just this, data analytics is also being used to improve customer experience. Many companies are using in-depth real-time knowledge to understand buying behavior and enhance services being provided.

Summing up the year gone by and the industrial changes being introduced, Satya Yeramsetti, Founder & CEO, Telebu, said, “The past year has been a year full of unexpected happenings, eventually giving rise to a number of new innovations. The patterns that were predominant in the past have continued defining the previous year too.

Voice Recognition on a Video Call, Improved Privacy & Security settings, Virtual Events & Conferences with Augmented Reality, Improved Collaboration Capabilities and Integrations to apps, bots or Social Streaming Platforms are few of the trends that are providing the required impetus for the startup and MSME industry.”

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