Manish Bajaj , Country Manager-India and Middle East , Aspect Software

Aspect's Performance in Last Year

In India, Aspect has been consistently growing faster than the industry rate. Today, customers across the globe are shifting toward self-service for conversations ranging from basic information to resolving their critical queries. In India, we are witnessing a large digital wave and soon we can expect self-service to become a powerful platform for government to provide citizen services and companies to provide personalized experiences. Aspect has been able to gauge this shift and create solutions that can help us leverage these changes well in advance. Besides enriching our current set of offerings, last year we launched the next-generation self-service platform Aspect Customer Experience Platform (CXP) in India. It is a highly customizable and powerful ecosystem that utilizes next-gen technologies like automation and Natural Language Understanding to help enterprises serve customers better. This platform enables companies across verticals to build an omni-channel customer contact center which is truly engaging.

Company's Growth Plans for the Next Year

After seeing a staggering year in 2016, we are all set to take some bold steps in the region and take our growth to the next level. There is a strategic approach which has been laid in alignment with our global strategy of being ready with a cloud environment, which can help our customers take advantage of cloud in coming years.

Speaking specific of India, there are two key focus areas that we are working on.

First is to further strengthen our partner ecosystem. We have been working with partners ranging from industry specialists like CS Infocomm, Tecnomic, and more, to large technology companies like HCL Technologies, Wipro, and so on. 2017 will see the partner network become extremely strong as we join hands with some selected technology companies, which have a big name in the industry and have a strong focus on customer experience and digital space. The execution stages are already in progress with them and soon you will see Aspect's strong engagement with large system integrator companies, helping create newer growth avenues for both Aspect and its partners.

Second, focus is definitely on cloud solutions. We already offer our cloud-based contact center, WFO and IVR cloud, the hybrid and managed services options to our India-based clients with operations in the US and the European markets. In parallel, there are initiatives to bring cloud offerings for domestic customers also, which will help us tap a huge market consisting of mid-large-sized enterprises.

Addressable Market Size

There are two ways to define the addressable market size. One, we look from the solution-offering perspective, where Aspect offers complete suite of interaction management, workforce optimization, and self-service solutions, over on-premise and hosted options, for industries as diverse as BPOs to healthcare, or e-commerce, manufacturing, and more.

The second way to define addressable market size is the number of consumers we are able to connect with brands, which are Aspect's clients. A GSM Association report published in March 2017 stated that India will lead the world in smartphone adoption with a net addition of 350 million connections in 2016–2020. The report estimates were based on the GSMA Intelligence Consumer Survey 2016 conducted across 56 countries on the mobile usage trend. Now, this is what, according to me, will redefine the potential that Aspect can address. Every connected consumer leads to conversations with multiple brands. And our strategies are defined keeping such growth matrices in consideration.

Major Projects Undertaken by Aspect

Aspect has been strong in both retaining customer base as well as onboarding new logos. In 2016, while we continued strengthening our relationship with our large customer base from verticals like BPO, banking, insurance, and e-commerce, one key project that we undertook was to help a healthcare revenue management company based out of India and serving US clients, have their complete contact center setup migrate to Aspect Zipwire, a cloud-based contact center solution. The project was exciting as it had multi-location deployments besides India geography and migration to cloud where evident results were being seen by clients immediately after deployment.

Aspect's Channel Partners

Over the years, Aspect has successfully created a good mix of partners ranging from industry specialists such as CS Infocomm and Tecnomic, to large system integrators such as Wipro, HCL Technologies, and more. We individually look at every client's requirement, assess it, and propose to the partners we feel are best fit to work on their requirement. So far, we have seen customers appreciating our recommendations and the efforts Aspect's partners and Aspect's team puts in to ensure timely delivery of what has been promised.

Challenges and Opportunities Faced by Aspect

On challenges, I would say that bringing Aspect's cloud-based offerings to India for domestic customers is one of the top priorities for us. In addition, what I am seeing is that there is still some space for clarifications, in the guidelines laid by the government for customer engagement over cloud. Today, telecom regulations which allow voice services such as contact center in cloud are not yet clear in India. We understand from DoT that they are working on defining fresh guidelines on this subject but timelines are unclear.

The second challenge, which will soon convert into a huge opportunity, is the emergence of self-service economy in India. Today, due to the investments made by a company in native contact center setup, they are reluctant to include self-service solutions. But as the myths around the investment reduce, and awareness around benefits of creating a self-service environment for consumers increases, we are sure to see a big opportunity coming our way.

As for opportunities, I believe that the booming Indian e-commerce industry is one of the biggest opportunities for Aspect. On one side, we are seeing huge amounts of investments being made in this industry and some consolidations being made, on the other, we are also seeing a tremendous increase in the number of transactions. With increase in number of transactions, we expect a rise in customers' conversations from queries to complaints, and in a competitive environment that prevails in Indian e-commerce, it is crucial for companies to timely answer each and every query with the apt information. Any delay in the response will prompt the customer to move to other e-commerce platforms. Hence, in order to handle the influx of such inquiries and complaints, the e-commerce companies need to adopt self-service solutions, which provide an instant and hassle-free service to their customers.

An Overview of the Industry

India is a matured and well-established contact center market, where growth around core voice-related application segments is witnessing a slowdown. Whereas advanced emerging solution areas around self-service are likely to fuel the next phase of growth, it will also be innovative use of existing non-voice technologies around IVR, SMS, etc., which will create some disruption in coming years. We are also seeing workforce optimization and analytics being leveraged by customers for precise identification over multiple channels on peak loads, and improve accuracy, costs, and service. Adoption of such optimization tools is likely to accelerate further. Social media has gained a foothold as a viable customer interaction channel because it allows for enterprise promotions and brand management as well as customer support. Increased use of chat is due to customer preference for texting and instant messaging as well as richer chat functionality.

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