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'Enterprise Mobility Is Going To Be Huge'

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Could you shed light on the services Gupshup has to offer?
We mainly focus on enterprise mobility services for small and large businesses. There are about 5,000 large businesses and 25,000 small businesses that we serve and the type of services we offer are mobile services for these enterprises to engage their customers and also for communication. For example Facebook in US wants to engage the audience in India so we enable mobile to web and web to mobile for Facebook in India exclusively. If anyone wants posts on Facebook to come as SMS or friend requests or anything, we enable that. We enable that for Twitter, for Nokia Life Tools and for e-commerce sites. We were the first to start with Snapdeal. We have Flipkart and almost every e-commerce websites. We also have lots of financial institutions that send backing alerts and transportation. These are key products and services that we offer to vaious sectors.

What Exactly Is Webaroo?
Webaroo is the parent company. Webaroo Inc and Gupshup is a unified messaging platform. What we are saying is that there is a big change in India. If you look at the telecom revenues, it is about 40 billion and non-voice is 15 percent, i.e. 6 billion. 2 years ago the focus was more on SMS and and caller ring back tones and now it is 4 per cent SMS, 2 per cent caller ring back tones and 9 per cent data. So as people are moving towards data, we also enable people to send messages on Whatsapp or in-app. There is a HDFC bank app, we enable it to communicate in-app. As people are developing new apps, before model used to be go, put it out to the carrier and give them 70 per cent and you keep 30 per cent. Today I just develop an app and put it and put it on a web store and I get 70 per cent and give 30 per cent to them. So the whole model has changed. There's going to be lots of new apps where they need notifgications through in app, via sms,  via voice and stuff like that. I think that the uniifed messaging part for the enterprises is that in a country like India where 900 million people are on mobile and cost of internet access is very costly so even if you are on the internet, not many people have privately owned PCs and also a lot of people in rural India travel to a kiosk to enable internet access, that's one thing. So the personal device that you actually own and is not shared by house or office is a mobile. Even when you have wi fi, people use mobile instead of desktop because you already have a prepaid plan since you are using a personal device and understand the prepaid model. 45 per cent of searches on Google are from mobile, 72 per cent Facebook access is from mobile. So India is very unique given its multi-cultural nature; givent that cost of internet based on purchasing power parity is also different.

How do you help your customers reach their target audience in semi-urban or rural areas?
That is what we focus on. Our 60-70 per cent of target audience is there and we send about 2 billion SMSs a month. Last year we had 36 per cent market share. Our roots started in this area and now we have moved on to data, voice and stuff.

I came across a service on your website - TeamChat. What is it about?
It is not yet announced. We will formally launch it next month. It is Whatsapp for enterprise. We want enterprises to enable to talk to their internal employees. As a sales manager I can check where have my sales guys been and at the end of the day you can also ask them to send their sales report. All this gets collated and comes as a unified report to the mamanger. If you have a big retail sales force and want to manage them, you can give simple and easy forms - I may have an SAP backend, Oracle backend, salesforce.com backend but the data from there hasve to presented be it a leave request, be it my employee pay slip or I want to know what my sales was, all this stuff has to come to mobile and be as easy to use as Whatsapp. 

Talking about unified messaging, how is it driving productivity for the enterprises?
I think it's increasing a lot. If you want to be always on, the whole new idea of advertising today is campaign. You do a print campaign, you do a TV campaign, so it's very topical and event driven. That's not the way you do marketing because if you really think about it - how much Google spends on ads? Nothing. It became a brand overnight because of engagement. Today the future of brand advertising is to be involved in the fabric like Snapchat is just a startup and there are 12 people, Whatsapp is like 48 people and not a single dollar spent on marketing. There's only one sales guy or a marketing guy, rest all are engineers. Future is going to be where I want to get my balance from HDFC. From Whatsapp I type BAL and I get my balance. It is going to be pull based and you want to go where the customer engagement is. If they are on Whatsapp you are on Whatspp, if they are Facebook, you are on Facebook, if in India most of them are on SMS, you send an SMS. This way productivity and brand value increases. For Kellogg's we created a mobile community. Young moms opted into this comunnity and we ran campaigns on weight loss. Today there is no brand loyalty. It is about what does the brand promise to me and what is it about. Acquisition and retention of customers is very important.

As of today how much have you managed to penetrate into various social media platforms?
Think about it - a total of 4.2 billion messages are send out of which 1.5 to 2 billion are sent by us. We are the number one in social media. We are the ones who can handle the scale and give them the analytics that they need. When you have millions of messages being send, how do you handle all the reports and analytics? We partnered with Facebook and helped grew its user base from 5-6 million to 100 million in over two and a half years which is huge. Out of this 84 million is user engagement. We also help e-commerce websites like Snapdeal, Flipkart and Quickr. So we have done lots of innovations with short-code, long-code, USSD, voice and SMS.

