Accounting major Tally is enabling SMEs to access data remotely and securely
Thirty-four-years-ago, Bharat Goenka co-foundedin Bengaluru. Coming from a family that was into textile trading in Kolkata, his love for technology made him experiment and build an accounting software that could help traders move away from traditional bookkeeping.
Little did anyone know that in less than 15 years, the software would become synonymous with accounting. Today, Tally Solutions is known to be India’s largest company in the accounting software realm.
The accounting software major said it aims to help small businesses access critical data anywhere, anytime, with remote access technology, and wants to focus on improving the experience of the software by building a multi-device access. It said it is also investing in the cloud, and will be making a slew of announcements soon.
At its peak, in 2018, Tally was a Rs 781 crore company, giving the likes of San Jose-based Intuit a run for its money. Today, it has two million SMEs paying for its accounting software, and nearly five million SMEs have used the product in the last three decades.
Serving the SME network
Thirty-year-old Tejas Goenka, who is now the managing director of the company, graduated from UPenn, Philadelphia, in 2011. Between 2009 and 2010, he dabbled in the family business during summer vacations, and joined Tally immediately after college.
Tejas started with Tally Education, which is a separate entity, and then quickly moved to sales. “I had to fix the sales, and we needed to rejig the network. We had to get higher margins and also offer better support to clients. We started certifying our partners to stay with us long term,” says Tejas.
However, he realised that he had to compete with India’s SaaS poster boys - deployed the software across the country.and , who believed in cloud technology. But Tejas realised that Tally had an edge as it had a bigger network in India, with 25,000 partners who had
The primary reason why these big giants had not captured Indian SMEs was because Tally is an accounting software, whereas Zoho and Freshworks offer CRM software. For SMEs in the manufacturing and retail industry, accounting and inventory management is more important than CRM.
Secondly, apart from a partner ecosystem, Tally has thousands of training centres that promote Tally to SME entrepreneurs. The 25,000 strong partner network assists and serves SMEs, while other companies are focussed on digital sales.
“You have to remember that selling in India is a different animal. People still want to see the person who sells the software to them,” says Tejas.
It is also highly expensive for any other brand to capture the market because Tally has grown its training, certification, and assist network for three decades.
Thirdly, just like a Silicon Valley startup which creates a community of engineers, Tally has nearly a thousand engineers working on the Tally Definition Language. They are customising apps on top of the Tally software, and are working on the Tally app store.
Battling piracy and building an ecosystem
Since its inception, Tally has been battling one big issue – piracy. And for this, the company set up a strong partner ecosystem, which is certified to deliver the product and services to the SME network.
“It is our job to educate SMEs to buy the original Tally. I know piracy has been an issue, and we are educating our potential customers on why they have to sign up with the original product,” says Tejas.
“We have been around for 34 years now. Accounting is equal to Tally. Its popularity spread very rapidly, but most of it was unpaid for in the early years. The biggest milestone in the second decade was building a partner ecosystem. Now, we are riding on the bank network to help SMEs. Our software covers accounting, inventory, and compliance. In the last four years, GST was the highlight as it is a very important feature of SMEs,” says Tejas.
Remote access and cloud
With more and more people on the move, Tally introduced remote access. Traditionally a desktop offering, the company wants to bring the Tally experience to web browsers.
The company aims to assist businesses access critical data anywhere through any device, securely and privately, while keeping the data on the customer’s machines itself. The remote access allows a single computer to connect with the device where the software is downloaded.
This is also very collaborative as every person in a team can access data through a private network provided by the organisation.
While cloud allows multi-device collaboration, here the software cannot be accessed on multiple devices. But Tally is already working on access on multiple devices.
"The benefit the Cloud brings to businesses at the core is around anytime anywhere access to data and perception of reduced infrastructure management. But the cost of this is to give up control of your financial data. We believe this compromise is not something that our customers should make and we are therefore innovating on database technologies, communication, and networking technologies to deliver this experience," says Tejas.
He says, Tally is investing in cloud technology and is currently focussed on what Indian businesses want through remote access technology. He believes that delivering a cloud-based solution for Indian SMEs may need a new strategy because SMEs don’t want the pay-as-you-go model. SMEs want data available with them all the time and not stored in the cloud. Tejas reveals that the cloud strategy from Tally will be different from what other SaaS solutions offer. He does not want to go into the details as yet and says he will reveal the cloud strategy soon.
“We will focus on anytime, anywhere access. We can deliver the product on a browser or an app. We will focus on improving the experience of the software and begin experimenting with the cloud. There will be no manual entries and it can be a seamless automated process on our network,” he says.
“This is the journey we have embarked upon. It is a technology challenge that we will solve soon, and we are coming up with several new releases of the product,” Tejas adds. Tally is now planning to expand its footprint globally with its remote access model.
The business and future
Fourteen years ago, the company was just an 80-member team. Today, there are over 800 employees, including 400 engineers.
Tally’s current revenue is close to Rs 600 crore, and as per ROC details accessed by YourStory, the company has been profitable for the five-year period. The drop in revenues is because of implementation of GST in 2018-2019 and Tally had to ready their software to roll out a GST program.
Tally is now getting into a platform play. It wants to easily connect all channels such as marketplaces, banks, tax systems, customers, ecommerce, and suppliers.
Apart from customising the accounting software, it is using technology to replace manual entries. It is also planning to open its network of two million SMEs to entrepreneurs who want to connect for business.
“What Tally is working on is whether it can help entrepreneurs send invoices with just a swipe, which can automatically update in their books. This makes life easier for them as they just have to verify and approve the transaction,” says Tejas.
According to Gartner, the SaaS business is a $152 billion industry. But Tally is planning to expand globally. It will continue to use remote access technology to expand to global markets like Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
Tejas believes this can make India digitise faster. Tally is now targeting Rs 1,000 crore in revenue in the next five years.
Edited by Megha Reddy