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Exotel’s S. Ganesan on cloud telephony trends

April 18, 2018
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Shivakumar Ganesan, CEO and Founder, Exotel talks about cloud telephony trends and his company’s future roadmap....

How have telecom and IT solutions helped in increasing business efficiency in the BPM or ITes industry?

I would like to point out four different examples of how ICT solutions are helping improve business efficiency.Companies in the logistics industry are integrating cloud communications into apps of the last mile delivery executives, who make calls through the cloud platformbefore going for a delivery. Using this process,the companieshave managed to create a standard operating procedure andtheir first time delivery rates have improvedsignificantly. Similarly, in DTH industry, executives come to customers’ home for installations.There has been a growing instance of customer complaints about delays in installation, which have been arrested through deployment of cloud solutions. Meanwhile, realestate and credit card industries can largely address the issue of leakage of leads by deploying cloud communicationsolutions.I would also like to briefly touch upon the government sector,particularly the gas agencies, where IVR systems have helped in improving customer experience and business efficiency.

How is cloud telephony playing a role in advancing the telecom road map?

We have done a fair amount of work with bothoperators as well as the sector regulators. The cloud communications industry has now become the largest customer of telecom companies.

We haveparticipated in several consultations around how to reduce spam.We have also played a crucial role in helping the government come up with consultation papers on how to enable companies to build applications on top of a telecom network and what sort of licensing regime must be followed.

Recently, Exotel also released white paper on call drops. Call drops has become a very big issue off late. TRAI has taken cognisance of this problem and has done significant work in this space. At our end, we are helping draw attention to the problem andhave sent this white paper to the relevant authorities.

How cloud telephony is benefiting various organisations in the IT sector?

Just like telecom is a broad based technology that people can use in hundred different ways; the same is true for cloud communications as well. We are sort of providing enterprises with basic building blocks of communication that they can put together for creating various different applications as per their requirements.

There are hundreds of use cases for which our customers use ourplatform. But the top 5 benefits for adopting cloud could be reduction of cost, mitigating business risk, improving the overall efficiency of the business process,creating pricing and business models and ultimately, for improving overall customer experience.

What is the current level of adoption of new technologies like IoT, automation, artificial intelligence, big data analytics and cloud in your industry? What are your plans regarding the adoption of these?

There is 100 per cent adoption in terms of cloud technology and everything we do is on the cloud. As for IoT, one of the key innovations that Exotel has done in the recent past is to allow our customers to be able to get a sense of reliability of the telecom network through an API. As for automation, we find ways to automate most of our processes that systems can handle basic work while individuals can focus on quality work. We are only 80 employees in the company and are able to sustain large-scale operations because we introduced efficiency through automation. As for artificial intelligence, I believe there is a lot of scope in terms of adoption.These days, the newer networks are a lot more intelligent than their old counterparts.I am talking about IN - Intelligent Network, IMS etc.However, if we can get a computer to make decisions on behalf of humans, let us say, for routing a call, then I think we would have really introduced AI in telecom. As for big data, we process close to about 4 million calls a day. So, that is a lot of data being generated at the backend. We use a lot of this data to learn a lot more about the quality of the call, inter-operator connectivity issues, inter-circle connectivity issues, mobile to landline issues, landline to mobile issues, etc. A lot of analysis is put into how calls have matured in the past and using this data we try to know whether or not a call that a customer is going to place will mature in the future.

What are the some of the challenges faced by the industry when implementing new ICT technologies?

First challenge is the complexity in regulations across various industries. For instance, BFSIsector has regulations around how stock brokers must store their call recordings, how the ICT systems must store the data of their customers, etc. Then, there are broad based telecom regulations;for example it is not possible to mix a PSTN call with an IP call. There are many of such regulations which ultimatelyincrease the complexity of ICT installation and increase the overheads, as well as makes the job of IT person as well as the software companies difficult.

The second challenge is the inertia or risk aversenessof sorts to movefrom old technologies to new. They think they have already trained their people and invested significantly in old systems. I believe it is a mindset issue which can be addressed by educating companies about new technologies.

Another key challenge is that of disintegrated systems. There has been a rapid proliferation in the number of software’sthat an enterprise uses. Earlier, there used to be only one ERPor CRM. Now, there is a CRM for marketing, sales, support, ticketing, etc. There are too many systems and lots of different kinds of software’sthat enterprises are adopting due to which there is no single place where all the information is available. Any technology that is able to seamlessly integrate all of these disparate software’swill see a higher adoption.

What are the keytechnology trends that will shape the cloud telephony industry in the next few years?

Over the next five to 10 years, convergence of devices and media of communication will emerge as a key technology trend. By this I mean, it will be possible for an individual to shift from one deviceto another seamlessly, not only in terms of connectivity but even move the conversations seamlessly over to the new device. Convergence of medium is another interesting trend. Right now,we think of messaging, voice and video as media of communication. Within messaging, one can think of things like Facebook and WhatsApp. But all of media are walled gardens; they operate insilos that do not intra-operate with each other. We believe that overtime these silos will get removed and it wouldbe possible for people to get into a conference bridge, talk through a PSTN call, convert that call over to a video call when necessary, share a screen and potentially send anSMS to all the participants in the conference call.

The second trend that we are likely to see is that theconcept of call centre as a centre will disappear. It could be possible for a person to be a part of call centre from home, while travelling, in office, from their laptop, from their mobile etc.

We also believe that voice is the most natural form of human communication and right now the two key communication devices between an individual and a system are keyboard and mouse. But, we believe very shortly almost all computers are going to understand human language.

Lastly,we believe that the cost of communication will continue to decline overtime. There is a misconception that because the cost of communication is coming down maybe the relevance of telecom and telecom-based companies is going down. I believe it is the opposite. As the cost of communication comes down, people will connect with each other more often and for longer duration.


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