• Peter Yorke

    Entering the Product Space – Shoaib Ahmed, Tally Solutions(Part 2 of 3)

    You can read the Part 1 of the 3 series interview here.

    Shoaib Ahmed, President of Tally Solutions, began his career as a retail
    software developer in the early 90s. Formerly the Founder-Director of Vedha
    Automations Pvt.Ltd, Mr. Ahmed was responsible for developing Shoper, a
    market-leading retail business solution — and the first of its kind in India to
    bring in barcoding to the retail space. The company was acquired by Tally
    Solutions in 2005, where Shoper merged with the Tally platform to offer a
    complete enterprise retail software suite. In the second of a three-part series,
    Mr. Ahmed talks about product development in the B2B space and reaching out
    to customers.

    Why do you think we are seeing businesses that start off as a product
    company become service entities?

    This is where I see the need for educating customers: why should you buy our product,
    what can you expect from our product and what shouldn’t you expect from our product?
    More importantly, will the product solve your key issue and will it do it well? Unfortunately,
    who is educating the customer about these aspects? It may be a service provider who is
    interested in the service revenue only. So there’s a disconnect — there’s nobody who is
    evangelizing the product and being a product champion in the small and medium business
    space.

    What do you feel about having ‘pilot’ customers who can obtain the
    product with an attractive offer like a reduced price?

    I don’t think this is the right way of doing things. When you’re reaching out to customers,
    it’s important to solve some of their key issues. To do this, you need information about a
    particular profile of customers so very clear about who your customer is and what your
    customer looks like to you. Now, if you want to get a large enough slice of the market
    make sure you have experience with a complete set of customers — you cannot pilot
    a semi-experience. You need to be able to engage with him and get your value from
    him over the proposition you are making. This means measuring not only the product’s
    effectiveness, but also measuring the quality of the sales pitch and that the service
    capability and the service quality promise is being fulfilled.

    You may decide in the first six months to choose a smaller customer set to target but
    you’ll be measuring to see if all elements of your complete product experience are being
    monitored for effectiveness or reviewed. This gives you an idea of scalability, since you
    can then adopt an attractive pricing strategy with confidence. It can be an incremental
    process, but unlike a pilot, you’re not only reaching out to a few customers and shaping
    your product around them. With a pilot, the danger could be that the pilot customers are
    early adopters who will view evangelizing you product amongst their peers as letting go of
    a competitive advantage.

    Do you think it’s a myth that it’s easier to develop B2C products rather
    than B2B?

    I think the success of Tally disproves this. Out of a potential 80 lakh businesses, nearly
    40-45 lakh own computers. A large group use Tally for their business — nearly 90%
    of the market. So, the constant need for us to deliver a value is critical and it’s also
    important to keep communicating this value. If I as a business owner don’t see a value
    in paying you for a product or service then I don’t, but increasingly in the connected
    world a businessman understands that he can grow his business manifold by leveraging
    technology. The information system now has to support him because he is in a connected
    world so the game is changing.

    In the B2C area, let’s look at the average individual : he has a higher disposal income and
    is more exposed to technology. A lot of his day-to-day activities are done using technology
    (like banking and filing returns). When he’s engaging with the rest of the world, he’s going
    to expect a similar experience. This may act as a driving force for businesses to match
    that : for example, can an individual get his doctor’s appointment online? If there is no
    supporting eco-system for the the tool that the customer has, then even the greatest
    online tool available to this customer can’t drive enough value. In my mind its critical that
    business-to-business product development is on the system and the efficiencies have a
    direct economic impact. For example, the average time for payment reconciliation in the
    small business space is an average eight days. From a digital perspective, it should be
    instantaneous. Just imagine the impact and velocity of commerce!

    Interview Cont’d

    Want Software Product Success? Narrow the gap between the User and Technology!
    The weight of expectation

    Tags: , , ,

    Sep, 30
    2012
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