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2014

The Ministry of Finance has invited suggestions for the Union Budget 2015-16. NASSCOM, in the recently held budget exercise (July 2014), shared the following software product taxation issues.

  1. Dual levies on software-vat and service tax        
  2. Impact of 10% TDS on software payments - working capital and operational issues
  3. Clarification on requirement to deduct TDS on upgrade and subscriptions
  4. Inadequate abatement for packaged/canned software for payment of excise duty
  5. Revisit thresholds for SMEs
  6. Increase threshold limits of section 194J of the Income Tax Act, 1961

We invite suggestions from you on what issues should be taken up this year for resolution. Please fill out the details in the format available at

http://www.nasscom.in/sites/default/files/uploads/docs/2014/policy/Recommendations_Pre_budget_Memorandum_2015_16.docx

and send them to policyquery@nasscom.in. To allow for the NASSCOM team to compile and rationalize the inputs, we would require these suggestions by October 5th 2014. 

Look forward to your inputs.

NASSCOM has consistently working with TRAI to resolve the issues that are impacting Cloud Telephony start-ups and Product companies. Cloud telephony services face the danger of disruptions arising from the 13th amendment in the TCCCP, due to the following reasons:

1.  A cloud telephony service provider is unaware when their clients is initiating an illegal SMS campaign which maybe publishing the numbers which the cloud telephony
company has actually subscribed to and has assigned it to the particular client.

2.  Therefore, "Telephone number on which the commercial transaction is solicited" included in the 13th amendment, can potentially put at rest the entire telecom resources of the cloud telephony operator without their knowledge and/or control.

3.  As a service provider, they have no knowledge and little control on the messages that are being sent by the clients and they are not a direct beneficiary of such call back requests.

The TRAI believes that companies should draft robust contracts which clearly prohibit any unlawful action and also have provisions for penalty.

NASSCOM has prepared a guidance note which suggests certain provisions that maybe incorporated in the service contract that will deter clients from undertaking unlawful activities like unauthorized bulk sms for marketing.

The guidance note is based on the provisions in existing contracts and suggestions from TRAI, and will be essential in case of client agreements. The provisions and the action points as suggested will not only allow companies to take planned action but will also help in demonstrating their intent to prevent any transgression of TRAI regulations.

The guidance paper is uploaded on our website:
http://www.nasscom.in/sites/default/files/uploads/docs/TRAI-regulations.pdf

A good disaster recovery plan involves more than the backup and storage of information in a place outside the physical environment of the company.

Typically, the strategy includes tested and documented procedures that must be followed to the letter and revised periodically. After all, when the crisis is established, nobody wants to be caught by surprise. More than that: when a company is prepared for extreme situations, there is a reduction of major losses, reduces any scratches to corporate image, reducing interruptions, distribution of responsibilities, more security and better results for customers, and a return more Fast stability. But knowing how to organize documents has been the big question for most companies.

Generally, there are at least ten reports that cannot miss. First, a complete listing of the backup should contain, followed by: list of all critical phone contacts (customers, suppliers, prospects, employees, supporters etc.); inventory of all company communications and distribution record; inventory documentation; equipment inventory; inventory forms; inventory of insurance policies; inventory of the main computer hardware; inventory of suppliers; inventory of documents housed in notebooks and tablets; inventory of office supplies, including what is distributed in other business units. Today, even several reports already formatted to facilitate filling and the internal organization.

Every disaster recovery plan should also have a master document that describes in detail the procedures to be performed before / during and after the problem. Within this walkthrough, cannot miss methods to maintain and update the plan. Example: if your company acquires a large shipment of paper or even a new outfit, it is necessary that this update is listed in the backup report. This is because in case of failure, all will have an exact idea of what to check. The same should be done in all areas, including Human Resources - keeping records of employees and always updated with the required documents attached by law on each chip. This is regular review, including important material defense with the Labor Court, saving troubles for lack of proper organization.

Another important point is to distribute responsibilities to enact an emergency measure. Who ever heard that 'crashed the system just when the computer technician was on vacation'? To prevent further such deployment of Murphy's Law ( if something has the slightest chance of going wrong, certainly will ), there must be teams responsible for administrative functions, facilities, logistics, user support, computer backup, restoration and other important areas in the organization. Relying on experienced professionals in major functional areas are increased chances of success in the midst of crisis, since this group of managers will eventually overseeing the process, checking documents and following recovery. Ie: even if one of the managers for some reason is not available, this absence will not put in check the thread of the organization.

