To­day we are at the cusp of things

BHARAT GOENKA Chair­man and Co-founder Tally So­lu­tions

Dataquest - - FRONT PAGE - —BHARAT GOENKA Chair­man and Co-founder, Tally So­lu­tions

You have been in the in­dus­try for about 25 years? Can you take us through some of the ma­jor high­lights or trans­for­ma­tions your com­pany has been through?

If we break it up into five five-year pe­ri­ods, the ini­tial break­through was cre­at­ing a soft­ware that peo­ple like my fa­ther could use, who re­fused to learn about com­put­ers. Those were the days when techno­pho­bia was tremen­dously high in the coun­try. Af­ter the first break­through, in the first five years the big­gest turn­ing point that hap­pened was only in the third or fourth year. That time we had around 1000 or 2000 cus­tomers. Yet my fa­ther made a very im­por­tant and far sighted state­ment— there are only two types of busi­nesses, those who use Tally and those who will use Tally. More or less our jour­ney started from there. From there on­wards we started walk­ing two paths on an up­ward spi­ral. One was the tech­nol­ogy path , what all we re­quired to crack such that we can make that state­ment come alive. The sec­ond was the op­er­a­tions part, that what kind of poli­cies and what kind of out­look to­wards op­er­a­tions would al­low that vi­sion to come alive. It set the path clearly for us that we have to be a prod­uct com­pany. In or­der to achieve that you can’t be a ser­vice led com­pany.

For us sup­port was not a source of in­come it was a source of en­gage­ment. So, the next five years cre­ated the foun­da­tion of the way the com­pany ran. We started cre­at­ing the ecosys­tem, and started cre­at­ing the in­di­rect chan­nel and none of those con­cepts ex­isted in the coun­try in those days. By the end of the first decade, the mo­men­tum had picked up. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously the hard­ware in­dus­try started find­ing its feat and the SME pen­e­tra­tion of hard­ware had just started. In that decade, the most im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion that we brought to the in­dus­try was bring­ing the LAN to the SME. It was amaz­ing that how the con­cept of LAN rode on top of Tally.

The end of the sec­ond decade is when we took our big­gest ar­chi­tec­tural tech­nol­ogy change. We came out with a de­ci­sion that we will stop devel­op­ment on 8-bit and will come out with a pure 32-bit en­vi­ron­ment, si­mul­ta­ne­ously mov­ing on to the graph­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment.

By that ev­ery five years, new com­pa­nies came and old com­pa­nies died, but we re­mained stub­bornly on our track. By that time the ser­vices busi­ness in the coun­try had re­ally taken off and ev­ery­one was jump­ing into the bandwagon.

We moved from 80 to 800 peo­ple and we faced the tremen­dous trauma of do­ing that and try­ing to deal with the or­ga­ni­za­tional chaos we cre­ated.

You made a very strong state­ment that SMEs won’t come to the cloud? What tech­nol­ogy or busi­ness mod­els are go­ing to help in reach­ing out to this un­tapped mar­ket?

SMEs won’t come to the cloud by their own, it doesn’t mat­ter it is cloud or some­thing else. You have to go to sell. To­day we are at the cusp where on one side you have got this PC win­dow le­gacy on the other side you are look­ing into a world that is now mov­ing into a post PC, post win­dows and oc­ca­sion­ally dis­con­nected era. The ques­tion that we have been ask­ing our­selves in the last two-three years is how do you think busi­nesses are work­ing in this new en­vi­ron­ment. How do you think of busi­ness sys­tems that will op­er­ate in a con­nected world? So that’s the ar­chi­tec­ture we have been build­ing and that’s the way we think about how cloud can be lever­aged. It is not about tak­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion and putting it into the cloud it is about lever­ag­ing the cloud to connect com­pa­nies to each other and also to other in­sti­tu­tions like banks, gov­ern­ments etc, en­abling ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion for SMEs that they never had.

How do you cre­ate a new ap­pli­ca­tion en­vi­ron­ment which cre­ates ad­van­tages of your premise and takes ad­van­tages of the cloud to give you a holis­tic frame rather than putting a ques­tion to you that do you want a cloud ap­pli­ca­tion or do you want a de­vice ap­pli­ca­tion? Be­cause

you as a user do not want a cloud ap­pli­ca­tion or a de­vice ap­pli­ca­tion, you only want an ap­pli­ca­tion that works for you. Un­for­tu­nately th­ese last 5-8 years, the IT in­dus­try has been ask­ing the wrong ques­tion to cus­tomers. That was some­thing I was in­her­ently or morally against.

You hinted on some­thing ma­jor hap­pen­ing in the next two years, can you give us lit­tle in­sight into what ar­eas you are work­ing on?

