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August 8, 1997


The Package Deal

Aditi ventures into a new software game.

The Bangalore-based Aditi Technologies, best known for pioneering the concept of outsourced technical support service in the country, has set up a special group to focus on developing packaged software products.

The 25 professionals strong group is currently engaged in developing electronic mail and messaging applications. The company, formerly known as NetQuest, expects to launch them as products in mid-1998.

According to M D Ramaswami, general manager, Aditi, the company will be leveraging its expertise in projects and system integration into its product development efforts. "In fact, the first products that we are developing are aimed at support functions - our core competence area," Ramaswami says.

Also on the cards are tools for helping Web masters - who put up and maintain corporate Web sites - handle problems caused by large volumes of email.

The performance of its branded products is expected to play a key role in Aditi's plans to go public. "We are hoping the products will bring in the big bucks," Ramaswami says.

The company claims to have received good response for 'Updown', a software tool it launched through its Internet ( last year. According to Ramaswami, several developers have been downloading the product, which is priced at $299, and providing favourable feedback.

Updown helps developers 'upsize' corporate databases running on Microsoft's 'Access' platform to the higher-end SQL Server platform.

Analysts feel the three-year-old company's decision to get into products is a consequence of its realisation that the market for outsourced technical support would take a few more years to mature.

According to them, the growth prospects for the company, which reported revenues of Rs 48.4 million in 1996-97, would be limited in the near-term if it continued to focus on just this business.

"Given (that) the company grew by a meagre 4.54 per cent over the previous year, it appears the concept (of outsourced technical support) is still along way from becoming popular," trade magazine, Voice & Data has commented.

Currently, a major portion of Aditi's revenues accrue from its Internet-based support for various products of US software giant, Microsoft Crop. Over 100 engineers at Aditi focus on answering queries from developers using Microsoft's software platforms using a high-speed leased line connection to the Net.

The company claims to have successfully resolved more than 30,000 queries submitted via the Microsoft forums on US online services and Microsoft discussion groups in the Net during the last two years.

"Providing support is a major headache for (large software) companies like Microsoft - especially given the range of their products. That is why they prefer to outsource this work to us. Microsoft is especially attractive since most of their support is email-based rather than voice (or telephone) based," Ramaswami says.

Early last year, Aditi signed up with US-based Installshield Corp - its first client outside of Microsoft - for supporting the latter's range of software tools.

The company is negotiating with a few other US-based software firms to extend its list of clients. Though Microsoft will continue to be its largest customer, the new tieups are expected to lower Aditi's dependence on a single company.

Interestingly, Aditi's personnel are involved in executing some international projects for Microsoft at the latter's US headquarters. According to Ramaswami, most of these projects involve Microsoft's Internet-based products and tools.

Early this month Aditi signed up with Microsoft's Indian subsidiary for providing telephone-based paid technical support within the country.

Aditi's close relationship with Microsoft dates back to its inception in 1994. The company's founder and CEO Pradeep Singh, who was then an employee of the software giant, decided, with the blessings of Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, to start a business in his home country.

"The important thing was that Pradeep, after a nine-year stint with Miscrosoft in the US, came to India with a contract (for supporting Microsoft products) in his pocket," says Ramaswami.

Aditi currently employs some 140 professionals in its three focus areas: outsourced technical support, Internet-technology based projects and product development. The company also employs a small team of professionals at its US subsidiary, Aditi Corp.

- Compiled from the Indian Media

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