Last week, as the curtains were being raised at another new edition of the NASSCOM Product Conclave (North) at The Leela, Gurgaon, I was overwhelmed to see how a single event can offer such an exciting platform to start-ups and emerging companies to access the support available in the ecosystem.


The NPC Delhi conference was attended by thought leaders from the entire product industry, including VCs, practicing entrepreneurs, and consultants, who shared their views on the evolving product and start-ups landscape.

 

"Never miss an opportunity to showcase yourself as it takes you closer to the ladder of success" - someone told me when I was young. While managing the NASSCOM Product Showcase session at the event, I experienced this reality.

 

The NASSCOM Product Showcase provided a great opportunity to nine shortlisted product companies to showcase their products in front of a Jury Panel comprising of thought leaders from the Indian IT Industry. The enthusiasm and impulse within the companies to showcase their product was commendable.

 

Every company was given a ~15 minute time slot for the presentation followed by a Q&A session with Jury members. All the evaluations were compiled and normalized carefully to come up with top 5 scorers. The key considerations for the evaluation included several parameters like:

 

  • Depth of understanding of the industry/ customer/ territory of focus
  • Reasoning for growth and scalability potential
  • Competitive differentiation, value proposition & innovation
  • Management Team Pedigree & Experience

 

Based on the scores and internal discussions among Jury members, 5 product companies were shortlisted and given an opportunity to make a product pitch at NPC-North main stage during the product showcase session. The top 5 companies in alphabetical order are (1) Azilen technologies, (2) Cardback, (3) DrishtiSoft, (4) FarEye and (5) Lepton Software

 

CompanyProductDescription
SPOONZOSpoonzo, a food ordering application allows for easy menu navigation and food selection, direct order from your smartphone, quick call for various services, save preferred dishes and favorite restaurants avail the latest offers and promotions and provide ratings and reviews about the restaurant
CARDBACKCardback's vision is to help you choose your best credit, debit, prepaid or loyalty card for payment (amongst the ones you hold), every time you have to make a payment - be it while shopping (in a market or online), eating out, getting your car refueled, buying flight / train / bus / movie tickets, paying your phone and electricity bills, or any other payment
AMEYOAmeyo, a multi-channel and multi-modal communication solution, can be integrated easily in centralized and distributed (multi-site) contact centers and improves efficiency and productivity. Runs successful operations in over 1,500 sites worldwide in verticals like BPO, BFSI, E-Commerce, Government, Healthcare, Retail, Telecom, and Travel among others
FAREYEFarEye is an interesting mobile enabled solution for field workforce management. It's a solution to the most critical problems of manager i.e. real-time coordination with mobile workers, field jobs and customer requests. The problem gets solved by providing quick overview of field force with job status & tool to schedule, dispatch & monitor jobs to workforce
MARKETPULSEWith state-of-the-art customized IT solutions and Services, company helps in dynamic business mapping, business process reengineering and optimization, network feasibility planning, network inventory management. Leverage expertise in location intelligence and provide immaculate GIS Solutions, Remote Sensing, mapping solutions for RF planning, wired and wireless planning

 

Heartiest Congratulations to all the 5 companies on behalf of NASSCOM! All these companies will get a direct entry to JURY round of NASSCOM Emerge 50 2014 awards.

 


We urge you to kindly share your experiences with this initiative!!

The Indian economy is reviving after going through a sustained period of challenges. The new government has set the positive momentum and we see some of the challenges easing. Industrial activity, which has remained subdued for a major part of the previous fiscal, is looking to pick up with the Index of Industrial Production figures showing signs of growth.

Going forward, the decisive mandate of the government should be to create a conducive environment for comprehensive policy actions and a revival in aggregate demand as well as gradual economic recovery during the course of the year. Ensuring a sustained and healthy pace of growth will, however, require much more. Measures to provide a strong fillip to a sagging economy and improving business sentiment will top Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's agenda in the months to come. To improve and fulfil India's long-term growth potential, it is imperative for the government to exercise fiscal discipline, lower inflation, improve bank asset quality and revive manufacturing.

As the economy recovers, investment demand and the need for credit will pick up. It is recognised that the existing banking structure in India is elaborate and has been serving the credit and banking services' needs of the economy. However, the flow of credit to the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector in India hasn't kept pace with the growth of credit to non-SME sector. By its sheer size, the SME market presents a huge opportunity for both public and private sector banks.  For a segment that contributes nearly 12 percent of India's GDP, 45 percent of its manufactured production, and 40% of its exports, it remains largely unorganized due to lack of access to financing by banks. Moreover, SMEs are the primary source of employment opportunities for new entrants to the labour force. This is certainly true of India, but is probably true in most countries of the world, including the developed countries.

