If your are the kind who isn’t happy with just a pay packet, decent working hours and the usual perks a good job brings, think about the career in mobile Value Added Service (VAS).
For it is exciting and fulfilling, allows you to work with innovation and different technologies in a fast-paced work environment along with the challenge of comprehending consumer behavior and providing innovative solutions to cater to those niche requirement. It gives you the power to think beyond just communication/ VAS is among the latest buzz word in the communications space and offers fast paced career growth and exciting opportunities for professional interested in building a career in the booming communications tech space.
What is it?
Mobile technology was introduced over a decade ago in India to facilitate communication – primarily with SMS and voice. However, over the years, mobile phones have become an integral part of our lives. A popular cell phone as says: “It’s who we are.” And rightly so, for a simple SMS or ring tone or even our caller tunes reveal a significant part of our personalities. This is where the telecom companies are realizing the potential of offering services beyond just being a way of communication.
However, mVAS comes at a price and cellular operators and service providers charge a premium rate for the services they offer other than basic comunication. Some of the services include SMS (text messages), MMS (Multimedia messages), USSD (unstructured supplementary services data), CRBT (caller ring back tone), video streaming, participation in polls and contests, location-based services, mCommerce (financial transactions), mobile advertisement, infotainment services (news, weather reports, songs, recipes), Instant messaging, content downloads (wallpapers, games, ring tones) and downloadable mobile applications.
Those are only a few that come to one’s mind the moment mVAS is mentioned. However, the list keeps changing as per the handset compatibilities and customer demands.
As an artist would create a new painting on each canvas, mobile VAS is also as creative and vast in its purview. You could be a writer of content, develop games for mobile phones, develop ecommerce platforms, technologies. In short, this career can be what you want it to be.
Today, mobile phones have become the primary source of entertainment and so consumer expectation in also shooting up wit each passing day. Today, we check our emails on our phone. We also book movie tickets transact online through our cell phones.
The growth story
Mobile interconnected industries have been coming up wit fresh and ground-breaking mobile technologies. Mobile VAS accounts for 10-12 percent of total telecom revenues. There are over 375 million mobile subscribers in India, out or which 8-10 percent are expected to be GPRS (general packet radio services) subscribers as well. With the launch of 3G services (faster data speed) in India, games download, mCommerce, video streaming, mobile blogs and mobile chat too are expected to grow.
As per TRAI predictions, mobile VAS revenue growth contributing to telecommunication industry is expected to grow to 30% in the next 5-7 years, which is way beyond the current contribution of 10-12%. Many expects are predicting mobile VAS in India to be $1 billion market by 2010.
Wit the advent of mobile 2.0, cellular phones have become modes of emailing, social networking (twitter), seconds as a camera, a mobile wallet and much more.
As computers develop and new technologies come up in the computing world, there will be the demand to make them available on mobile handsets as well. And as projected by NASSCOM, the software industry is going to grow even in these recessionary times, mobile application and VAS industry will definitely follow suit.
Technology changes every day and thus pushes the sector to grow and change with it. Operators will have more and more mVAS requirements and one can expect to see a huge requirement of professionals in this space.
Currently, there are over 100 mVAS companies in India and the number is growing steadily. Experts expect the industry to grow at least ten fold (from the current estimate of 15,000-20,000 mVAS professionals) in the next 3-5 years. Even if we take a conservative growth of five times, we find a requirement of about 75,000 to 100,000 professionals in the next few years.
As most of the telecom operators are based out Mumbai and NCR many organizations are coming up in these geographies. With telecom sector booming in India, this area is expected to see an unprecedented growth in terms and investment in research, development on one side and consumer spending and new business offering on other.
Types of careers
- Content Developers / Owner – These are jobs with companies such as Saregama and Mauj that seek specialists in developing copyrighted content. Typical roles available are of content executive, senior content manager and project manager depending on skill and qualifications.
- Aggregator – An aggregator is a company that would aggregate content such as games, wallpapers, ring tones and distribute it to suit customer needs and demands. Typical players here are Hungama Mobile and India times mobile. Most roles here would be of project managers and business development managers and requires individuals with a business mindset.
- Software developer (Development Houses) – Software houses developing cutting edge technology and applications such as payment gateways and games. Some players are mchek and Webaroo. Most roles here are of software developers, mobile game application developer/testers, BREW/iPhone/Android application programmer, etc.
- Technology Platform Developer/Enabler – Provides the platform that plugs into the telecom company networks and acts as a bridge between aggregator and telecom companies. Some players include OnMobile and Cellnext. Some of the latest innovations include contextual mobile advertising and media streaming over handsets.Some other roles that will require many qualified professionals are in mobile development, vendor management, enterprise solutions, key account management and product managers, deployment specialists, across operators and enterprises.
Why I chose this career?
Five years ago, I was working with internet ventures and I was smitten by the thought that “mobile phones will be the PC for India”. In USA, the PC is the lifeline for people. However, in India the highest penetration was by mobile phones. I am driven by the thought of what can be done with the power of a mobile phone looked at as an Internet-connected PC. I chose this career to create different applications for the Indian audience through their mobile device.
What are the required skill sets?
All mobile application courses have a pre requisite that students need a strong knowledge of software languages (C, C++, Java) and knowledge of mobile phone software application. In most job openings, it does not specify the requirements of a specific mobile application course.
According to Bothra, the most important skill is to “learn how to learn”. This industry is really about breaking the barriers of the mind and thinking innovatively. It is all about having the passion to spend ten hours with your mobile phone without talking or sending an SMS on it.
Further, Siddhartha Singh who is a Senior Technical Manager at Mavenir Systems, belives: “The key success factor in this career is to accept change. You cannot restrict yourself to only one technology. For instance, there are certain platform where only Java works whereas on a Windows platform it is mostly .NET. Similarly, in Symbian there are many other choices. so one must be open to accept that technologies change at a very fast pace.”
Ajay Pandey, the CEO of Mastiff advises anyone in this space to constantly keep tabs on what is happening on the global front. From there aim to match your idea or creation with the global standards. Keeping updated on new technologies is essential to staying ahead. Work hard and finish one product cycle, do not leave in between.
What is the required mind set?
The industry changes so rapidly that you have to be open in your thinking and adaptable to change every minute. Thinking beyond what you see today and believe in creating a difference. You have to feel challenged enough and desire to be different. The key to this career is to not have a mind set.
Sample Job Description
- 8+ years of GSM /CDMA / WCDMA and wireless technologies
- Understanding of different network elements and services – voice, data, broadband
- Expertise in designing end-to-end VAS solutions
- Understanding of network elements
- Expertise in telecom business understanding
- Experience in SOA technology
- Experience across different technology stacks – Oracle/ Microsoft/ UNIX Administration
- Experience in end to end delivery of at least 2 VAS engagements
- Experience in execution of telecom operations
- Excellent communication skills, good leadership skills