We had the opportunity to get in touch with Uttam Pegu, an IVRS (Interactive Voice Response system) expert from India, who has been in the space for a long time and has seen it evolve, he talks to us about how the IVR landscape in India has changed and what further is possible.
Q. How has IVR technology evolved over the last 4-5 years in India especially, what were the use-cases earlier and now, are they different for businesses?
A. According to me, IVR has seen two major changes in the last 4/5 years. Initially, IVR was just on premise telephony with solutions in India majorly used by Railways, BSNL etc. Then suddenly, IVR became voice based VAS (Value Added Service) for the mobile phone industry and became to be known as voice portals.
CRBT (Caller Ring back tone), which is nothing but an smartly packaged IVR, generated huge revenue for mobile companies as well as VAS companies. But around 2010, with decline of VAS industry, cloud telephony or hosted IVR has become new buzz in Indian IVR industry. With cloud IVR or hosted IVR services, IVR has suddenly become affordable by everyone as the initial cost for CTI cards, customised IVR Software development disappeared.
Q. What according to you will be a key differentiation for businesses in the IVR, Telephony space be as time grows and in the Indian Market?
A. I think telephony infrstructure and innovative voice application will be the key differentiation in IVR industry. We might see some consolidation among Cloud Telephony providers in near future. Some companies may become just platform providers while some might start giving voice application for end users using those platform. Also, some foreign IVR players may enter into Indian market in big way once VOIP – PSTN connectivity is legalised in India.
Q. What has kept you attached to this field (i.e Interactive Voice Response systems and Telephony) for such a long time, any personal story behind it?
A. I could not find any other industry as exciting as IVR in last few years, honestly! IVR is still a small industry and I do not think it has grown to its full potential yet. Thanks to the Mobile Phone revolution in India, it has witnessed a rapid increase in telephony density, but it has also become the cheapest telecom market in terms of voice usage. Who could think about simple ‘Missed Call’ to become a powerful message exchange (it is being used for voting, survey etc.) system.
Personally, being in this IVR industry, I could afford to have enough free time for myself to continue my hobby of Wild Life Photography! I also thank few Indian IVR companies being kind enough to sponsor couple of high end lenses for my hobby!
Q. What are some ways you think businesses are still not using IVR, but should, some examples from every day life?
A. IVR is actually as essential as a website is for a business. Every business which has a website, must have IVR too. Most of the time, I feel, many business houses own website just because everyone else is also having one, without knowing or realising the actual benefit of a website. A website is accessible by anyone from anywhere in the world which virtually keeps the business open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Similarly, IVR works as telephone receptionist, a very smart one, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Consider about a situation, when a visitor from USA visits an website of Indian company that lists a telephone number. The visitor dials that number and it rings out without any response and worst part is, the business that owns that website will never know, someone called them when they were closed! Just like a website can store messages for a business house, an IVR can also store voice messages (voice-mail). IVR can be even more interactive than email with integration of SMS. Those businesses who are not using IVR, are losing many prospective clients daily.
We would like to thank Uttam for taking out time and speaking to us