Smartphones, BYOD To Drive Cloud Telephony

by Sohini Bagchi    Jul 15, 2014


Indian cloud telephony startup Knowlarity has strengthened its business with the buyout of rival company Unicom Techlabs earlier this year. The Gurgaon-based firm is bullish on the cloud telephony market and looking for further buyouts and expansion in coming months. In an exclusive interaction with CXOtoday, Ambarish Gupta, Founder and CEO, Knowlarity explains how newer trends such as BYOD are changing the cloud telephony market and talks about his company’s plans to capture the vibrant market.

“As the Cloud has proved to be a game changer for businesses, we see a huge potential for Cloud Telephony, a 300 Crore industry in India, growing at 35% year over year for the next three years,” says Gupta, who believes that the growth will mostly come from new start-ups that are innovating with the latest cloud technologies, with a strong focus on the SMB market.

Gupta sees cloud telephony as a boon for small businesses as unlike more capital intensive on-premise systems, this one requires no upfront investment on Capex heavy PBX, severs or cooling racks, and one can plug into a cloud telephony system anytime anywhere with internet access from a desktop or mobile.

Challenges to overcome

According to Gupta, the biggest challenge with cloud telephony so far is the lack of knowledge among smaller businesses about the benefits of the cloud. quoting a CII-IMRB conducted a survey of 8000 SMB’s across the country he says that only 4% of businesses surveyed were using some form of cloud service or the other. Some of those surveyed did not know that they were using cloud services.

“The MSME segment is not very IT literate in India and it is tough selling IT products when market awareness in IT products is so low,” he says adding that selling in Singapore is much easier because there the markets are aware about the benefits of cloud technologies. Also the mid-market segment in India is cash strapped which makes it even more difficult to market our business telephony solutions effectively in this segment.

“While lack of awareness about cloud technologies and low broadband penetration in the country seems to be holding back cloud adoption, as it improves, SMB will look forward to cloud technologies to reach out to their market, improve productivity and consumer IT solutions,” states Gupta.

He also believes that the SMB segment is huge in India contributing 40-45% of the GDP, but, at the same time, one of the lowest consumers of IT solutions. Telephony solutions today cater to big companies running mammoth IT budgets. “The need of the hour is a communication technology platform that will fit the pocket of the SMB owners. Cloud telephony is filling this space with high pedigreed business telephony solutions available in a smart pay as you go format,” he says.

Benefits the SMEs

On how Cloud telephony can help businesses, Gupta says since it is built on a hosted platform, businesses can build new branch communications capabilities from scratch in less than a day’s time. This can be plugged into existing telephony networks through extensions providing uniform customer experience.

“Unlike conventional telephony systems there is no need to build telephony capacity in anticipation of demand; cloud telephony resources can be scaled up automatically with rise in demand and released when demand recedes. Besides building up communications capability cloud and business telephony helps in capturing leads, ensuring no leads are lost in the process, nurturing leads for business development,” he says adding that as a result, it improves marketing ROI by targeting channels that are more productive for the business and also improves customer services.

At present customers in verticals like e-commerce, real estate, healthcare, education, and media are the primary users of cloud telephony, but Gupta sees many more addition to this list in the coming years.

Emerging trends

With the smartphone market growing at a phenomenal rate and with the rise of the BYOD trend, where more employees are bringing their personal devices and apps to work, more businesses will start looking at cloud telephony more than a mere cost saving option as a business productivity tool going forward.

The company started in 2009 by two IIT Kanpur graduates, Ambarish Gupta and Pallav Pandey, has come a long way expanding into more than 65 countries, while catering to SMBs with its online communications services such as SuperReceptionist. “SuperReceptionist comes with customer voice recording that can help businesses study call patterns and improve services accordingly. It provides a communication hub for managing all types of business communication activities: telephony, IVR, fax, call conferencing,” he explains.

With an eye on expansion, Knowlarity is looking at revenue of over Rs 75 Crore in the next one year, banking on new products and acquisitions.  Gupta is bullish on the emerging markets of Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, where it sees a lot of growth opportunity for cloud telephony. He also believes Unicom Techlabs’ own cloud telephony solutions catering to diverse verticals, his company has further have an edge in the cloud telephony market in the country.