Vodafone Idea launches ‘Ready for Next’ programme for MSMEs

Aims to improve telecom and internet connectivity for small businesses

Cellular provider Vodafone Idea recently launched ‘Ready for Next’, a programme focused exclusively on improving telecom and internet connectivity among small businesses, multiple media reports say. Spearheaded by Vodafone Idea’s enterprise arm Vi Business, the programme intends to ‘handhold MSMEs in their entire digital journey’ and has two components - evaluation and MSME offers, which will be available to 2,50,000 MSMEs.   

The evaluation component, developed by Vi Business in collaboration with multinational data and insights firm Dun & Bradstreet consists of an online platform that allows MSMEs to understand where they stand in terms of being digitally ready, helps them identify gaps in their technology adoption and provides details about the  the steps involved in turning into a future-ready organisation, says a report in The Financial Express. This evaluation will happen across three categories - Digital Customer, Digital Workspace and Digital Business, the report said.   

On the other hand, the MSME offers will include services that Vodafone Idea will equip MSMEs with, that will enable them to grow and engage with their customer base and “maintain a digitally secure environment”, the report said. In addition to these, the programme will also offer ‘Business Advice’ to support MSMEs in becoming ‘future ready’, a report in The Economic Times says.  

Elaborating on the services, a report in Mint says that these will include mobility, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud telephony and auto receptionist. Under Mobility, MSMEs have the option to build their mobility infrastructure, i.e., a network of devices used for connectivity, security and administration, or a lease basis. These devices will be supported by Vodafone Idea’s postpaid network, an IBM device manager and come with 24/7 tech support, the Vodafone website says.     

While Vodafone Idea’s integrated end-to-end IoT solutions will enable MSMEs to reduce the complexity and cost of their operation, deliver superior customer experiences and develop alternate revenue streams, the cloud-based auto receptionist, or voice assistant can help MSMEs in streamlining their service related functions, the website explains.  

Speaking to Mint, Arvind Nevatia, Chief Business Enterprise Officer said that the company is “bullish” about the opportunities of rolling out captive or private internet networks for enterprises, including MSMEs. Stating that telcos are better suited to roll out captive 5G network as compared to tech companies, Mr. Nevatia said that used cases of such deployments in large enterprises, ports and mining can encourage adoption in other sectors, he said.   

Commenting specifically on the MSME sector, Mr. Nevatia said that 63 million MSMEs provides a sizable market for the company and that several MSMEs, particularly in the healthcare, retail and electric vehicles segment have shown interest in adopting technology for “business growth, improving efficiency and enhancing security”, the Mint report said, quoting Mr. Nevatia.   

Vodafone Idea’s cloud telephony solutions, specially auto receptionist, are increasingly used in the healthcare sector, including smaller clinics. While the penetration is low, it is expected to increase as more MSMEs get on the path of formalisation, Mr. Nevatia was quoted as saying.