Conversational AI agency Versa has announced its joint venture partnership with Mogaé. Versa’s expansion into the country hopes to capitalise on demand for specialised conversational strategy and design in a market with a population of more than 1.3 billion people and an installed base of nearly a billion mobile phones.
Versa India will be a 50/50 joint venture between Versa and Mogaé Consultants, owned by Sandeep and Tanya Goyal. Tanya Goyal will be Versa India’s chairperson. The venture will utilise Versa’s resources from Australia, the US and Singapore to complement its own Indian-based resources, sales team and P&L capabilities.
Sandeep Goyal, an advertising and media veteran has been a past president of Rediffusion, ex-group CEO of Zee Telefilms and former founder chairman of Dentsu India. Tanya Goyal has been a six-term member of the governing council of the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and was executive director of Dentsu India.
Kath Blackham, global CEO, Versa, said the expansion would create opportunities for the Australian company to build a significant Indian operation and fill a gap for conversational AI and voice expertise in this multi-lingual country where low cost smart speakers such as Amazon Alexa and mobile Google Assistants are already very popular.
Blackham added that voice is becoming more and more important in a ‘touch free’ world, and more and more people will now speak to their mobile phone where smart voice assistants will perform a lot of their commands.
“In the Western world, ‘voice’ usage is even more because of Alexa speakers becoming ubiquitous. And because of use of ‘voice’ in IoT, commanding your car from far to switch on air conditioning or commanding your home lights to be switched on, and more. The Versa JV will help create these ‘skills’ for brands. Websites of most brands are not voice enabled; Versa will help make them voice compatible. Tomorrow all banking, including passwords will be on voice. The solutioning, security and authentication on voice is a Versa speciality,” said a company spokesperson.
The spokesperson added the biggest area of opportunity, however, is in the area of call centres. Chatbots in multiple languages can directly answer 70-80 percent of customer questions.
“Perhaps some tech companies in India already have the experience to build platforms such as websites, chatbots and apps but few have expertise in conversational strategy and design. We will leverage our established relationships with Amazon, Microsoft and Google to improve customer experience and make lives better by giving the Indian community access on voice to information they traditionally would not have had. This partnership will give our Australian operation access to a much bigger market, including the ability to trial projects at scale. We look forward to working with Mogaé’s experienced team to support our global clients and partners,” Blackham said.
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Tanya Goyal said the venture reversed the traditional outsourcing paradigm, with India outsourcing tech development and specialist consulting services to Australia and the US. “Versa India will focus on creating conversational experiences that help streamline customer experiences and in developing solutions such as contact centre AI bots, websites and apps that have a foundation of conversational AI built in. We will be working closely with big brands in India to help them realise the potential of conversational AI and voice and how they can best infuse the power of voice within their organisation,” she added.
Versa’s expansion into India follows its launch into the US market close to a year ago. Russ Whitman, who heads Versa operations in the US said, “I have had the opportunity to meet clients both in corporate, as well as government in India. There is a lot of interest in voice solutions as voice makes communication simple. Versa is a pioneer in this space and the Mogaé leadership has the market outreach. It is a winning combo.”