SMEs face a wide variety of funding related challenges. From onerous documentation for a loan to lack of "reputation" and inability to provide tangible collateral, the challenges for SMEs are many.  In a credit constrained environment, SMEs are a growing market opportunity for banks globally. For DBS, financing SMEs form an integral part of growth strategy.  A focus on a human centric "outside in" approach to understand the needs of SME customers, the key to success is in customizing solutions aligned to varied customer needs. These solutions need not be only related to financing but must cover the full range of transaction banking services to help our SME clients improve efficiency and effectiveness.

SMEs offer growth opportunity but on the flip side there are associated risks as well. The key to financing SMEs has been understanding or "Know Your Customer" and to provide solutions which are aligned to the growth plan of SMEs. Beside the standard asset and liability products, DBS offers several customized trade-related offerings aimed at importers/exporters or dealer finance program that caters to dealer/distributor of big corporates for bulk purchase.  Apart from plain vanilla products like letter of credit, inward bill collection, and buyers' credit, industry specific micro-products are another way of providing that "extra value add on" to an SME.

For DBS, financing SMEs has been an exciting opportunity, and an experience that has been quite satisfactory till date. With more SMEs coming under the umbrella of organized finance, this segment is expected to provide significant opportunities to the banking sector and for DBS in the years ahead.

Amitabh Verma with an experience of over 15 years in the banking industry heads the SME Banking business of DBS Bank India.  In his role he is tasked with building and growing the small and medium enterprises vertical. Amitabh can be contacted at - amitabhverma@dbs.com

One of the early movers in the product space in India, back when it was far from fashionable to be a product company, and services was king, Noida based CRMnext has come a long way since 2002. The company, today a robust organization with around 400 employees and growing at 100% in terms of strength over the last couple of years, is a success story that many a product company in India today would like to replicate. From getting featured by Gartner in the 2014 Sales Force Automation Magic Quadrant to accepting VC funding from Norwest Venture Partners (NVP), it's turning into a stellar year for CRMnext. So, what's behind the trajectory and what lies ahead?

Going against the grain
"When we first began and I told people we were doing a product company out of India, people would ask if we were crazy, saying India does services, not products," Singh recalls. His team spent the first eighteen months to two years in research, to ensure that they had the right approach to build the right deep IP product. Where a normal product that addresses a single concern takes six months to build and go to market, deep IP products tend to have a much longer cycle, with  years of engineering and work involved, but the product that arises is platform driven and can solve a variety of problems, points out Singh.

Traditionally deep IP work is not done extensively in India, where many companies have a goal of rolling out  products quickly and generating revenue rapidly. In terms of domain, the space that appealed most to the start-up team was CRM, since there were only two choices at the time - either clunky high end CRM systems that were less easy to work with and extremely expensive, or ASP CRM (the precursor to SaaS) which was a simplified option with limited scope and flexibility. Singh says that as much as 70% of the CRM investments at the time (the company launched) were a failure, either because they never got off the ground or because they were not meeting the objectives. After reviewing the CRM products in the market, over sixty products, Singh and his team came to his conclusion that while every company needed CRM, none of the existing ones met expectations and had left users disillusioned.

The team therefore had a clear vision - build an enterprise-class system  system that was flexible, configurable and one that could interface with multiple systems without complex integrations. The resulting product, with its functional coverage and provisions for rapid integration delivers on that original vision.

The Commutable Cloud
CRMnext's go-to-market is based on the principle of the commutable cloud (a term coined  by the company) - which essentially assures the product licensee seamless self-upgrades with no further cost to keep abreast with the latest technology within the framework of a fully managed service.

The strategy has paid off. "In India, we are the absolute leader of BSFI, with the blue bloods of enterprise using our system," proclaims Singh proudly. "Worldwide, average CRM enterprise seat size of Microsoft Dynamics is 50 and SalesForce is around 18, while at CRMnext we are at 1150! Before us Gartner was looking at a 100 seat size - we said, it should be 1000," says Singh.  India's top 3 banks - HDFC, ICICI and Axis, use CRMnext.

Growing by leaps and bounds
Profitable from day one, the company has followed a fugal and cost-prudent strategy to propel a growth that was organically funded. By 2012, CRMnext had achieved critical mass and brand recognition through appearances in analyst reports. The company then embarked on an expansion drive beginning with the Middle East, Africa and South East Asia markets. Although this was initially funded internally the company finally decided to take funding from NVP. "This funding is our war chest, and will be utilized to go into the developed markets," says Singh. Part of the effort will be directed at the US market, the hardest market to crack, yet the most lucrative. CRM is a USD 16 billion industry, with an annual growth rate of 12% and 50% of that money comes from the US market - a very large slice of the pie. "We are so confident on the technology and we understand we can crack the market, having won the best accounts in India," adds Singh.

