Out of the Magic Box
Binu Alex, Ahmedabad
URM is the latest bird to be pulled out of service providers’ hats. Will users be enthralled?
When you log on to the Net, you generally end up frustrated. Even if the bandwidth is good,you probably have far too much information to browse through. The information you are looking for, lies fragmented across these applications, websites and the databases at the backend. What if there was a single convergent solution that would completely transform the way you communicate?

This convergence is called universal resource management (URM), which your Internet service provider (ISP), wireless service provider (WSP) or basic telephone service providers (TSP) will soon adopt and provide you with as a value added service. With URM, no matter what device you use or where you are, information flows seamlessly. The product, called ‘Avtaar’,allows seamless flow of information between constellations of digital resources and devices cutting across interaction modes, network environments and devices. It is developed by a team of professionals under Net4nuts founder Chirag Patel. The pioneering solution of ‘anywhere, anytime and any device incarnation’ or Avtaar, funded by Gujarat Venture Finance, could be the answer to a host of questions. The basic concept of Avtaar, one of the forms of URM was born when the need for enterprise resource optimization to build nimble organizations was realized. The Internet emphasized the need to empower the inter-organization network. URM filled the gap by connecting resources from service providers, enterprises, and other platforms. Avtaar is not a free or paid service, but a platform where service providers can provide users with larger services at a smaller premium. The current value added services that service providers dole out have become redundant and out of the many that exist, only only SMS has made headlines. Let’s take the case of each service provider. What are the technological advances that the providers will offer you via URM?


WSPs for mobile phones

With Avtaar, integration comes easy. It enables access of any information (anytime, anywhere) through your mobile phones at the cost of an SMS. WSP uses a set of SMS requests that are simple, easy to remember and user friendly to access online information without being connected to the Internet. For WSPs, it is a ready to deploy solution with no major addition to infrastructure cost. But to the consumers, the convenience is enormous. The Avtaar servers are maintained by Net4nuts. When the user makes a request at his URM interface, Avtaar will retrieve the data from the Internet using the user’s detailed login and accedes to the request using XML feeds or any other protocol of the client’s choice. This is a revenue sharing model where the cost is distributed as per a preset norm.

OSPs for ISPs

Value-added services have reached a stagnation point. With Avtaar, the user can configure his requirement to just one instance and use a host of services at one go. This also helps the user make the ISP’s homepage his default page, which not only attracts revenue by way of advertisements but also converts it into a delivery channel. It also can integrate existing services of service providers with complementary third party services, facilitating information flow among digital resources. For online service providers like mtnsms or sms.ac or efax, uReach, the platform will be a big leap. But the leap will be more prominent for horizontal portals like Yahoo, Rediff and others.

Basic telephony for TSPs

This is the market in which India has made remarkable progress. The telephone has become a basic necessity now rather than a luxury. Avtaar enables Internet connectivity through a normal telephone line without a separate source for integrating information from the Internet. This is where the service provider can score over its competitor. With giants like Bharti and Reliance in the fray to enter the market already dominated by BSNL, these types of services will decide the behavior of the new consumers.

Neha Patel, marketing manager of Net4nuts believes that the service providers have only provided the service but not the awareness to use them. "That is why a majority of Internet users does not know what POP mail or SMTP is. The same goes for mobile users who do not know what a message center is," she says.

But Chirag Patel believes that the services, if advertised properly, can become extremely popular. In fact, he believes that even if just 500 people use the Avtaar platform, service providers can break even in nine months.