“OPEX-based offerings are a necessity in the Indian market”

Udi Geismar, Head of India operations for ClickSoftware discussed India’s slow but certain journey towards enterprise mobility and an automated field force with Mehak Chawla

Tell us about your plans and offerings for the Indian marketplace.
Innovations are things that are achievable and that can make money for you. The Indian market has a lot to offer in terms of innovation. We have come with out unique workforce automation offerings for India. We are a software company that’s oriented for the mobile workforce. Our focus is on companies whose workforce is required to accomplish multiple jobs in a single day. Our proposition is that, by deploying our solution, a company can simplify its process of assigning jobs and achieve an increase in productivity.

We started operations in India three years back, mostly focusing on establishing service operations targeting offshore customers. With time, we saw that there was tremendous potential in the Indian market for domestic business and we began customizing our offerings to suit the local market.

How far are Indian companies on the journey towards an automated workforce?
The roots of an automated workforce start with the backoffice and not directly with a mobile workforce as opposed to the common perception. Backoffice automation is picking up in India. As of now we are targeting the big verticals with a substantial field force including telecom, cable operators, utilities, computer & office equipment and industrial equipment providers. We  offer unique solutions around scheduling and, as of now, we do not face any competition here.

Our global revenues are to the tune of $87 million. Around 40% of that comes from the US and 40% from Europe. APAC generates 20% of our revenue. We haven’t cater to China yet and our most significant market in the APAC is Australia, followed by Singapore and India. We see great potential in India for an automated workforce.

Are there any distinctive mobility trends that you see emerging in India?
Mobility in India has a unique twist to it. Unlike other countries,  the price of a smart mobile device is sometimes three times as high as the salary of a field worker or technician. Also, over 90% of the connections are prepaid and the penetration of smartphones is just starting to occur in the cities. What we see happening now is that laptops are becoming pervasive as mobility devices. For the larger part, however, simple phones are the most common devices with the field workforce in India.

For any mobility player to hit the right chord in India, it is indispensable to support all of the devices. The advantage is that even low end devices have WAP capabilities today. There are limitations with respect to the capabilities that simple phones can offer but they can still be used effectively for sharing information in real time and making informed decisions. Though smartphones have the advantage of working offline in areas with no connectivity, a lot of work can be done on feature phones as well.

Are the Indian companies taking the plunge when it comes to mobility and are the SaaS/Cloud models picking up?
We always stress the point that the road to an automated workforce is a journey to be undertaken and not a mere implementation. A change in business is one of the results of deploying our solution. Therefore, it is best implemented in a phased manner. A company can start with basic features and add functionality as it grows. Our revenue models are associated with the number of scheduled resources. We also offer a pay-as-you-go option because OPEX-based offerings are a necessity in the Indian market.

We have seen a lot of customers demanding SaaS and Cloud-based offerings. Testing the waters is easier in a Cloud environment. Another big trend in India that has had an impact upon the mobility space is that there is a lot of outsourcing prevalent with respect to the field force.

Most of the big companies manage their day-to-day field jobs through third parties. Therefore, our solution is also applicable to these third party service providers. As of now, our India strategy is focused around the key verticals, identifying clients and developing our partner ecosystem in parallel.

We already have a couple of big accounts in India including Ericsson and Bharti. Of these, Ericsson is our global account. We also have global agreements with SIs like Wipro. We are starting to leverage these partnerships in India as well. We are targeting organizations with a field force that runs to hundreds and thousands

The biggest challenge in India is that the country is not quite there with respect to Internet connectivity, both fixed line and mobile.

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