Unleashing SME Power



Meet Ganesh Iyer–a young entrepreneurial lad in the bustling megapolis of
Mumbai who has set up a one-man outfit that creates websites for small firms
that want to experience e-commerce but don’t have the wherewithal to engage a
formal software company, or an interactive agency to build their Web presence.
Ganesh Iyer, in the true spirit of home delivery, does all this and more for his
growing tribe of clients and makes a decent living while dreaming the Bill Gates
dream!

"In
the face of uncertainties, the time has come to reassess the status
and future direction of
the SW industry"

Ganesh
Natarajan

Meet Vishwas Mahajan–a successful entrepreneur who came back from the gulf
to join his partner Uday in a startup that dared to tread the path less traveled–the
product path. Today, the duo has completed many successful installations of
their web based project management product in global firms in India and abroad
and have notched up revenues and profitability that puts a smile on their faces.

And Meet Manu Parpia–professional-turned-entrepreneur who runs one of India’s
niche success stories–Geometric Software. It has caught the fancy of major
engineering consulting firms as well as stock market analysts with a capability
set that is unique and robust at the same time.

What is common to these three entrepreneurs and their companies–they are
all highly motivated participants in the Indian software dream and all fit into
the category of SMEs (Rs 0-100 crore) that Nasscom has decided to work closely
with in the coming months. The Nasscom SME forum’s launch in Pune saw 60 such
firms coming together–some to complain, some to discover and some to partner,
but all to join hands in a dream that may paint a bright new picture for the
Indian software sector in the quest of a global superpower destiny.

The power of the SME is not a new idea–in fact, in many countries in
continental Europe, small and focussed solution providers are much in demand for
the depth and quality of their services and if the Indian industry is to achieve
the $50-billion export dream, a god percentage of this will have to be SME-contributed
and enabled.

The action agenda identified by the SME forum, which ranges
from disseminating focused industry research and market intelligence to best
practices sharing in quality and human resource management to creation of
funding options and forums for market and technology access, aims to dispel the
distrust many small companies have in their larger brethren as well as in
industry associations which are often perceived to be "by the big, of the
big, for the big".

The road ahead is not without its share of challenges. Some
of the issues that came up at the forum were the protection of intellectual
property, created with much blood, sweat and tears by the SME which can be
replicated by a team set up by a big firm, the difficulties involved in getting
reasonable pricing from governments and even private sector companies and the
lack of professionalism sometimes displayed by larger firms in using the
services of smaller firms and paying for them in time. And of course the major
problem of market access. With one ambitious but wrongly placed or wrongly timed
sales office abroad having the tendency to suck out a year’s profits in a few
weeks, there is no avoiding the fact that it is only wise counsel and partnering
in a truly symbiotic relationship that can make the mission successful in the
months to come.

The SME spirit that is being unleashed by Nasscom through
three such forums–in West, North and South India has the laudable objective of
changing the growth path of a thousand small firms and getting them entrenched
in the global IT firmament. With Nasscom continuing to do yeoman work in opening
new markets, dealing with Governments abroad and helping companies, big, medium
and small to find new lands to conquer and the Confederation of Indian Industry
doing its bit to encourage domestic proliferation and improve the infrastructure
in the states, the sun is in no danger of setting on the Indian software
industry!

Ganesh Natarajan
The author is the CEO of Zensar Technologies

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