Gandhigiri to the Software & Technology Entrepreneur – Part II

Gandhi and Customer Centricity

The progression of Economic activity as it stands in the Global Economy today has accelerated from commodities->products->services->experiences->transformations. (Pine and Gilmore)

Today we are already in the Experience Economy (Its Apple like experience, its not apple like products), but as professionals we are still grappling with how we build Products, let alone scaling the Economic activity to be staging experiences and guiding transformations!

While I am not an economist in any regard, and I do not understand the nuances of all industries and their current economic function in India (Are we building products? Are we providing services? or just plainly selling commodities?), its imperative that I comment on only Software and Services.

Before doing that, on the Gandhi Jayanti day, I would like to introspect what our Father-of-the-Nation tried to teach us, by emphasizing on making our own Salt, our own clothes with the Swadeshi Movement OR with his services at the Sabarmati Ashram. Essentially he articulated with his actions what our present day government is campaigning for “Make in India”. How did Gandhi understand the evolution of Economic activity more than a 130 years ago?

Because Gandhi was more customer centric a 100 years ago, than we are today. He empathized with every person, much better than we did. Let me quote the now cliched Gandhi’s quote on Customer Service “A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.”

Customer is more important

Empathy By Design

Come to think of it, our entire Indian Cultural ethos is based on Empathy. “Karuna” is the foundation of almost every teaching in our country. Indian institutionalization and Orientation has Empathy by Design. Then how is it, that we have failed to reciprocate to the needs of People? Why is it, that we have not built products, services, experiences that cater to the needs/wants/aspirations of people, when there is Empathy by Design in our culture?

Tough questions to answer universally or generally. However focusing on Software and Services, I think we have become too focused on Systems, Processes and Technology, rather than addressing the concerns of people. We have gotten too-carried away with Western philosophy of Professionalism, which emphasizes a lot on Systems, but empathizes little with people.

Let me give you a more concrete example. High exploratory and high mortality nature of software projects is like an Industry Standard. 9 out of 10 software initiatives don’t go anywhere, seems to be an easily accepted norm. All the cash-rich service majors in IT/ITES industry have not re-deployed their capital to building an Indian Apple today, because they seem to have accepted that Software products have a 9 in 10 chance of mortality. However what they have failed to realize, is all Lean Methods today propose Customer Development first, rather than Product Development. Build it and they will come, is almost an era of the past. Every Agile and Lean technique today is about keeping the Customer-centric view first and rapidly building tools, products, services, etc which empathize with the needs of people.

Making in INDIA

India however has a renewed emphasis on the Swadeshi movement. Its now called Making In India. Every body is now encouraged to make their products in India. However, I would like to draw your attention to Gandhi’s philosophy again, which has found a new meaning, with the Lean and Agile world. Customer Development is more important than Product Development.

Let me go a little further, the first realization all product entrepreneurs need to have is this “Customer is the Product”. Your product is just a medium/abstraction through which, you continuously develop your Customer. Stop fiddling with the Features and Benefits. They are the HOW and WHAT for your Customer. WHY the customer does anything with you and your Product, is essentially what we need to understand.

Making In India, is all about making the Customer or Consumer in India happier, healthier and wealthier each day. Do you have a plan for this? Why should you think about Making in India, is it only for Export? Well, here is why. All new ideas, new software product ideas are imperfect ideas, and need to be tested locally, and refined continually, before we can think of exporting. India today lacks any credible domestic infrastructure or support, to even make little bets, so ideas never go past their imperfect states, and hence never attain Global Standards. So, lets make and try it here first.

Mahatma Gandhi

Conclusion

We are a country blessed with Empathy by Design. We are a nation which puts Emotions ahead of Professionalism. We are a nation that believes in Darshan (of all deities). Truth is, Customer is the first GOD. So, fellow Entrepreneurs, if there is one Gandhigiri that we need to learn, it is to do a full-darshan of every customer, their needs, their wants, their aspirations. We now realize Consumer Development is as important, if not more important than Product Development. Is’nt it then, not automatic, that building a Consumer-Centric Nation, is the first step to building a Product Nation. Lets go and create this change, and let initiatives like iSPIRT and ProductNation be the inspiration through which we can channel our aspirations and ideas. Happy Gandhi Jayanthi to all!

