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Airtel, which is looking to monetize demand from its premium customers, will launch adtech in a big way. (Photo: Mint)
Airtel, which is looking to monetize demand from its premium customers, will launch adtech in a big way. (Photo: Mint)

Airtel working on biz solutions for hybrid work model

The telco plans to offer packages bundled with cybersecurity software, video conferencing apps and cloud platform

As India’s vaccination drive expands, many companies plan to adopt a hybrid model — a mix of remote work and work-from-office. India’s second largest telco by market share, Bharti Airtel Ltd has seen a rise in demand from businesses for solutions that support these hybrid work models, chief product officer (CPO) Adarsh Nair said.

The telco is developing packages bundled with video conferencing applications, cybersecurity software and cloud platforms, either by using its existing technologies or buying new products as demand continues to evolve, Nair said in an interview.

“We are doing two things—one, we are simply packaging the technologies that we already have. Second, as Airtel is evolving, we are also realizing that some additional packaging is required, we are buying and packaging those technologies into new products," he said.

Nair also said Airtel, which is betting on digital services to monetize demand from premium customers, will soon launch adtech in a “big way".

He said the telco’s marketing groups use robust channels through which they sell post-paid, prepaid and direct-to-home (DTH) plans. Similarly, these channels will be used to connect the company’s large customer base to enterprises who want to sell their products or offers on Airtel’s adtech platform.

For instance, Airtel will use the adtech platform to link over-the-top (OTT) content player Hotstar’s offerings, bundled with other plans, to offer to its premium customers, Nair said. The adtech technology will be built on Airtel’s core business with marginal investment.

The company serves more than 2,500 large, and over one million SMEs and startups. It had 336 million telecom subscribers as of 31 December.

“Like adtech, we have five-six incubations happening inside Airtel, which we will bring one by one. Everything outside this, we will partner with," he said. Nair did not name the other digital services Airtel is working on.

Nair’s comments are in line with the company’s digital plans.

Airtel on 17 February had announced setting up a special committee to unlock value of its digital businesses. The committee will evaluate the rejig of subsidiaries to increase focus on digital and non-telecom businesses of the company, including music streaming app Wynk, content platform Xstream, cloud-based communication service Airtel IQ, among others.

Wynk Music is one of the core digital businesses at Airtel, which has 30% of its user base from outside the company. Airtel launched Wynk Stage during the pandemic to hold live digital concerts, and it has managed a user crowd of 50,000-1,00,000.

The company aims to expand this to managing 5,00,000 concurrent users this year, Nair said. “The average concert size is now 50,000 and the biggest ones go up to 100,000… We have taken a target of a 500,000-person concert this year," he said.

Airtel will monetise these concerts in three ways, Nair said. Some of these concerts will be available through the Wynk Premium pack, which is the top end of the company’s Wynk bundle. For top digital concerts, Airtel will sell tickets. The company has started earning business-to-business (B2B) revenue through companies that want to sponsor these concerts.

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