What is your current market share?
If you look at 2013-14, 37 per cent is our market share, so we did about 150 crores. We grew by 100 per cent while the market grew by 25. We are where the customer is and focused on mobile, data and voice engagement over unified messaging platform which is Gupshup. If you look at the last quarter itself it is about 45 per cent. So, oversall I think next year we will hit about 200 crores and we want to get 45 per cent market share.

Do you also plan to introduce video messaging services?
We can do that but it is also a question of bandwidth. Once 4G comes we may look at it.

With India being a multi-lingual country, how do you ensure that your marketing campaigns reach the target audience?
In India mobile is important because lot of audience is rural. If we take the example of HUL's Wheel campaign, they said 'missed call do and listen to your favourite actor'. Just think about it, people in rural India, power cut is there 8-10 hours a day. They cannot go and watch tv, so sometimes they will just use their feature phones and call a number and give a missed call and get to hear an ad and a song in their language which also becomes a form of entertainment for them. So I think combination of mobile voice, mobile data is more regional and caters to their taste. This will help engage more audince all over India rather than just typical English print media campaign.

I did a check on your Gupshup app and a user review says - Gupshup messenger is good but recently I found that I am unable to send messages to friends from my contacts. A message appears saying that the app is unable to complete your request. Try after some time. There are numerous other similar complaints. What are you doing about this?
I need to look into this. We started of as consumer service where we were giving free SMSs and created an online commuinity of 6 milliion members and as the world moved from SMS to data we launched Gupshup app in January, 2013 and it was supposed to be the Whatsapp of India. We actually enabled data to SMS. So if a person doesn't have data, he/she will  receive free SMS. That's one thing. Second thing is public and private. Whatsapp is private messaging whereas in Gupshup we enabled Twitter wherein you can post jokes, shayari or traffic alerts or electronics or apparels or eduaction. There are a bunch of groups, around 4-5 million communities. So we thought we could get 10 per cent of this 66 million members but what we noticed was that after 6 months we got only a million. Even Hike got 5 million downloads becasue they spent a lot of money in promotion, similar is the case with WeChat. The problem is that people download these apps but they don't use it. The only app is Whatsapp. So we are not a big company which can spend a lot of money and last August we exited the consumer business. We are not focussing a lot on the app.

Last year many firms had their database hacked. How do you ensure the robustness of your system?
There are a lot of security tools we use. I started off at Sun and then I went to business school and then I worked at McKinsey and then I was one of the early people on a company called Akamai where we did global scale. We started off with first round of funding itself within a few months we were having 10,000 servers in several countries. After that my division in Akamai got acquired by Symantec, kind of more enterprise, cloud mobility and all that. At Symantec I had to deal with this all the time. I was running a global solutions group where we had to talk to the people  all around the world regarding security. So the key thing is that you may have anti-virus tool, you may have backup tool but the question is policies and procedures. It is about people,
it is about someone getting in, going to a server and changing something and putting up USB and contaminating it. It's just not about hacking, it is about user error and who has access to what. Thus, security is multi-faceted and the weakest link is always the people - people making mistakes, people leaving their mobile somewhere, people leaving their laptop, not having the right password, stuff like that. So security breach can happen all over the world. We use all the latest stuff and we have had not any issue with the database. We also do lots of big data because we are handling lots of messages and we are also in Cloud.

In long term, where do you see all this heading to?
So I think lot of these terms about mobiles, social media, social networking, big data, and cloud; we are in middle of all this stuff. Overall in India, mobile engagement is going to be huge, mobile advertising is just in the tip. India is just getting started. Today only 2-3 per cent revenue is on mobile. I don't just call it advertising, engagement and productivity for the enterprises will happen on mobile. So enterprise mobility is going to be huge part of India's IT progress and that's one of the areas we are focussing on. There are lots of other things that will happen in India like new apps will come becaue of the democratisation of the app development. Before you required a team and a developer office, now it does not matters. Any kid sitting in Sholapur or Aurangabad can develop an app and then put it on the Playstore. There is no barrier to entry. The way you think about programs and engagement is changing. Coding is not going to be coding per say, you want to do something graphic, you want to do something creative, you go into coding. It is not about Maths and Science anymore, so the way people do programming is going to change. It's going to be all based on tools and widgets.

What are your short term and long term plans?
In short term we want to keep inreasing our market share in India and long term we want to expand globally. So we are looking at Mid-east, Africa, South Asia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Dubai. We want to take this mobile engadgement aand make it a global product.