Be the Change

Read the Part 1 here Gandhigiri to the Software and Technology Entrepreneur!

If Security is Your Question, CLOUD Is The Answer

You start your computer to check the sales ledger, and are in great tremor as it was incapable of opening anything. Some sort of advertisements related to a product kept on flashing on the screen. On further investigation you realize it has been infected by virus and the nastiest part was – the antivirus on the computer couldn’t even detect it. In the end, you had to format the entire computer to eliminate the virus. You lose all of my financial data just like that.

A lot of business have suffered through problems like these, and they often think that their home or office is the best place to store data. Businesses should be cautious when it comes to storing chief data relating to business.

Enter Cloud Accounting! Let’s see how that can help and what can cause such data loss.

1) Computers are susceptible to virus attacks. 
Your system will get affected by a virus, be it from the internet or the USB. Most viruses enter a computer through the internet. I know you’ve installed the best possible antivirus solution but virus-makers get smarter every day marketing their product. Your system is just one infected USB away from getting that virus. If not the USB, it is the Internet from where most viruses come these days. These viruses are difficult to remove and sometimes wiping the entire hard disk is the only decision.

2) Weak or no access control can jeopardize your computer.
Usually, we all have one password to unlock the computer at office. It might be shared with important coworkers. Anyone can accidently delete the vital records. And it becomes very difficult to trace if someone copies the files from your computer. There must be a strong access control for your computer, be it office or home. Weak or no access control can possibly lead to losing the important data on your computer.

3) Free/High speed Internet can be very costly.
If you possess a high speed internet at your office, there are heavy chances of your computers getting infected with malwares. Employees casually use the office internet and often don’t give a thought about the security. Therefore, office computers must be secured by an effective firewall which will prevent malicious sites from attacking your system.

4) No management for Backups. 
Backups are a boon in today’s time. Only thing which can save you after a heavy data loss. Even when people know that their systems can get infected anytime, they do not have discipline regarding data backups. Post backup, the data needs to be protected and organized in such a way that it is very easy to reestablish when wanted.

5) Unpredicted occurrences can cause chaos.
You have no idea how & when fate is going to intervene in your life. Just imagine you went in a coffee shop and forgot your laptop. When you went back, the laptop was stolen. These unpredicted events like fire and theft can occur anytime and may cause heavy penalty. In situations like these, there might be no chance of protecting your data.

This Wikipedia article shows how businesses lose billions of dollars every year due to computer viruses alone.

Why Cloud accounting is more protected
Cloud accounting service providers store their data on way more sophisticated infrastructure, which is commanding and protected compared to office computers.
1. Cloud servers are sheltered by strong antivirus tools and are checked 24×7 by a devoted team of professionals.
2. Cloud data facilities employ state-of-the art electronic investigation and multi-factor access control systems. Data facilities are operated with trained security guards 24×7 and access is limited.
3. Firewall systems protect the data from online invaders. All Cloud accounting software providers use secure HTTPS connection with robust encryption levels.
4. The backup process is very precise and historic data can be restored within a few minutes, if required.
5. Systems are designed to dampen the impact of disturbances to operations. Multiple geographic regions and availability zones allow you to remain sturdy in the face of most failure methods, including natural disasters or system failures.

Such Cloud infrastructure has regularly experienced third-party certifications and evaluations. For example, leading service provider Amazon AWS has attained ISO 27001 certification and has been authenticated as a Level 1 service provider under the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS). It experiences annual SOC 1 audits and has been successfully assessed at the Moderate level of Federal Government systems, as well as DIACAP Level 2 for DoD systems.

Every certification means that the auditor has dyed-in-the-wool that specific security controls are in place and operating as envisioned.

More businesses are adapting to Cloud accounting software like ProfitBooks or Xero, which are not only extra secure but affordable as well. Businesses don’t need to invest their time and money to ensure data security. This is the thing which attracts more customers towards cloud computing.

Financial data honesty and security are upper significances for any business and Cloud accounting software tools offer an impeccable solution. What more does a business need?