The secret of his company's success? "As a product company you can't be great if you don't spot trends ahead of others and if you don't lead in thought; innovation is your trump card because you're not as big ," ends Singh. Innovate, stay confident and be ready to expand, seems to be the mantra that has brought CRMnext to the top of its game.

The term talent management is no longer one bandied about by HR professionals, not is it just jargon. It has become a matter of increasing importance in today's business landscape, with employees, prospective employees and even clients interested in an organization's talent management strategies. Talent management covers the entire lifecycle of the employee, from recruitment, on boarding, to training, performance management, retention, succession planning, right until the moment the employee retires of leaves the company.

Ideally, employees should be able to see their place in the larger picture, and know what impact their role has. When employees feel a buy-in is when they will be most active and engaged. To this end, it makes sense to have your talent management strategies aligned to your company's goals, mission and vision. When you are encouraging and training employees in keeping with your organization's business goals and strategies, it's a win-win.

Talent management starts even before an employee joins your ranks
Make sure you are following practices to encourage talent right from the start. When posting job openings, have clear and well-defined job descriptions so the expectations from the prospective employee, as well as the requisite skills-set, is clearly stated. Pick candidates who will be a good fit with the organization's culture and ethics. Make sure your pay scale meets industry standards and is commensurate with the candidate's experience and education. Once the candidate is on board, training and on-boarding should happen quickly - nothing worse than an employee languishing with nothing to do and without getting the full picture about the company - this will lower morale immediately.

Apart from the expected hierarchy of managers and super bosses, implementing a mentoring program and assigning mentors to employees is a great talent management and retention move.  This will work for both parties - the mentor and the mentee. The former gets the chance to share the experience and wisdom they have garnered and injects something new into their work day. For mentees, they are getting to interact with a senior professional and learn from them.

Shed light on the path
Another good way to retain talent is to have career planning for employees. If the career development path and opportunities are open and accessible for employees, it helps them know how they can grow within the organization and what they need to do to achieve their own personal career goals. Make sure to post job openings internally, and give employees the chance to see what other options are present within the company. In fact, hiring internally is always more cost effective and involves less training, so candidates are job ready faster.

Providing feedback on a regular basis, both from teammates and managers, is a critical aspect of effective talent management, as it improves engagement and offers employees the chance to do better, while proving that management is aware of what is going on. It is important to keep feedback mechanisms and review processes standardized across the organization, so all employees feel valued and evaluated on similar criteria. One way to achieve this is by having an internal talent management resource, who owns the process.

Alongside feedback comes training. In order to effectively implement a talent management program in your organization, having the appropriate support from the Learning and Development or training team is critical. You have to engage in training needs analysis, identify the training needs and offer training programs for your employees.

Conducting exit interviews when employees leave, and not just by their HR representative, is another aspect that will aid in talent management. It helps to know why valued and successful employees make the decision to leave, and also to understand why disgruntled employees felt that way, in order to improve retention in the future.

Better talent means better business performance and better results. That's the reason talent management has come to the forefront in organizations today. Gone are the days when employees stayed at the same job for the length and breadth of their careers. They are on the lookout for more exciting opportunities where they can learn more. Feeling undervalued or unappreciated by their bosses is one big reason that employees leave an organization. Talent management strategies can address such factors as they improve the overall employee engagement and satisfaction levels.

A recent television commercial for a large cell phone company that featured a female boss setting hard targets for a man reporting to her (who later turned out to be her husband) ignited the gender debate in India, online and offline. As insidious as the ad is (at the end of the day, the ‘boss' rushes home to cook a gourmet meal for the husband) the key point is that such situations are exceedingly rare in corporate India where the glass ceiling for women is firmly riveted in place.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the startup world in India, where there is a real paucity of women entrepreneurs, who have been bitten by the software bug. The gap starts much earlier at engineering colleges and the IITs, where the gender ratio is heavily skewed in favour of male students. The skew only increases further between year one and graduation. In case of at least two women CEOs we interviewed for this story, Sujata Tilak of Ascent Informatics Pvt. Limited and mapmygenome.com's Anu Acharya, both were the only women in their graduating classes.
A problem whose roots run deep.

