Uttam Soni, vice president and head, enterprise business, from the Tata Teleservices Limited, talks to V Jagannathan about his company's first-mover position in the emerging enterprise mobility segment of the Indian telecom market.
Chennai: If ever you were to ask Uttam Soni, vice president and head, enterprise business, Tata Teleservices Limited, what the words mobile and mobility mean to him, pat would come the reply, " 'Mobile' refers to cell phone and short messaging service (SMS). On the other hand 'mobility' is the whole process that enables an executive to take an informed business decision away from office as if he is in the office."
It is this 'mobility' that will dominate the corporate world in the coming years. Citing a Gartner forecast, he says, 60 per cent of the work force will not come to an office to work from. But work would get done through various modes like home telework, flexi work schedules, remote branch offices, mobile and wireless.
The emerging trends in the work culture and the size of the workforce are new factors that cannot be ignored by corporates, more so by telecom service providers.
As wireless communication is set to play the crucial part in this scenario Tata Teleservices has moved in fast and first to cash in on the emerging new trends through its enterprise solutions package.
Says Soni, "Mobile communication devices are no more just voice transmitters. Technology changes are making these devices far more powerful. Handsets are being transformed in to mini computers."
The upside of the trend is that the prices of high-end hand held communication devices like PDAs are dropping to the levels of low-end laptops. Further various applications are available to actualise an office away from office or a virtual office wherever an employee is present.
"Telecom technologies like CDMA enables running of various business applications in a wireless environment and corporates are realising the importance of wireless communication," he adds.
Here Soni talks about how Tata Teleservices is dialling profits by creating an office away from office for the corporates. Excerpts.
What made Tata Teleservices increase its focus on enterprise solutions?
Because of its significant presence in diverse manufacturing industries, the House of Tata has good domain knowledge in those fields. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has brought the group the global software expertise to develop different business applications.
We have also tied up with companies like MobileOne that have developed business applications. Bringing these together and translating the same into a robust service for others corporates is Tata Teleservices that runs a CDMA telecom network across the country.
What enterprise solutions do you offer?
The major solutions we offer are: vehicle tracking system, automated meter reading for power distribution companies, solutions for banks, point of sale machines, insurance claim management, field force automation, an email solution and many others.
What has been Tata Teleservices' marketing strategy?
The addressable corporate market for us is around 60,000 companies consisting of 10,000 regional big-sized ones and 50,000 small and medium enterprises (SME). This market is further divided into 14 broad verticals.
The telecom spends and the kind of telecom services needed by corporates varies industry to industry. Since one solution does not fit all the industries, we study each company's requirement and suitably stitch a solution together.
Our aim is to get a major share of the total telecom spend of a corporate. This means cultivating long-term relationships. Contracts of this nature are signed for a minimum period of one year. Unless something serious happens the contracts get renewed automatically.
Currently, we have orders from fast moving consumer goods chain, vehicle manufacturers, a power distribution company, banks, media and some others.
Your competition too can offer similar solutions?
At the moment other telcos do not provide have wireless business solutions for as many as 14 verticals as we do. Nor do they have the domain expertise. Further, the CDMA technology is more suitable for deploying enterprise solutions than GSM.
We are present in around 2,700 Indian towns and have international roaming facilities in several countries. Further execution of such contracts requires project management skills. For instance a pharma company wanted the solutions to be implemented over a six-month period.
How big is your enterprise solutions team?
We have deployed around 450 people in presales, sales, project management, technology and other areas.
What is the business potential you see in this space?
We launched this service only recently and in the first year of operations we hope to earn Rs600 crore. In three years we will treble our revenues. While the subscriber base may be small compared to the retail market the average revenue per user (ARPU) is high in the enterprises segment. The blended ARPU will be around Rs1,100.