Guest blog post by Harshal Katre, ProfitBooks 

8 Reasons to switch to a Document Management System

Document management was essentially born out of the need to manage ever growing amounts of information being created within organizations and enterprises. As the business grows, it becomes increasingly complicated to gain access to accurate and relevant information from the bundles and stocks of paper documents and files and as a result precious paid working hours of the management is wasted. 

Research says that an employee spends nearly 40% of their time looking for information locked in e-mails, documents and filing cabinets. Managers spend an average of 4 weeks a year searching for or waiting on documents that have been misfiled, mislabeled or just plain lost. The average cost of handling one document over its life cycle is between Rs. 200-500, and upto Rs. 2000 if it’s misplaced and Rs. 5000 if it gets lost! No enterprise would want to incur such a loss on a single document. Additionally, it costs money & time to file, print, store, handle the documents.

The answer to all these issues is a Document management system (DMS). A DMS can saves time, money and space without affecting your business. As DMS is trendy, it gives a tech-savvy touch to the enterprise.

How will it help your enterprise?

1.     Make better utilization of money spent on office rental

Paper based documents storage competes with employees for floor space within an enterprise.

DMS reduces the amount of prime storage space required for files. Having real estate prices touching the skies, an enterprise would not want to waste spend space for paper documents and files. It should rather with the help of DMS, use that space for employees who will add to the productivity of the enterprise.

2.     Easy retrieval

For most enterprises, tracking down files is a hassle. It all adds up to about 2 hours/year for each corporate client and about 15 minutes/ year for personal clients. By going paperless with DMS, enterprise can track down files within seconds, not minutes and hours. 

Compared to the traditional file storage methods, DMS users can access information from the in less time. They don’t spent time locating the documents and can retrieve them without leaving the desk.

3.     Easy document distribution

Sharing documents electronically with colleagues and clients over a network or by e-mail becomes easy. On the other hand paper documents would need photo copied to be shared.

Everyone owns a smartphone these days, so sharing documents within or outside the enterprise, while traveling or sitting in any corner of the world is possible with just a click. With DMS, your smartphone will become smarter.

4.     Security

DMS will protect your documents and folders from being accessed by intruders. A DMS also removes the possibility of having confidential material or trade secrets lying around unattended in an office.

5.     Disaster recovery

DMS provides an easy way to back-up documents, working in conjunction with your other backup systems to safeguard your work. From natural to man-made disasters there is no way that paper documents can be saved. A DMS allows the back-up of documents in form of data at multiple location and hence is the only convenient solution to secure critical documents.

6.     Improved cash flows

The most important documents of any enterprise are its invoices, bills, debt collection, etc. With proper records of all documents related to finance of the enterprise, it ensures that the flow of cash can be controlled centrally and all documentation required making cash flow decisions can be accessed immediately. With this there will be no loop holes in the accounts and more transparency in the enterprise. 

7.     Improved customer service and satisfaction

With DMS, the enterprise will waste no time on finding files. It will lead to quick reaction times, a more expert reaction; a more faultless reaction to the problem and quarries of the clients and customer. By this the employees will be able to concentrate more on the core activities of the business, thus leading to more customer satisfaction.

8.     Competitive edge

The same data that was a while ago put away as paper can now be dispersed to clients and target people electronically.  With growing competition, the fight for survival in the market has become very tough. DMS adds a competitive edge as it improves the working of the enterprise by reducing time wasted on less important work and focusing on the core business activities.

Looking at these benefits of the Document Management System, it can be surely be said that DMS is the need of the hour which has to be adapted by enterprises for their smooth working. This will result in reduced costs of the enterprise and increased productivity and profitability.

If you decide to start looking for a DMS, following are few selection tips I could tell from my experience. 

How to make the right choice while looking for DMS?

  • Look for companies that have some years of business under their belt and that they are in a proper track with a growth plan. It shouldn’t be a case where they close up a year after you purchased.
  • Always look for those DMS which offer 24 – hours support and have troubleshooting resources available online.
  • Price shouldn’t be a major concern for you. You should rather focus on whether the software you are purchasing meets your document storage needs or not.  On the other hand, if the software adapts to structural changes of your company, you should go for it, no matter what it costs. The initial investment will pay off exponentially in the long run.

