Niqotin–A Cloud based ERP solution for Indian Rural market

Chennai based Niqotin is a cloud based ERP solutiuon targeted towards rural market – right from ERP solutions to SCM/CRM, HRM etc. The products target various verticals like manufacturing, services, real estate, education, publishing, software & hardware, FMCG etc and can be integrated with existing systems in any Indian languages.

What’s so specific about rural India that you need a custom set of tools? Well, we ask Surjith, who is part of the founding team @Niqotin to share their insights/observations with respect to the rural Indian market.

1. What are the unique attributes of rural market that you are targeting (vis-a-vis other such horizontal products in the market).

When it comes to the Rural there is no dearth of talent or resources. In the era of Globalization when everything is commercialized like Education to Enterprise, Farm to Fashion, Human Care to Healthcare, People to Politics, Democracy to Governance we need to push our bar little higher to survive or improve our efficiency.niqotin

India has 50 M MSME’s (95% of these are Micro Enterprises) and employs over 70 M people. They contribute nearly 8% to GDP and 45% to industrial production.  Nearly 45% of them are operated from rural areas.

According to IDC report Indian ERP market is $ 900 Million in 2012, CRM market is approximately $ 321 Million. According to Zinnov Consulting Indian Cloud Computing market will reach $ 1 Billion in 2015 which includes SAAS market around $ 650 Million and growing at a double digit speed. These are just estimates or statistics in this huge Under-Served market.

The main barriers to technology adoption in MSMEs (whether Rural or urban) are Lack of Suitable products, Lack of Affordable solutions, Lack of Knowledge, Lack of Skilled professionals and the High Cost of Maintenance.

The market is catered by players like ERP Next, Wings ERP, A2Z Apps, Tally ERP, Eastern Software, Ramco, CDC Software, Local Service Providers and foreign players like Zoho, Sage, Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, Infor, NetSuite etc., which mainly target the top-of-the pyramid market.

The major reason why Micro and Small businesses in non-metros or non-urban areas who are not ready to adopt any technology is the non-availability of Right product at the Right price and the Knowledge Awareness in finding or choosing them.

2. How do you go about distribution of such products? Who is the end user? Who is the customer?

We are planning to sell Rural ERP through our dedicated sales force targeting the B2B market as well as Resellers like software and hardware vendors.  Rural ERP will be available as a SaaS offering with 4 Editions named Micro (INR 9000), Small (INR 19000), Medium (INR 29000) and Enterprise (INR 39000). Apart from this there will be chargeable Add-on features planned for other services. And there is Membership based Rural Business Centers (virtual and physical) across places in our branches for those MSMEs who lack Infrastructure. We can Connect, Showcase, Cross Sell others’ products/services. We offer both Technology and Business Consulting for MSMEs to upgrade their processes.

We plan to reach MSMEs through conventional means like Business Fairs, Consumer Fairs, Events, Roadshows, Conferences, SME Conventions, MSME Associations, and new-age media like Social Media Marketing via Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, MSN, Yahoo, Google + etc, SEO, SEM, E-Mail Campaigns & SMS Campaigns. Also we publish Newsletters, E-zines, Articles in SME / Regional Business Magazines to create awareness and adopt the latest trends in technology.  Most of the competitors sell their offering per user per month basis and Rural ERP will be available per Edition per Annum based with ‘X’ number of users. There are no additional charges such as Annual License fees, Maintenance and Training.

Our customers are Micro and Small businesses (broadly categorized as MSMEs) located in Rural and Semi-Urban areas and that means the ERP is not only limited for the above mentioned. Those who wish to follow certain processes and wish to automate their business line of functions can use Rural ERP, irrespective of their location – Rural or Urban.

And the End users are Business Owners, Salesforce, Employees, Suppliers and Vendors, Customers and Business Agents etc., with restricted user access to their content or data.

3. What was the thought process behind starting a venture like this? What challenges do you face in selling the concept to the rural customer?

While developing custom CRM applications to our customers in Tamil Nadu we were facing several questions and challenges in front of us. Almost 90% of the MSMEs (in our case) are running as a family owned or backed enterprises. The older generation has yet to adopt or embrace the Technology as a tool to improve their businesses. But the current generation (Gen F, means Generation Facebook) is ready to board the so called missed Tech Bus to run their businesses professionally to reach their destination.
And other major problem they are experiencing is the steep learning curve in using IT products. All the products are available in English and the difficulty in understanding the language to use the product is a barrier amongst the semi-skilled or unskilled workforce and restricts and resists them from using it.

And the two basic myths about ERP are 1. ERP Systems are Complex 2. ERP Systems are Costly. We wish to break these myths and provide simple and affordable ERP to the MSME Community. We help MSMEs better manage their day-to-day activities thus reducing paper work, adopting the green ways of computing by having their resources on Cloud and concentrate on their core activities. We wish to show the world that MSMEs mean Most Smartly Managed Enterprises by addressing these challenges with our offerings thus born the product Rural ERP.

Risks/Challenges faced (and the Mitigation Strategies)

- Convince the MSMEs to invest in Cloud technology and bring their Confidence in Securing Data over cloud.  (Strong security measures with encryption)  (Plan our own Data Center for greater Control)
(On-Premise Data Management)

- Lack of infrastructure like Computing, Telephony, Broadband, Networking, Convergence etc., among MSMEs.
(Providing integrated infrastructure solutions with third party support)  (Rural Business Centers)  (Managed Services)

4. Future plans?

And coming to our future plans, we wish to be part of the evolving MSME ecosystem by innovating and delivering simple and affordable solutions. Mobiles and Mobility is going to be the biggest benefactor in all Emerging market economies and we want to explore and offer our services to integrate with Mobile workforce where BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and Work-From-Anywhere (Work-Life-Balance) concepts are the new order and changing the Enterprise arena. We have roadmaps to innovate on the lines of Voice-Enabled ERP where almost everything is captured to the ERP system through voice. And by the FY 2015 we expand to Global market with more language versions of Rural ERP to cater to the world of SMBs.