Bangalore: For thousands of small and medium sized businesses in the country, Tally is a generic name for an accounting software and the eponymous company behind it has now dusted off plans for a business software product—a move that makes it the competitor of large software firms such as SAP AG and Oracle Corp.

Pitching ahead: Bharat Goenka of Tally Solutions.

That’s a pitch that will likely work with most companies that are looking at ways to cut costs as the economy slows. According to technology researcher IDC, the Indian business software market was worth $250.4 million (Rs1,295 crore today) in 2008.

Tally says its business software will help companies access information remotely either through the Internet or a mobile phone even as it seeks to minimize maintainance costs.

“Continuity is not critical for small firms, but super critical in a large enterprise. Most people spend exorbitant sums for continuity (of the business software) and maintain(ing) them," says Bharat Goenka, co-founder and managing director of Tally. “What we have achieved is that the functionality is easy and you don’t require technical help."

Many companies invest almost as much in training people to use the software and maintaining it as they do in buying it.

Tally won’t be the first Indian company with plans for the market. Several local firms such as 3i Infotech Ltd and Ramco Systems Ltd compete with SAP and Oracle in the Indian business software market.

Still, the company starts with an advantage—its name and its accounting software.

Tally training schools dot the countryside.

Chandramouli (who goes with a single name), director at Zinnov Management Consulting Pvt. Ltd, a software product advisory firm, says Tally has created a significant user base that has been trained at its academy and also a channel network that is spread across the country.

“Tally is better placed in its ability to really relate to user requirements. But (when it comes to) the probability of getting it right with the correct business strategy—any company has the equal chance of making it," he says.

It won’t be easy for the company to compete with larger business firms, says another expert. “Oracle and SAP are mature products, while Tally is known for base level financing and accounting," says Abhijeet Ranade, associate director (information technology) at audit and consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. It’ll be quite a journey for the company to make it in the business, he adds.

That’s where Goenka sees price and years spent understanding how to make software easy to use for customers playing a part. Large companies would buy Tally’s business software because of its lower price and user-friendly features, he says.

Goenka adds that the company is “cash rich". He declines to specify the quantum of Ambani’s investment in the firm. “There is no operational involvement of any (person) or organization (in Tally)," he says. The firm expects to end the fiscal year to March with revenue of around Rs150 crore.

raghu.k@livemint.com

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