With inputs from Sarthak Malani, SoftwareSuggest

7 Must-Have Features of the right Point of Sale (POS) software for your Retail business

Point of Sale software is being used in millions of retail and hospitality businesses who have thousands of different POS software to choose from. A right POS software will give the business a new level of control over operations; increasing efficiency, boosting profits, and will help it fine-tune its business model. The wrong system, however, can be a waste of money, time and a source of frustration.

The mistake retailers often make is to buy software that is not intended for their industry and this confusion mainly arises from the wide range of features available in thousands of software in the market. For example, a gift shop has much different needs than a car dealer and a liquor store doesn’t need the same software as a clothing store. So the same POS software will not be compatible to all of them. The differences in features and intended uses of a POS can have a huge impact on your business.

Organisations need to narrow their search to the specific industry and it will be well on its way to money well spent and a POS software system that makes your life easier and business more profitable.

Here are 7 common features to look into while buying a POS for any Small, Medium or Large Retail Business:

Features

  • Fast checkout: A retail POS software should be able to simplify the checkout process. This means that it should not take the sales team’s much manual effort to complete a transaction. If there is still a manual process that the team has to go through, then the POS software needs a replacement.
  • Inventory tracking: A  POS should make the inventory management process effortless. One should be able to monitor all the critical information about the store from individual transactions to purchases. This will make the ordering from vendors easy & the inventory manager would not waste time calculating the re-order level.
  • Customer Data: A good POS can help convert the data on customer’s profile into information. As a use case, it will let the purchase team know what products the customers buy more frequently and thus the team can place orders accordingly. The data can also help the customer relation team build an effective loyalty program, which can increase sales in the long term.
  • Automated Purchasing Program: A good POS allows the business to have a streamlined process of connecting with suppliers. For example, if the retail outlet is running low on a critical product, with the help an Automated Purchasing Program, the POS can easily get connected with the suppliers in no time and place the order for the required quantity required quantity
  • Capabilities for multiple location / Mobility: A good POS should also offer online access which helps you stay connected with the business from anywhere remotely.  It is a convenient feature for franchises and business having more than one location.
  • Payment Card Industry (PCI) Agreement: It is one of the most important features which can help the business build trust with its customers as it will protects customers’ credit card details. An organization may face legal issues if the POS does not have this feature.
  • Reporting tools: Every Retail POS should have a reporting feature which is user friendly. It should store information such as product styles or models, weekly sales, monthly sales, annual sales and hourly transactions.

These 7 features are essential for any POS software and ensuring the above feature will increase effectiveness and efficiency of any Retail or Super-Market.

Here are some softwares that you find useful:

 

To find POS with these features you can visit our the Point of Sale page on SotfwareSuggest.com

With Inputs from Sarthak Malani, at SoftwareSuggest.com 

Benefits of CRM Software – A 360° Evaluation

Do you own a business and face the problem of customer communication? Are you unaware of your customers’ needs? Are your customer’s unhappy with your services? Are you unable to analyze the progress of your business? Then, to all such problems there is one and only one solution – the CRM Software.

In any business two things are very critical: customers and employees. The growth of any business depends majorly on the relationship between the customers and the vendors. When both are satisfied then we have a “win-win” situation as happier customers are more loyal and spend often. To achieve this goal the business should meet its customers’ expectations and deliver them the best services in every odd. Hence, to address the problems of dealing with customers in day-to-day basis the concept of CRM was introduced which is gaining popularity from past few years.

Customer Relationship Management abbreviated as CRM is not just a software or an application of technology rather it’s a unique approach to deeply know the customers’ needs and nature in order to effectively and efficiently develop  a stronger relationship with them.

CRM: Business Point Of View

Benefits of CRM Software

  1. Right Selection

The CRM application is a supreme tool that helps to easily manage the business of any type – big or small, anywhere- home or office ,anytime- day or night and hence, it boosts the customer services. The increase in the sales efficiency can be seen after implementing the right CRM. Even, a CRM can enhance the productivity by 30%, if used correctly.  The selection of a right CRM for your business matters a lot to manage your business. Now-a-days, there are lots of CRM options available in the market.

Thus, as a businessman your first step is to figure out which option will help you build a strong relationship base with your customers and gain you profit.

