Namrata Kath Hazarika | 13 Aug, 2012
an interview with SME
Nikhil Arora, Vice President and Managing Director, Intuit India said
that Indian small businesses face immense difficulty in managing
their financial accounts, to address this challenge Intuit have
developed QuickBooks Online, a business and financial management
software exclusively to help small businesses manage their
of the interview . . .
works closely with the small business community by addressing their
problems and creating end-to-end solutions that give them the
competitive edge. Could you highlight on the services you provide to
the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector?
to give you the context; Intuit Inc, is a leading provider of
business and financial management solutions for small and mid-sized
businesses; financial institutions, including banks and credit
unions; consumers and accounting professionals. In India, we are here
to help small businesses win. We have 'QuickBooks Online' which
is essentially part of our global products and which today has over
400,000 customers outside India. We have brought that product here
basically helping people to manage their finances better. And if you
are small business you can subscribe for this product on a yearly
basis. It is a cloud product, and what it does is it helps you manage
your cash flow better, do your invoicing and manage your accounts,
and also gives you dashboards. Basically from end-to-end point of
view, it is your financial management engine. It helps you to manage
your business, whether you are financially doing well or not. In
addition to this, we have a couple of other products, which are not
exclusive to small businesses. We have a product called 'Fasal',
which is a mobile-based product. We look at small businesses not only
from an urban perspective but also on a rural perspective. So, if you
are a farmer and you go to the 'mandi' where you need to sell
your produce, every time the farmer goes there, he doesn't know how
much the going rate is. We have developed an SMS based application
where in the morning when he is going to the 'mandi', he can look
at what the prevailing 'mandi' price is. For instance, 'mandi'
A is buying it at Rs. 20 and 'mandi' B is buying at Rs. 30.
Observing that, he can actually go to the right 'mandi' and also
negotiate. Today, we have a million farmers using that application on
the mobile phone. Thirdly, we have a service called 'txtWeb'.
It allows you to access the Internet even if you don't have a data
plan on your phone. For example, you are going to find out the number
of malaria patients in a particular area, you SMS that and it will go
to the Internet and download the information. Now you can get
information on your mobile phone in an SMS format. The beauty of it
is that you can keep clicking on it and almost use it as Internet.
So, if there is information that comes and you want to go deeper into
it, it will come underlined and you can press it, and it will again
go back to the Internet, and so on. So, essentially it is giving you
all the information with the absence of a data plan. Again, it is a
mobile application that we have developed, and is very
much are SMEs aware of QuickBooks Online?
Intuit everything starts with the customer, we have a process called
as 'follow-me-homes'. We have done over 5000
follow-me-homes in India. What we found is that there are no clear
solutions for businesses which want to manage their finances anywhere
they are. For example, in QuickBooks Online scenario if your customer
is in Pune or in Mumbai and if you are traveling you can log on and
access it. So, what we are finding is that there is a huge need for
solutions that there can be anywhere and anytime access. You can get
your balances, get your dashboards, and know how your business is
performing. Also, we have seen very early adoption results. We have a
couple of thousand users and there is active usage. Active usage is a
good benchmark that somebody is taking the product without even using
it. I think there are no equivalent products in my view, which do
this. You have the old desktops products, the desktops have a lot of
legacy and issues around. This (QuickBooks Online) is purely a SaaS
product and gets you access anywhere.
many SMEs are actually using this product?
have this product at the beta stage. We will have our official launch
soon. The product is in beta stage and we have a few thousand small
businesses using it. It is in the market for some time now, and our
approach is that we want to go and test the product. We will take
customers' feedback and keep further enhancing it. We are making
small businesses aware by using the viral social route. We are
spreading the message around through different small business
channels and secondly, our distributors go around and talk to small
businesses. Thirdly, we have also taken up YouTube campaigns to
ensure small businesses are aware of what the product does and how it
functions. We are using a combination of direct channels (the web)
and indirect channel like distributors or channel partners.
you highlight on the features of the SME product and how efficiently
they are using it?
biggest feature is what we call anytime-anywhere access. These
products, no matter in whichever city you are, allow you to access
your financial information. For example, if you are a business owner
and doing business in one city and want to know what your balance is,
you can access it. Suppose, I have to write a check or sign the deal
and see what is going on, I can access it. Actually, anywhere
accessibility is huge, and small business entrepreneurs can get that.
Second thing around is the data security. The data security on our
product is the same inscription that the bank uses. So, it is highly
secured. Third, it gives you a very specific kind of thing --
invoicing. Lot of our products have different features. Our products
have specific invoice features because it is one of the very simple
way to do it. Especially businesses, which need to generate twenty or
twenty-five invoices a week can use it. It gives you details on how
is your business doing, dashboard, working capital and who wants your
money and whom you need to pay the money, and so on . . . but
in a very user-friendly way. You don't need to be an accountant to
use the products which makes life easy.
much importance do you give to innovation?
is in Intuit's DNA. As an example, all employees at Intuit are
given 10 percent unstructured time this allows them to actually go
and work on any product or idea they want to. It creates an
innovation platform. They come up with their prototype and then they
have an opportunity to present to senior leadership. We have internal
gallery works and brainstorming sessions where people come up with an
idea, make the presentation and if the idea has potential, we fund
are the challenges SMEs are facing in today's time?
think as some of the white paper findings, one is the awareness of
solutions and how do you know which one is the right one. Secondly
they need trainers to train their employees in using the solutions
and last is who will use it. Third is -- how would I get the after
Our go-to-market-strategy is around three
pillars. First, we want to create awareness through case studies.
Second, giving them the right access and provide right training to
ensure they get right support during their initial days. Third,
affordability; the price is attractive enough. So, our strategy is
creating awareness, access and affordability, and this is our
We constantly do our "Follow me
Homes" where we go out to the customer, talk to them and show
how it has worked in other parts of the world as well as how it has
worked among existing customers and so on. I think it is more
psychological and there is the functional need and psychological need
which makes them understand what works for them and what doesn't. So,
I say that I spend 30 percent of our time meeting customers whether
it is current customers and potential customers.
protection and security is an issue among SMEs. You said that your
products are quite secured. Could you the highlight on awareness
among SMEs about data protection?
will speak from a business point of view, because from a technology
point of view there will be a lot of depth. From business
point of view, small businesses should be aware about who is the
vendor or supplier of technology. They need to do some due diligence,
looking at the history and track-record of how they have been in the
business. It is also important to look if something has gone wrong
then how they have reacted. In business, things go wrong but what has
been their approach to the customers, have they been honest enough to
tell them that something has gone wrong and say that they are going
to fix it. This is the first thing small businesses should look in
terms of actual data storage, I think we use the highest standard
which is the same as used by any bank. So, our data is really secure,
but I think what I will recommend SMEs to do is to adopt things in a
phased manner. So when they buy a product they start slow and try
with some data then slowly escalate to the more confidential data,
this will build trust.
is the message for the SME sector?
message is that as a technology provider we really want to be a part
of the journey of success for small businesses. We want to make them
profitable and to do that we look at it, not as one time transaction,
but at the entire journey. Small Businesses should start looking at
technology as a way to leapfrog their business cycle. It eases out
the investment level and their fears around it, because it is not as
difficult as it looks. Third is affordability and we are providing
that. Solutions are not that expensive as they perceptibly might seem
to be because in the past that was the case. We are not finding the
price as a barrier. The broad message is that we are working in
partnership with the Ministry of MSME, NSIC, etc. to help overcome
all these barriers whether they are around costs, skills development,
awareness, data storage, structure or the eco-system.
Kath Hazarika can be contacted at email@example.com)