Prateek Pashine, president, enterprise operations, TTSL

The enterprise segment is emerging as a key focus area for telecom operators in India. The adoption of technologies like internet of things (IoT) as well as the progress on government initiatives like Digital India and the Smart Cities Mission is opening up revenue opportunities. Tata Teleservices Limited (TTSL), a leading operator in the enterprise space, is positive about the growth of its enterprise business and aims to become a one-stop-shop business solutions provider to large as well as small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Prateek Pashine, president, enterprise operations, TTSL, shares his views on the growing relevance of the company’s enterprise business and the various opportunities that the company plans to tap in the future…

How has the role and contribution of the en­­­t­e­rprise segment evolved across telecom ope­ra­tor businesses in the country? How have TTSL’s enterprise offerings evolved in recent years?

The business landscape is changing fast, fuelled primarily by the rapid adoption of digital technologies by large, medium and small enterprises. Telecom infrastructure and connectivity are at the core of this development, and operators are leveraging them by moving up the chain in order to provide more value to their customers rather than just offering connectivity or infrastructure-related services.

Some of the key drivers of the enterprise segment are increasing proliferation and affordability of new-age technologies like SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud); growing adoption of IoT and its applicability across industries and segments; and the push from government initiatives such as Digital India, Smart Cities Mission, etc.

As enterprises have evolved, so has TTSL and its product portfolio. We have moved from being just a provider of telecom infrastructure to being a one-stop-shop business solutions provider. Going digital is not as simple as it may seem and for many of our customers, it is a complex journey, of which we are an integral part. We offer core voice and data connectivity services. We were the first to offer cloud-based IoT services and software-as-a-service solutions to enterprise customers. TTSL has set up a robust infrastructure, which includes the country’s largest fibre optic backbone spanning 125,000 km and connecting all the major cities. Through our vast network of about 1,200 channel partners across 60 cities, we reach out to millions of SME customers.

Currently, the enterprise business constitutes around 30 per cent of TTSL’s overall revenue. Our large enterprise and SME segments are growing at 10-12 per cent and 15 per cent year on year respectively.

Which are the key focus sectors within the company’s enterprise portfolio?

TTSL offers end-to-end information and  communication technology solutions to enterprises of all sizes and across multiple business verticals. The company has its fo­cus across sectors such as IT/IT-en­abled, banking, financial services and insurance, manufacturing, e-commerce, automobile, health ­care, logistics, media, etc. Conside­ring that the country is now witnessing an entrepreneurship boom, we are paying very close attention to the needs of start-ups across the country.

Where do SMEs fit in the company’s strategy?

The SME segment is growing rapidly and adopting new technologies to service their customers faster and better. These technologies enable SMEs to manage their organisational functions more efficiently by connecting offices, partners and the larger ecosystem for collaboration and proactive servicing.

There is huge potential for future growth in the SME space as we believe that only a fraction of SMEs have em­braced technology in a big way. There are over a million accounts, so we have a lot of ground to cover. The key to doing business in this segment is how quickly and easily can we provide services to these customers.

We at TTSL are helping SMEs chart their digital growth strategy. We regularly organise consultative sessions in order to enhance SMEs’ understanding of digital technologies. We have also launched a Digi­tal Advisory Council, a panel of ex­perts and industry stalwarts, that helps SMEs craft a cogent digital and business strategy. We had our first round of entries in March 2017, and want to continue with this initiative.

What are your views on the adoption of IoT by Indian enterprises? What has been the response to TTSL’s initiatives in this segment?

In India, IoT is gaining traction in a few areas but it is still in its early days. India released its first IoT framework in 2014, with the aim to create a huge market by 2020, which would impact the growth of connected devices from the current 200 million to 2.7 billion. Even if half of that number is achieved, it will be a staggering number of end-points. IoT is seeing successful adoption in the utilities, logistics, transport and retail segments in India. However, its large-scale adoption and implementation is still a challenge.

TTSL was the first telecom service provider to set up an IoT practice in the country. At present, TTSL is offering IoT solutions in fleet management, asset tracking and automated meter reading for utilities. We plan to offer solutions across more use-cases during 2017-18.

What opportunities does the Digital India initiative present?

Digital India is a bold initiative that can transform the country. Service providers will play an increasingly important role in the digital disruption as the country moves rapidly towards a mobile-and cloud-based world. Digital India will transform the way industries such as ban­king, retail and manufacturing operate. It will propel SMEs to adopt and adapt to digital realities. The huge surge in mobile devices and internet connectivity along with digital services both in the private as well as government sectors will need massive networks and infrastructure.

As enterprises have evolved, so has TTSL’s product portfolio. We have moved from being just a provider of telecom infrastructure to being a one-stop-shop business solutions provider.

What will be the key focus areas for the company in the coming years? What are the growth targets?

Much of the growth and innovation in most advanced economies is fuelled by their SMEs. It will be no different in India. Once cutting-edge technology is available on a pay-as-you-go model, SMEs in India would finally get to play a pioneering role in the growth of the economy. We at TTSL would like to play the role of a technology catalyst that enables SMEs to realise their full business potential.

In the next few years, we aim to reach out to the next 1 million potential SME customers. TTSL aims to double its customer base to 100,000. We also plan to double the growth trajectory to 25-30 per cent. The optimism for such high growth stems from the huge headroom available in the SME space.

What are the three technology trends that will rule the enterprise market in 2017? 

Technology in the enterprise space will not be radically different this year from what it was in 2016. However, the ongoing trends may accelerate or evolve, as technologies mature and businesses get more familiar with them. The following are some of the key trends that we will continue to experience in 2017…

  • Adoption of digital and social platforms by enterprises: Over the past couple of years, an increasing number of enterprises have started using social and digital media platforms to engage with their customers. In order to become a seamless part of their lives, businesses are giving customers the ability to interact with them at any time, from anywhere and from any device.
  • Adoption of cloud by SMEs: The large-scale adoption of cloud services by SMEs across business verticals is allowing them to be more flexible and agile, more in tune with local customer needs and able to serve customers more effectively. Cloud adoption by SMEs in the country has witnessed a compound annual growth rate of 20 per cent in the past four years. Going forward, this progressive movement to cloud will continue at a sustainable pace.
  • Enterprise mobility and IoT: The modern workplace is no longer limited to plywood cubicles in tall steel and concrete buildings. Instead, work can happen from anywhere, irrespective of the employee’s physical location. Enter­prise mobility is the future of the mobile landscape, and in the coming years, it will be the primary focus of every organisation while budgeting their IT investments.

TTSL is offering IoT solutions in fleet management, asset tracking and automated meter reading for utilities. We plan to offer solutions across more usecases during 2017-18.

IoT, and the rapidly increasing set of devices, sensors and things present an opportunity to connect everything together. There is no doubt that tremendous value will be generated by all of these connected objects and devices. Data and information will take on a new meaning.