Points to consider when evaluating a CRM are:
– Ease of implementation
– What features are available out of the box
– What level of customization is required to meet my business requirements
– Cost Professional Services
– Ease of integrating with other back office systems
– what level of integration is available “out of the box” to my telephony system.

  1. Your Progress

The report system empowers you to analyze the progress of your business as well as your team.

  1. Know your Financial Status

Certain CRM packages, offer its users to track their cost of sales and other operating costs to calculate the net profit. Such feature is implemented via finance software in the systems and plays a vital role in tracking the development of small business.

CRM: Sales Agent Point Of View

Advantages of CRM Software

There are many ways in which CRM helps you to nurture the customer relationships with the sales agents and some of them are discussed below:

  1. Organize your Business on tips

It is said that to achieve success easily you should have required resources. The same thing applies in the case of business too. The sale teams of any business – big or small can manage easily their business if they have the right tools to do the job.

The services offered by the CRM makes the task simple and effortless for the salesman or its team to efficiently organize their job of managing multiple clients or meeting big quotas.

Even you can track your own contacts, deals and leads using this technology and can share the info with your team members that helps to manage the customer’ needs even if their contact is not available on regular basis.

  1. Alert System

This functionality of a CRM software follow-up the salesperson with the data set for alert and helps you to do various important tasks on time like to timely meet the milestones, trigger a new activity, prepare presentations, go through a communication with a customer and many more.

Setting alerts makes you attentive, proactive and impresses your multiple customers with your punctual working style.

  1. Track the Important

CRM is a centralized system which helps you to manage your customer relationships by securely accessing as well as sharing your important information, correspondence, conversations, billing info or documents anywhere, anytime through your CRM based cloud benefits.

You can even have a look over the historical records of the customers which help you to deal with any specific customer more professionally.

  1. Get Social

Most enterprise CRM systems help the agents to be in touch with their customers via social media. Moreover, with CRM, agents can work together through chat or video conferences. CRM software offer agents a space to create and store templates for call scripts that have restricted accessibility to other employees.

Even, the service agents can go live with their customers through their website and mobile apps.

  1. Check where you stand

The reports attached with your CRM tool helps you to continuously measure your customer service performance as well as the customer activities so that you can easily figure out the needs of your clients and act accordingly to fulfill them.

CRM: Enhances Customer Services

Importance of CRM Software

After knowing deeply the benefits of CRM for different sectors let’s have a look on the ways in which CRM can help in improving Customer services.

  1. Social media

Generally, social media is used to mainly watch the activities of the customers which help to better learn about the customer choice. Encouraging the clients to link their lead generation and social media enables the clients conveniently log-in. For example, instead of submitting their name, phone, email address, etc. on a form on your web site, let the users just sign in with LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Facebook and others.

  1. Automated Customer Service

On adding a new customer to the CRM, automatically registering them in a Support System, sending them a “welcome to support” Email (with instructions on how to use it), adding them to the e-news mailing list, and notifying customer services to contact them after a specified period to see how they are getting on improves the customer services to a greater extent.

  1. Easy Adoption to system

To make the customers efficiently use the CRM system new gamification processes can be included in a customized CRM.

  1. Customer engagement

Customers always have a tendency to compare what they are getting is best or not it could be in terms of Price, Quality, Service and even the way there are being treated . So any function or process which can envisage the customers that they are getting the best deal or treatment from the market at optimal or lowest cost, and then nurturing that same relationship for highest profit or yield for as long as possible would make a difference to any Business.

  1. Customer Self-Service Approach

Usually, CRM systems offer portals that manage knowledge for the customer self-service. These portals allow the customers to access FAQ or troubleshooting articles without assistance of any agent.

On the other hand, some CRM solutions also offer a company to establish their own online communities for their customers which is an easy way to reach for queries and feedback.

Thus, Customer Relationship Management is an efficient way to get a clearer picture of your current business and helps you to plan your future strategies to satisfy your customers.

So, what are you waiting for? Start expanding your business today with the suitable CRM technology and share your experiences with us via comments.