Priyanka Rungta, Founder-Director, Navigators Software and BoostMySale, feels that right from childhood, girls are led to believe that they are not meant for technology and gadgets. Thus gets ingrained the stigma that they cannot "get" technology. Though the stereotyping has waned in later generations and within certain socio-economic segments, from the games and toys for children to the language and subtle messages used/spread in society, there is a definite gender bias that is reflected in the choices women make at school, college and in their careers.

The distribution of women in the IT workforce reflects this. From the start, at the lowest levels of the employee pyramid, men outnumber women and as one goes up the ranks, the number of women thins out even more with only a handful of women emerging right on the top, as founders, owners and CEOs.  The trend mirrors the international data on gender diversity in the tech workforce. Industry icon Apple recently published its employee workforce statistics, which paralleled that of the vast majority of tech companies - women form just around 30% of Apple's employee base worldwide. This is the figure that Sujata Tilak, CEO and CTO of Pune-based Ascent Informatics Pvt. Limited cited too for her company.

Helping women ‘lean in'
At Anu Acharya's company - mapmygenome.com - the story is a little different, with 90% of her employees being women. One reason Acharya cites for this is that women are well suited for a field like genetic counseling. She also pointed out that, with the management team comprising mainly of women, there was a tendency to bring women on board. Acharya is also quick to add that gender parity works both ways, and that no one should get complacent, adding that her company is actively hiring more men.

Fewer women, less pay
A recent, well publicized report from Monster.com, the "Monster Salary Index India IT Sector Report 2014," brought to the fore another matter of concern - the startlingly large gap in the IT sector, in wages for men versus those for women employees. Women in IT earn 29% less than their male cohorts, according to this report. Citing women as accounting for around 30% of the workforce, the report (unsurprisingly) goes on to state that there are far fewer women in supervisory roles when compared to the men, and points to a marked difference in pay for supervisory versus non-supervisory roles.

One of the reasons for this is that while women do very well at work at the start of their careers, for a majority of them personal life takes precedence after they get married, and the focus shifts from their jobs. Tilak says that while the women start out on par with the men at the time of their first jobs after graduation, the break occurs at the time of marriage and children. Managing a demanding job and a family is a juggling game at best, and often, women choose to either take a break from work or else step back from demanding positions that require travel and uncertain or long hours in the office. "Taking care of young kids is primarily the mother's responsibility and women should enjoy that time of their lives," she says, suggesting that in order to have a successful career, women must make the decision to come back after a break, and in the meantime, should keep themselves up to date of happenings in the IT world.

Women employees at her company enjoy the full freedom to take a break and are assured that they will be hired back once they wish to return, a statement echoed by Acharya, whose employees are offered the flexibility to work from home and can transition back to work at their own pace, post motherhood . Mapmygenome's CEO firmly believes that in order for women to continue to work post marriage and children, the motivation has to be strong. Some women need to work, but others don't. Feeling valued and getting meaningful work to do will make women return, says Acharya, and they will be encouraged to shoot for leadership positions.

What do women bring to the table in IT?

Women can do extremely well in IT, and are especially suited for project management roles given they multi-task well. They bring a lot of positives, such as the ability to relate to people well ; they  are adaptable, and engage in a lot of self-learning, says Rungta. Tilak adds that women have better empathy and connect better on an emotional level, without succumbing to or creating flashpoints with peers and customers. On the flip side, women also tend to be more forgiving of mistakes and accepting of excuses. "They must learn to be hard task masters," she says. 

What women need
All three women interviewed for this article have several things in common - they have founded and are running successful startup ventures. All three of them cite extremely supportive family - including mothers-in-law and husbands who were either their co-founders or else joined them in the business at a later point - as integral to their success. The pattern is clear - having a supporting family is key to balancing demanding careers and families/children at home.

Why should women ‘lean in'
Rungta is firmly of the opinion that women should not waste their education. She believes that both men and women have challenges, so it is all about accepting the competitive challenges and being successful. One thing all three women interviewed are clear on is that it is about ability and interest and women should not let their gender get in the way. Says Rungta: "I didn't let gender affect me; I don't look at myself as a man or a woman. If I offer value or have knowledge to share, that's all that matters." It is the belief in one's abilities that matter the most. Tilak has a message to aspiring women entrepreneurs, underscoring that it is a fulfilling and rewarding experience. As she puts it: "Don't lose confidence just because you're a woman and society sends you messages that it's a bad world out there. If you are self-confident, if you have a passion, the world can be managed. It's about having faith in yourself."

Go ladies!

Content for box:
NASSCOM has long engaged in initiatives to champion the cause of women in tech. Their ‘Girls in Technology' program (part of the ‘10,000 start-ups' initiative), aims to encourage women entrepreneurs in India through Tech Talks, Hackathons and workshops.

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