Its an oft repeated statement that an optimist see opportunities where others see challenges. It can not be truer in a business scenario esp when something changes drastically in the overall environment.
One such change has been the TRAI’s gag over SMS- the true bane of India’s mobile growth. We used to get 20 SMS daily about new housing projects and a similar number of messages for increasing height or losing weight. So apart from the customers who are genuinely happy, its very interesting to see how businesses are reacting to this change. Do remember that mobile (& SMS specifically) has been a very strong and efficient channel for many businesses because
- It ensured delivery + view (unlike emails which might not be opened or hit SPAM)
- It was real time, so alerts could be sent and verifications could be done while the customer was online
- Cost effective, the cost per SMS from many a providers was as low as 3-4 paise
So once the SMS were put on hold, earlier this week interesting responses have been witnessed from players. Here’s some of the interesting ones:
- Talk it out with the regulator – The JustDials of the world seem to have done this, coz by the evening there was an announcement with a new clause that allowed JustDial/Zatse and few others to send SMS to customers who call in for local search. Similar benefit has been extended to Google/Facebook etc kind of brands. This is interesting because all along, the draft that was circulated contained only a few pre-decided categories where transactional SMS would be allowed.
- Read the fine print and find a way out – Apparently all this applies only as long as you use the pipes of Indian telecom operators to push text SMS to customsers. There are players now offering SMS’s delivered through international gateways (although at a much higher cost).
- What? When did this happen – Its very funny to talk to some call centers and hear their agents give the standard response that you will get a SMS from our side. Here it seems, no one within the company bothered to check/find how it affected their processes. I am sure their Ops guy in on an extended vacation.
- No Problem, we will innovate – well this is the segment that does proud to the word – “Jugaad”. There are players out there selling a “missed-call” solution in lieu of SMS verification. A very smart alternative indeed and the robustness of the current system is the only constraint.
While the change is very recent and many more innovative solutions would come up, one thing is certain- it has casted a death spell on very many business models (read that as VAS services, players selling mobile numbers, mobile marketing services).