Browse a list of CRM Software at SoftwareSuggest.com

Looking for full-time Program Manager for Software Adoption Initiative(SAI)

Program Manager for Software Adoption Initiative(SAI), is a full-time position (preferred location: Bangalore, India) with iSPIRT, would drive full-scale and focused implementation of the Action Plan 2014 that is drawn up by iSPIRT Founder’s Circle.

The focus of SAI for the year 2014-15 would be to work with software product companies across multiple domains, software product buyers in India and iSPIRT partners and help materialize a lot of engagement between the software buyers and sellers in India. The role involves interactions with key stakeholders (product company execs, marketing agencies, iSPIRT team members, iSPIRT partners), program/project management, document preparation (example creating software adoption guides for various industries), conducting events and managing outbound tele-engagement team.

We are looking for someone who holds an MBA, has flair for communication and interactions with senior executives and has a cross-functional experience with any product companies in Sales/BD program management roles.

The position is very entrepreneurial in nature, where the individual’s drive and passion determine the results while guidance and participation from the core SAI team members would always be available. As a program manager, one would gain great insight into what drives software adoption in India and what opportunities exists for software product companies.

Profiles could be sent to me at avinash(at)ispirt.in. We request Product Nation members to refer anyone who could be interested in the position. Suggestions welcome.

Stories of small business owners who are paying for software in India

I used to come across a lot of people in India saying SME’s adopting software will always be DIM (Do-it-for-me) but then I thought hard about existing software users in India. Why would they use software day-in & day-out when they are not tech-savvy.

That itch got me to work with my friend Tejaswi Raghurama to dig into stories of small business owners who are paying for software in India and are using it themselves.

Some of their stories are truly inspirational and shed light on how you, the average Indian, who runs a business (and I am one of the tribe, too!) must go ahead and take the plunge to try a software for yourself. You will be surprised at how little help you’ll need from others.

Software for India Part 1 from ProductNation on Vimeo.

Let me explain what I mean with an example. I am a non-tech guy (I can’t code!) in a technology company. Whenever I wanted to run experiments on our website, I was heavily dependent on these 2 people (Kailash Shivku ) and I was sick of it! So, one fine day, I mustered up courage to try “Visual Website Optimizer ” to do some A/B testing. After spending the whole day interacting with their support team via email, I successfully pulled off a split testing on the website.

Till then, I felt like an over dependent bugger who couldn’t do anything to save his own life. There was a smile on my face walking home that evening. I felt free, I felt liberated and I today, a lot of technology & software drives my thinking and working style.

If I, a business owner who doesn’t have any knowledge of technology, am able to use it effectively to make independent business decisions, I have no doubt that every single business owner can. Make technology your best friend. It makes you independent, saves you time and helps you stay smart.

And guess what – team members, and employees should not be threatened by adoption of new technology – listen to what some of these folks had to say about using software to get work done everyday.

Share these stories with your friends and colleagues and get them to try a new software today, they won’t repent it, we promise!

Software for India Part 2 from ProductNation on Vimeo.

*A special thanks to Tejaswi for making the video, and @Practo @Nowfloats who’s teams helped us talk to their customers.

We didn’t start the fire, it was always burning!

In India retailing of jewellery is undertaken in various small and large jewellery shops. Whether the retailer is a large shop in metropolitan areas or a smaller rural shop, the adoption of Software and IT both for back office operations or for business growth, is almost negligible. Why has the change not occurred?

On September 22nd 2013 at Royal Orchid Central, Bangalore, some of the most inspired minds from the Jewellery Industry and the Software and Technology industry had the opportunity to go on a journey of inquest. Are there gaps in the Jeweller’s perceptions about the benefit of Software and Technology? Do Jewellers have the right external eco-system to enable them to overcome the barriers to adoption? Are Jewellers happy with whatever Software and Technology they have used and adopted so far? Is there fire in the belly of every jewellery business owner, to objectively seek answers to these questions, or do we have to ignite a new spark?

More than three hours of engaging, entertaining and educational experience. A 100+ jewellery retail business owners got the opportunity to interact and seek answers to many of the questions from industry leaders Shoaib Ahmed, President of Tally Solutions and full-time fellow of iSPIRT (Indian Software Product Industry Round Table) and Mr. Ramesh Davanam, Secretary, Jewellers’ Association of Bangalore. Not all elements of the seminar can be reproduced here, but below are some of the key highlights and learnings.