There are two broad di­rec­tions we are work­ing on. The one di­rec­tion is im­me­di­ate. The im­me­di­ate is not trans­for­ma­tional in the ar­chi­tec­tural per­spec­tive but at the same time it is go­ing to be trans­for­ma­tional from a func­tional per­spec­tive. Like how com­pa­nies In In­dia can cope with the plethora of in­di­rect taxes. Then we have been work­ing on our new ar­chi­tec­ture which is lit­er­ally build­ing from scratch. One block, which we are us­ing in­ter­nally right now, is a con­cept we call as Tally Space. The con­cept of tally space is you will have your data on tally space, it will re­side on your de­vice or in your of­fice, you may even take public in­fra­struc­ture, it can si­mul­ta­ne­ously ex­ist in more than one place. For you, you will only have a con­cur­rent sin­gle view of all your data. Sec­ond is the con­cept of Tally Scope.

The whole con­cept of Tally Scope is to ab­stract the way you do your tech­ni­cal im­ple­men­ta­tion, from my tech­ni­cal im­ple­men­ta­tion and we are now go­ing to be able to talk to each other with­out wor­ry­ing about how you deploy your tech­nol­ogy ver­sus how I deploy my tech­nol­ogy. Once you have done th­ese things then it be­comes pos­si­ble for peo­ple to col­lab­o­rate with each other.

Are or­ga­ni­za­tions okay with a col­lab­o­ra­tive kind of ac­count­ing and fi­nan­cial man­age­ment sys­tem? What could be the pos­si­ble chal­lenges?

Chal­lenge is in the abil­ity to reach out. At the same time, it is also about the con­cept. So how do you have enough one to one con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple that they ac­cept the con­cept? It is not about ac­cept­abil­ity hap­pen­ing be­cause of peo­ple un­der­stand­ing it, it is ac­cept­abil­ity hap­pen­ing be­cause you are able to make peo­ple un­der­stand.

Is this the ba­sis on which you are mak­ing a state­ment that by 2030 you want to be the tech­ni­cal fab­ric for the eco­nomic growth of the world? Also, do you think the tag of ‘Made in In­dia’’ comes in the way some­how?

Hon­estly the an­swer is No. Let’s take any or­ga­ni­za­tion in any part of the world, each of them would be run­ning typ­i­cally any­where be­tween 10 to 20 soft­ware packages. If you ask them do they know the coun­try of ori­gin of those soft­ware packages, the re­al­ity is they don’t even know. Ev­ery­one is only both­ered that whether it is the right prod­uct and it has got the right rep­u­ta­tion. The rep­u­ta­tion is not about ori­gin it is about us­age. That’s at one level.

At the sec­ond level, the way we are look­ing at our fu­ture is ac­tu­ally not look­ing at West­ern Europe and US as our im­me­di­ate tar­get mar­ket. Around 80% of the world’s phys­i­cal foot­print is the emerg­ing mar­kets which is an un-served mar­ket. The cost of serv­ing the mar­ket and the po­ten­tial earn­ing from it is not at­trac­tive for any­one. There we have a sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tage in be­ing an In­dian com­pany. We also learnt one thing, in the pre­vi­ous decade, from the suc­cesses and fail­ures of other MNCs in the world. Let’s say a US based MNC that op­er­ates in In­dia, the sales net­work of the com­pany in US and the num­ber of peo­ple it has got in its sales depart­ment will be sig­nif­i­cantly higher than in In­dia. In­dia is not treated as a mar­ket large enough to af­ford that kind of in­vest­ment. And that’s the way most com­pa­nies have ad­dressed global mar­kets. This re­al­iza­tion has been there. Re­cently we opened our of­fice in Kenya and the ob­jec­tive was iden­ti­cal that if I have to suc­ceed in Kenya with the same kind of dom­i­nance we got in In­dia, I need to have a sim­i­lar pres­ence in Kenya as in In­dia.

Go­ing for­ward, how do you make sure that the far­sighted ob­jec­tive of mak­ing Tally a global power is re­al­ized?

When your bets go well you get spec­tac­u­lar suc­cess, when your bets go bad you get dire con­se­quences. For ex­am­ple, that 80 to 800 move, we spent five years to re­cover from that. There is ab­so­lutely no doubt that the end out­come is de­pen­dent on how many of the bets to achieve this out­come in a given point of time go well and how many of them go bad. One DNA that we are per­pet­u­ally try­ing to keep alive is not al­low­ing the con­se­quences of things go­ing bad to re­duce the risk tak­ing abil­ity. We have bro­ken down our ob­jec­tive of be­ing the tech­nol­ogy fab­ric and bro­ken it down say­ing that this means more than 75% of the coun­tries and more than 75% of busi­nesses in each of th­ese coun­tries are us­ing our tech­nol­ogy to run their op­er­a­tions. If that hap­pens we can say that we have achieved our ob­jec­tive.

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