India being a mobile-first country is going to be of great advantage for mobile-tech entrepreneurs, says Sanket Atal, Group Vice President, Product Development, Oracle cloud platform. While speaking at YourStory MobileSparks 2017 on Saturday in Bengaluru, he elaborated on how tech startups can exploit the potential of a market built by mobile phones.
Secret to thriving
According to Sanket, there are three things fundamental for startups to thrive:
- Being able to address a target market: With the data and technology available today, one can easily do that for any part of the world while sitting at home.
- Curiosity: With all online data available, people have tremendous curiosity – they are adventurous; they want to explore and make new things.
- Tech: Now is a great time to be an entrepreneur. Great technologies have launched billion dollar companies – Oracle was aspiration till a few years ago. But not anymore; today everybody knows that such advanced technology is available.
"There are great technologies available today, and startups can avail of it to do great things: AI, ML, big data, analytics – all available in byte size. They help you do fantastic things in your enterprise. There are companies that provide data for the entire global market. More companies can build better interface by studying this data," he says.
Sanket knows his trade very well - the MBA graduate from the University of Oregon, who is also an alumnus of Cornell University as well as the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was CTO at online travel booking platform MakeMyTrip and general manager of CA Technologies' India tech centre. He envisions a world in which mobile will rule.
He explains, "Can we exchange our cell phone for 60 seconds? People will be uncomfortable because the cell phone is running our lives. Companies are using it to interact with customers in a personalised manner."
According to him, the future belongs to chatbots and messaging, virtual personal assistants which might enable you to ‘swipe’ with your glasses on.
"Email is not the best mode of communication. A lot of companies are moving to messaging interfaces like Slack. The entire paradigm of interaction is changing," he says.
Of course, the number of people using mobile phones is increasing every day. Sanket warns entrepreneurs that if they don’t make the best of it, they will be left behind. Elaborating on how more people want to use chatbot, he gave the example of Wechat app in China which is not just a messaging app but also facilitates shopping, cab booking, food orders, etc.
In India, a similar movement has begun. Sanket points to non-English speakers in the country using Whatsapp with voice messages.
Chatbots to grow
According to a Facebook Messaging Survey conducted across users above the age of 18 over 14 markets, 59 percent users are messaging more than they did two years ago and 56 percent expect to increase their messaging over the next two years. Among the people surveyed, 63 percent say that their messaging with businesses has increased over the past two years and 53 percent said that they are more likely to shop with businesses they can message directly.
Saket believes that the convergence of AI, ML, and messaging can brings about amazing interaction experience.
Statistics say that mobile phone messaging app users in India will increase from 133.1 million in 2016 to 230.5 million in 2020. Gartner has observed that by 2021, more than 50 percent of enterprises will be spending more per annum on bots and chatbot creations than traditional app developments.
Saket warns that building the chatbot alone is easy, but making it intelligent and making it the foundation for your business is hard.
"Being able to do customised interactions in a seamless manner is very important; we (Oracle) enable you to use these things with our platform - with AI and ML – so you can focus on your core competency in your business," he concluded.