Making of the Event – The key ingredients

We at SchemesCentral set out to answer many of the adoption related questions about 10 months ago, so that as providers of Software Platforms and Information Systems to the Jewellery community, we empathize with the jewellery retailers, understand their real pains and provide solutions that best address them.

What is required for the transformation of the Retail Jewellery Industry? As owners of family businesses, do retail jewellers realize that change is inevitable? If yes, then what are the real barriers to adoption? What can catalyze the endogenous change within business owners as individuals? These were some of our fundamental questions.

Almost in parallel, nearly around the same time last year, iSPIRT, through its SAI (Software Adoption Initiative) has gone through a similar journey and had put in place a transformative guide that enables all jewellers (whether retail, wholesale or refiners) to become informed buyers of Software and Technology. Sometimes, an entire industry, as a complex collective, can get into a state of equilibrium/inertia, and will need an external shock, to enable radical transformation. Such an external shock is enabled by new policies, new structures and new leaders. In our casual conversation with Mr. Shoaib Ahmed, what occurred to SchemesCentral was that, iSpirt was clearly addressing the exogenous change. What are the factors that can enable the exogenous change in the entire ecosystem, as a collective?

When we marry the two, what is the outcome? A framework that encompasses

  • Focused Solutions for changes that are needed from within, as individuals & business owners and
  • Broad Solutions for negotiating the external factors that influence the whole ecosystem.

It was this dichotamous synergy that gave SchemesCentral the confidence to organize the first seminar in close collaboration with 2 industry associations. The Jewellers Association of Bangalore (JAB) and Indian Software Product Industry Roundtable (iSPIRT).

The idea for the Seminar was concieved less than 3 weeks ago and Mr. Ramesh Davanam, Secretary of JAB, was the first one to give his complete vote of confidence. It was whole-heartedly seconded by the President of JAB, Mr. G.V. Sreedhar, and very ably supported by the members of the association. Within the next week, we had the theme for the Seminar in place, “Enabling Retail Jewellery Businesses to grow exponentially”.

After having invited more than a 100 jewellers, reserving the venue, and working through more than 3 hours of engaging content for the session, we were anxiously hoping that we hit the right chords. Then another magic happened, Mr. Shoaib Ahmed volunteered and gracefully accepted to be part of the Seminar too. And with his natural charm and flair he was also clearly the man-of-the-match on the Seminar day.

Event Unfolded

22nd September 2013 in Bangalore witnessed the beginnng of a new journey. As the session commenced and the clock began to tick, more than a 100 guests and delegates, crowded the pinewood hall. With a full-house, the audience were treated in the 1st session to a new way of thinking, to first as individuals, transform themselves. The intention of the session was to motivate them and nudge them, into accepting certain realities like,

  • The reach and power of the internet,
  • The benefits of engaging with the connected consumer and
  • The implications of being in an Ecosystem of Technology partners.

By the start of the 2nd session, most retail jewellers started to open-up and wanted very specific focused answers to all their software and technology challenges, trust being the most important of them all. It was at this moment, a couple of testimonials from iSpirt and an inspired talk by Mr. Shoaib Ahmed, encouraged them to further explore answers to most of their problems.

In the final session the SchemesCentral.com platform as an idea in-itself, gave the delegates very specific focused answers on their challenges for maintaining and tracking payments for Jewellery Savings Schemes, it was only but natural for them to understand that there is now a community of software developers and partners, just within their reach, in their own neighbourhood, who are willing to help them in their quest for business growth.

Conclusion and Takeaways!

If we tell our customers about our solutions they might forget, if we show them they might remember, if we involve them, they will understand. So start your seminars or workshops today. The Key-takeaways from the Seminar on 22nd September are,

  • If you have a revolutionary software product or platform, seek avenues and opportunities and reach out to established institutions to collaborate and grow.
  • There is fire in the belly of every business owner to grow his business and break new boundaries, jewellery retailers are no exception.
  • We in the software community have to find both endogenous and exogenous ways to nudge them and motivate them, so that we can catalyze the spark within them to become a wild-fire for software and technology adoption.