A talk with Mr.Bharat Goenka, the man behind the most successful IT Products in India - Tally - the defacto accounting software in India. Mr.Bharat Goenka explains with a brief history of how they started, "When we started (in the early 1980s) everyone in the software industry was in products, but soon they shifted to services, we were the only ones stubborn in staying in products. We had a belief in India, and Indian Business".
"It is this sense of patriotism, that 30 years back, we said that we would develop products for the Indian market and we as a company will make India an attractive place to do business in."
Mr.Goenka believes "The single most important factor which makes a business grow is Do the owners or the seniors in the business have the time to make the business grow? Senior management is so lost in operations that they do not have the time to make the business grow. Our approach in Tally is to make it possible for freeing up time for the Senior manage-ment, and make it possible for them to access information easily and from anywhere so that time is saved."
This is the reason Mr.Goenka says he is so "Kicked about" the remote technology that Tally ERP 9 now has. He himself has been using it for accessing Tally's own accounts and he says, "I have sent more queries to my finance team in the last 3 weeks than I have in the last 3 years."
"It is not that I did not have access to data earlier, but then when I am in office I have so many things to do. With Tally ERP 9, I can access data in the quietness of my own time." He elaborates that it is the time when between meetings, when traveling, or when he has a few minutes at home, that he can now use to access data that he might suddenly remember or wants to act on. This adds to tremendous productivity improvement. His instructions to his team are not so much as asking them to send him reports as much as actions that need to be taken based on information which is now readily available to him because of this new product. So the quality of work also sees a big improvement.
Mr.Goenka says that Tally ERP 9 is designed for ordinary people to manage a business from wherever they are and for this "a deep technological solution" had to be built. What does that mean I ask him. He gives me an analogy of a cell phone. Now a cell phone can be used by anyone, but the technology used is quite complex. The same cannot be said about Software Products. Though you buy software to solve a problem, they come with problems that need to be solved. Security is one of the most crucial problems that comes with software products.
|Have a deep belief in the market you are addressing, it is this belief that will bring the results.|
For remotely accessing data, typically one needs to put data on a server, with firewalls etc. Now not many businesses have the people in place to manage a firewall etc. So what Tally did was create its own architecture for sharing information remotely, without the need for configuring a server, firewall etc. In essence what it does is, any computer including a laptop can contain the financial data. Now this system gets connected to TallyNet, just like a browser would through the internet. Now anyone else in the company who wants to access the data, can login through his own system to TallyNet and access the data. The data itself is not available on TallyNet, TallyNet just facilitates the two systems to talk to each other. Who has access to the data, is specified by the user himself. In this way any laptop or computer can become the place where data is stored, and any laptop or computer can be used to access the data, as long as the access is allowed.
As Mr.Goenka explains, "Since the server never becomes an internet server and does not open access to an external entity, safety is fully taken care of." The other interesting thing is that for accessing the data one can download a free copy of Tally, and use any system to access data, it is only for "publishing data" that one needs a license.
The development of TallyNet Technology did take time, and it was developed from ground up, echoing a core belief of Tally of creating the right technology themselves. The existing technology did not satisfy the criteria of making it easy for the ordinary person since setting up a server in the office is not an ordinary person's job.
"So why not a SAAS model (Software as a Service)?" I asked. "Most businesses in India operate in an Occasionally Connected Environment" was Mr.Goenka's reply. The product needs to work with poor bandwidth speeds and at low costs. Tally has to make sense for most businesses. So Tally ERP 9 can work on a dial up connection as well.
By being able to access data remotely, the "speed of transaction" increases. For instance imagine that the Salesperson in the company is in the customer's office, discussing out- standings from the customer. The customer requests for a debit note. Now instead of the Salesperson going back to the company, and raising this, he can generate this right at the customer's location itself, using the system at the customer's location.
|By being able to access data remotely, the "speed of transaction" increases.|
Today the Tax laws are quite complex. By being able to remotely access data, affordable service can be provided by Chartered Accountants since he can do the work from his office itself, saving a lot of time in commuting, collating data etc. This adds another dimension for saving some worries to the businessman since he does not have to worry if he has complied with all the taxation requiements etc.
Does the product justify the title ERP? "The product does integrate more than one business function, it has tools for inventory management with cost centres etc. these were there earlier as well, but the reason it was not called an ERP was because it did not fall into a criteria that Mr.Goenka's father had set, "If we cannot manage our business from anywhere do not call it an ERP."
With this release the plan is to address 8 Million customers in India, or 80% of the SMEs. A lot of customization is possible using the Tally Definition Language. So one can add features which are relevant to a particular business.
Going forward, Tally ERP 9 will also integrate with payment engines, to make it possible for customers to pay, and for businesses to track payments better. It will also make it possible to find suppliers and buyers.
Mr.Goenka's message to entrepreneurs, "Have a deep belief in the market you are addressing, it is this belief that will bring the results. Have a belief in India, and India would be transformed."
The author is the Chief Catalyst of Businessgyan, His areas of interest are business strategy and innovation. For feedback & more information send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Issue BG97 April09