Back in 2006, When I had joined TechMahindra, we had the opportunity to meet the then British Telecom’s top brass. One of the major fears that BT’s top management conveyed to us was that Google could move in on BT’s business. There was always some talk about convergence and voice and data networks to come together. All such terms seemed weird and for us this was all new and difficult to digest.
It has been 6 years now, and I can see BT’s fears being realized. The top guys have long since moved on to more greener pastures, voice services have started emerging over data oriented plans. Things such as Virtual PBX, which used to be a voice based product is now being offered over the network. Using the fundamentals of VoIP, suddenly all the previously voice based products, which used to be the stronghold of telecom operators have suddenly started being offered on the internet/network. If you are confused about VoIP, here’s a great article by Chris Pirillo about the same.
The benefits of turning a voice based service into a data service is two-fold.
Anyone can launch voice based services – sites such as Skype, Jahjah, etc have taken the market by storm. It’s cheaper for the end-user and the entry barriers for service providers has dropped down
Accessibility to the internet is far more widespread as compared to access to a particular telecom network. This means that I do not have to worry about getting access to Vodafone or 3 network in order to use a particular voice based service. As long as I am connected to the internet, I am good. This increases the ease of convenience for end users, and multiplies the target market size for the service provider.
With convergence, the only major loser are the retail arms of the major telecom operators. With most voice based services now easily available over the internet, an individual customer need not look at purchasing the telephone line. What earlier used to be a necessity in each household, the telephone has slowly lost footing in most houses nowadays … to the point of being relegated to a corner in the household.
With convergence comes a change in way different services are being offered, a change in consumer behaviour and finally it serves as an usher to new technologies.
Buzz behind Zoozoos – Everyone is talking about Zoozoo these days. Even me for that matter!! And you know what this is creating my friends? Its creating a buzz … a buzz unlike any other in the market these days. People love it, people hate it … but people definitely talk about it. Vodafone has a winner here – or so one might think.
Industry situation – With mobile penetration in India going to touch around 90% by 2014 (thats 1 billion mobile phones!!!), the revenues from simply voice based services are going to trickle down. What were considered to be luxury services on mobiles (missed call alerts, caller ring back tunes, et al) are now considered necessary services. Living in a country which has multiple mobile service provider also means that all these service providers have to invest for customer acquisition. Which means even lesser charges from voice based services.
Jumping the gun – The only way voice based revenues could be increased is to increase the Value Added Services (VAS) part. Before we go any further, What do you mean by VAS?? Don’t worry, even I didn’t know about them a few months back, I worked in an IT firm making solutions for Telecom Operators and I had no clue what they meant by VAS!! Thanks to those beautiful ads, now I do!! But why will people buy these services, how can they buy them if they do not even know what they means?!? Hence the need for awareness for these VAS was recognized by Harit Nagpal (Chief Marketing Officer, Vodafone India). Ogilvy was given the charge of creating the buzz for Vodafone.
The Buzz Explained – A good buzz can be dissected to have these elements
Clarity of message – Each ad ends with the particular VAS feature. The message is clear.
Simplicity – Ogilvy’s Rajiv Rao, in charge of this promotion knew that the entire idea had to be simple and yet stupefying to cut across all ages and convey the idea. All the ads depict this minimalistic approach.
Stand out – The egg shaped head; it stands out. The cute shape of those zoozoos; it stands out.
Variety – A single idea can also cause a buzz, but over a period of time it dies down, simply because people cannot keep on talking about the same thing again and again. e.g – pink chaddi campaign. You need fodder for people to talk during train journeys!!
Right time, Right medium – IPL for TV, Youtube for online. Zoozoo is everywhere. An nice article by Sushrut Bidwai can be found here.
It’s a great campaign, and I would not be surprised if this turns out to be a case study in a few years. As I finish this post, a question still remains in my head – what will happen if the Zoozoo’s buzz transcends Vodafone VAS and moves on to something totally different (e.g I saw a political ad with the zoozoo theme)?
I think I have already written a blog post by this title, this could be a continuation of the same. When I was working with TechMahindra as a part of their leadership cadre, some of us were asked to meet up with British Telecom’s (BT) Vice President, Warren Buckley. He launched into how telecom, ISPs, content providers, etc are soon converging into one maelstrom of user enabled content. That was the first time I heard of the term Web 2.0. Back then one of BT’s top concerns was that Google will eat up the entire market. That was 3 years ago. This is now.
I am currently working with I2itelesource Pvt Ltd as a Delivery Manager. The organization is into deploying cutting edge solutions for telecom service providers and mobile network operators. They do a lot of business in the Asian subcontinent, and a lot of business comes from Middle East. The kind of demands and promises our sales team does is stupendous, stupefying and sometimes plainly stupid.
Coming back to convergence, back then it was very difficult to plan and put together a service platform for content providers. Now, they can be built by taking ready-made blocks and clubbing them together. Service Oriented Architecture and Web Services in full flow. Makes my mouth water J. Imagine streaming content in real time off a media/streaming server, encoding it so that the user can watch it only once, creating the charge records and charging the customer’s account and delivering the content to an IP-based device (TV/Computer/Projector, et al) for a seamless on-demand service. Can this be done? Yes.
There would be a time when telecom, internet, television and other new age media would converge in one seamless integration. Imaging checking your email on your TV while you are watching a cricket match. This can be done. Playing hookey at work seems so much easier, yes?