Wednesday, February 09, 2011

NDNC just got a bit "Smarter"

The National Do Not Call (NDNC) registry is a short sighted solution to the nation's tele-marketing woes. Its strange that in a country built on a pedantic education system, the real life solutions which are implemented never seem to identify educating masses as a possible option. 

Note: to those who implemented the NDNC: your intentions were great; However, its important to look at the impact on Indian business of all types... The fact is that Mass SMS solutions are used not just for Tele Marketing. Since a Bulk SMS plan (primarily for telemarketers) is sold for 5-6 paise per SMS vs a Bulk Priority SMS plan for 50 paise or more per SMS (For Priority SMS which routes around the NDNC), Most Indian firms(primarily SME's) were happily using the former for all their SMS needs: even for critical alerts...Customers usually would demand that decision due to the knowledge that a lower price is possible and most firms would jump at this opportunity to inflate margins; Rashmi Bansal and many others celebrate this spirit and call it "Jugaad"...

Well the NDNC was appreciated at first, but as it went along, it started having detractors. The ones who were affected: All the way from Solution providers, eventually to the ones who wouldn't receive Password change alerts, Medical Appointment Alerts, and so on and so forth became critics of the NDNC. A most interesting and worth mentioning example here is of a "Software Security" Institute which would send the password for newly registered  users via an SMS and since half the nation had parked their numbers into the NDNC these guys would wait endlessly for the SMS ... I found it really silly on the part of this Institute: apparently teaching cutting edge IT Security,  they could'nt take the basic effort to update their systems: Instead they put up disclaimers stating that this is not their fault but that of the govt. :).

But what else does one expect. In India, entrepreneurs and  businessmen are driven by profit rather than anything else. Most Indian Business firms start talking RoI on day 1. The usual plan is to create quick and dirty solutions, as long as they work... and move to quick and dirty solution No. 2. Well getting back to the point, a number of cool firms locked in SMS solutions for their effectiveness and also for the coolness factor involved. The day NDNC came in, these guys were on plan 5 and plan 1 got hit. Most didn't care sadly.

Thankfully, the NDNC solution has been modified and made a bit more flexible and smarter. Now it allows mobile subscribers to register into the NDNC; but also specify their options on industry types do they find worth their time.

One simply has to dial 1909 from the mobile or send an SMS as following:

START [OPTION] and send it to 1909.

There are a number of options to choose from. For example, if you’d like to block all calls and messages, your option code is ‘0’ (ZERO). In this case, you should send an SMS as START 0 to 1909. Other options are:
  1. To block all calls and SMS except from Banking/ Insurance/ Financial products/ Credit cards category
  2. To block all calls and SMS except from Real estate category
  3. Block all calls and SMS except from Education category. Similarly,
  4. Allow only health related calls or SMS
  5. Allow only consumer goods including automobiles related calls or SMS
  6. Allow calls or SMS only from Communication/ broadcast/ Entertainment/ IT related fields
  7. Allow calls or SMS only from tourism and Leisure segments.
As an example, to allow calls and SMS's from the Health care Sector and to block everything else
Compose an SMS "START 4" and send to 1909

On an other front, I am happy that more people can benefit from Plus91 's SMS Based Appointment AlertsPrescription Reminders. Further now more patients can take advantage of our Information Therapy Initiatives such as My Fertile Time.