During my recent travel to few cities in India, I had interaction with many people in telecom and IVR world. One thing which was common opinion among them was, on-premise IVR systems are making a come back. And at the same time, cloud telephony acceptance is also going up.
I feel, cloud telephony in India has helped acceptability of IVR system in India. India is one of the few countries where voice mail system never really put to use. There were very few and line phones and when telephone revolution came, it was mobile phone which had many features already and voice mail system never really taken off unlike western countries. So, naturally, with low telephone penetration, IVR, which is a value added service, never really had high usage in India.
But with Cloud Telephony, IVR is becoming well known and IVR usage is going up. Still, I think Cloud Telephony has following issues in India which is why on-premise IVR is also making a come back:
1. Pricing is not right
Cloud Telephony Pricing seems to be very low while it has great value for any corporates or SME. Pricing strategy should have been correct by all cloud telephony companies in India so that it was rightly priced, not competing with outbound call charge of mobile phone.
2. Marketing of Cloud Telephony Service
Most of the cloud telephony services are marketed as some IVR service for picking up call, maintaining a call record for future analysis. Actually, any IVR service, be it on-premise or cloud, does much more than keeping call records. It can directly help convert an enquiry to sale, reduce cost of operation and increase efficiency. Most probably, cloud IVR solutions should be marketed on these lines.
3. Pitching as replacement of legacy PBX
Many cloud IVR services are just bringing the existing PBX feature to cloud. For example virtual receptionist. This simple auto attendant feature in a legacy PBX is widely marketed as important cloud IVR service. While the fact remains that, it is just a small feature that is built in any legacy PBX.
4. Quality and mushrooming of many Cloud Telephony Service Providers
Many smaller cloud telephony service providers have come up recently with few PRI lines and with installing low cost CTI boards in Asterisk/FreeSwitch etc. With little overhead, these smaller players are aggressive on pricing while unable to maintain quality of service. Cloud telephony service is a telco grade service which surely require premium hardware/software and trained manpower.
5. Thirdparty integration
There is requirement of cloud IVR telephony service to be integrated with third party existing applications. Mostly these integrations are provided bundled with Cloud IVR Services and are provided free of cost! While it may be possible for larger cloud telephony service providers, but it may not true for smaller cloud IVR providers at no cost.
Most probably, it is time for all cloud telephony service providers in India to come together and formulate a growth and pricing strategy for the IVR industry in India.