Few people noticed an announcement in February that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will help fund projects that enable poor mobile phone users to transfer money using handsets.

What was interesting about the announcement was that while many people in the Third World (and also many poor people in the developed countries) don’t have banking accounts, they do have need to participate in the financial system, whether that’s to pay their utility and phone bill or put gas in their vehicle and buy groceries. In addition to not having a lot of money to store away, the poor tend not to trust financial institutions with their money, preferring cash or other real assets as stores of wealth.

Regardless, the Gates Foundation announcement indicates that there is awareness that people in emerging economies do value their mobile phones and companies can use those phones to engage in short message service (SMS) programs that reach previously inaccessible markets.

In fact High Tech & Electronic (HT&E) companies have an opportunity to take an innovative approach to reaching people in emerging markets with another type of SMS  -- sales, marketing, and service management -- technology. We like to refer to SMS as the latter (sales, marketing and service management) and not short message services. The acronyms are confusing and we’ll do our best to make them clear when we blog about them.

Emerging countries offer high growth environments, characterized by strong economic foundations, large populations and high levels of urbanization. Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) make up 2.7 billion people and have a combined GDP of $3 trillion, with $230 billion in information and communications technology (ICT) spend. These countries have secured their position as bases of broad-based growth because of their advanced ICT markets, established IT infrastructure, high info-density, heightened government ICT support and IP protection.

As such, High Tech & Electronic (HT&E) enterprises need new capabilities in next generation sales, marketing and service management technologies to reach emerging economies, in Tier 1 & 2 cities as well as Tier 3-5 and other cities in BRIC countries. These capabilities include a mega contact center, a sales network, marketing for the masses, services and support network, customer and partner relationship management, networked customer logistics as well as next generation B2B and order management.

The companies who are sensitive to these possibilities will be the next leaders when the global economic upturn occurs. – Han Tiong Law, Market Development Director, Asia Pacific High Tech & Electronics Industry