Customised mobile data changes business models

NEW DELHI — From helping parents to remember the vaccination schedule of their infants to enabling thousands of employees in a company keep in touch and provide better customer services, instant alerts using the mobile platform is changing the face of business.


Published: Tue 8 Aug 2006, 10:38 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 2:09 PM

Not only business enterprises but also political parties and religious groups are employing these new technology tools to keep track and provide instant communications, says Vijay Shukla, the country head of Gurgaon-based ValueFirst Messaging Pvt Ltd.

Started four years ago by a group of Europeans and non-resident Indians (NRIs) to tap the IT market in Europe, ValueFirst has since made the Asian region, particularly India, the main focus of its customised mobile data service, capitalising on the mobile and Internet boom in the country.

"It is not just business enterprises like media houses, FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) companies but also airlines, railways, political and religious organisations are using this medium," Shukla told IANS.

Providing an array of customised solutions for small and large enterprises, the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) has over 500 enterprises as its customers, such as HDFC, Convergys, ITC, Pepsi, Whirlpool, Apollo Tyres and Gillette.

Having selected ValueFirst for its ability to provide complete solutions, ING Vysya vice president A.B.K. Rao said it has helped the bank to provide customers better services like offering information on balance enquiries and chequebook requirements.

"We are soon planning to expand linkages through the same platform to offer value transactions," Rao said.

In the case of Chiron Panacea Vaccines, manufacturers of combination vaccines, "ValueFirst has provided the platform to facilitate parents to get registered after the birth of their child and keep getting continuous remainders for the next two years," said Masood Alam, CEO of Chiron Panacea Vaccines.

Given India's continuing struggle to improve immunisation rate, Alam saw this free service being provided in some parts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra as a means to ensure that tiny tots get the requisite vaccinations on time.

Other than the initial charge of registering with the mobile toll number, no charges are levied for the regular remainders.

For parents constantly worrying about the safety of their children, ValueFirst is planning to soon come out with a product similar to Walt Disney's for providing children with mobiles that provide connections only to safe numbers and emergency alerts.

The network models are varied according to customer requirements, said Shukla.

So whether it is value-added services like informing customers about the status of their e-tickets and helping with travel plans or soon-to-be-launched weather updates and developing mobile payment gateways, ValueFirst is gearing to offer new solutions.

"We have developed a mobile payment gateway for micro-payments and have applied for a patent in Europe. Once we get it, we would be ready to provide the service for mobile commerce — small money transactions using mobile phones — to serve end-users. It would allow for mobile to mobile money transfer," said Shukla.

The reach of the technology seems endless. Paint companies like Britain's ICI Chemicals and Paints is using it to manage its entire supply chain including helping customers get their exact shade of greys and blues a mobile call away.

Optimistic of India being a major growth centre, Shukla said India currently contributes 40 percent of the company's global revenues of about Rs.200 million. The remaining income comes from Britain, Germany and other markets where it has established a presence.

"The growth is such that even without adding a single customer we can expect to raise the revenues to Rs.400 million this year." The company is nonetheless rolling out plans to penetrate several new markets in Africa, Thailand, Pakistan and Romania. China is another market on the radar but plans are held up due to the unclear regulatory regime.

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