The cellphone revolution might have changed India’s economy forever, but that’s in turn, fed into an even greater transformation is taking place behind the scenes – the growth in unified communications. For well over a decade, IT gurus have been talking about how convergence in communication technologies would eventually lead to a watershed moment where the ‘how’ of communication won’t matter – all that will is‘who’ you want to communicate with. It seems that the predictions are coming true, but it’s the mobile phone that’s the real star.
Cutting across the length and breadth of India, it’s the mobile phone that binds us together. Cricket scores to Bollywood songs, festival greetings to ordering birthday gifts, mobile tech makes the world smaller,giving us what we need right in our hands.
This mobility revolution can be attributed to the advances in tech made over the past couple of decades, and low cost of entry for a citizen who wants to get connected to the world. But as you’d very well know, mobile devices are a lot more than a ‘phone’. Email,chats, texting, social media… These are the new playgrounds of the new generation – our young citizens and also, new generation of businesses that are harnessing this growth in mobility to increase efficiency across the board.
Let’s just imagine the scenario of a startup that’s expanding its reach across India. It’s almost certain that the use of mobile technology holds a central place in their plans. Whether it’s feedback from customers,tracking shipments, connecting databases, or helping field sales staff keep in touch with their office, a mobility-first strategy is almost mandatory.
But it would also be a mistake to assume that data communications are taking over completely. On the contrary, especially in a high-context culture as found in Asia, and especially India, voice communication swill retain their primacy. As mentioned, a lot of it might be due to cultural factors where a simple conversation can often lead to results you’d only dream about from an email exchange where a lot of context gets lost. What this leads us to is convergence, a future where mobility-focused unified communications holds sway.For the business, this changes everything. On the customer-facing side, it makes it possible to provide a level of service that would have earlier been unthinkable for a small business. Voice support, online ordering, mobile-based social media marketing… the customer can now reach out to you in any way.
The benefit goes both ways – businesses can also reach out to customers, and keep track on all their interactions with them without much investment in costly infrastructure. Internally, mobility promises a quantum leap in efficiency and productivity. Thanks to mobile technologies and the shift towards unified communications, your employees are always connected, with each other, with their teams, and with any databases they need. The free flow of data – inwards and outwards – reduces response times, giving tech-focused firms an advantage over rivals that haven’t yet cottoned on to how this helps.
All that is driven by mobility – but seeing that the mobile phone has been around for so long, what’s changed now? The Cloud. That’s what’s changed. Cloud apps and services might be the true ‘democratizes’ of the business world, letting smaller businesses and startups walk through doors reserved for billion–dollar corporations. Until recently, unified communications were a luxury restricted to big corporate houses. The world’s leading business software firms have long provided enterprise solutions but the cost was prohibitive for small and medium enterprises. Today, the cloud has changed that, and has joined forces with mobility tech to make unified communications a reality for individuals and small businesses too. Thanks to this one-two punch of mobile tech and cloud apps, a fledgling startup can hope to compete with a well-entrenched rival, using the promise of new technology to help it make in roads across the world.
In many ways, this communications revolution holds a greater significance for India and other emerging economies. We have no dearth of good ideas or brilliant reformers and entrepreneurs. What we lacked so far was the infrastructure to put these in action. But with mobility and the cloud coming together to create a unified communications infrastructure which combines data, voice, complete freedom of movement, and lowered expenses, the private and public sector alike will now have the ideal technology to rely upon as they work on their plans.
The ball’s well in motion and can only gather more momentum. As a newer generation, for whom the smart phone was the first real introduction to technology, comes up and enters the workforce, this will only accelerate the shift towards a world where individuals and businesses are free to focus on the ‘what’ and the ‘who’, rather than the ‘how’. In essence, a seamless state of communications where information flow isn’t the bottleneck. Where the customer never has trouble reaching you, and all your employees never have to wait for the data they need. Combine that with the increasing power that’s available to even low-cost devices, and the future is mobile!
As published earlier on ET Tele Talk