The Mission Possible: Shantanu Som

An amazing story of one of the Bengal based entrepreneur, Shantanu Som, in the business of imaging informatics who believes in the journey of being successful, not arriving at it


“Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts,” once said Winston Churchill. The same can be applied to the world of business as well. In business, one passes through countless failures where each one is a great teacher. “You need to get up, brush off the dust, learn a lesson and continue!” says Shantanu Som, director, Technical, Som Imaging Informatics. One of the most important roles he plays as director of this organization is to mentor his people. “I really love doing this. An individual’s developments in all fronts, professional, ethical and psychological are important factors. While we teach and motivate our people to be successful, we also teach them how to handle failures and get more determined and strong with every failure,” adds Som.

Little Steps to His Kingdom
Som belonged to a middle class family where no one from his family was ever into business ventures. He was brought up in a rural setup of West Bengal, his father being a Police Officer who was posted in districts. After his schooling, Som opted for Engineering Education, subsequent to which he was immediately employed by HCL when he was shifted to North India for some time. Since 2002, he became a member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers – USA (IEEE).

Pillars of Business Evolution
The journey of his entrepreneurship began in 1996 with Somnet Dynagraphics, the first company of his group. It was a modest entry where he started with the business of providing after sales support of Office Automation (AO) products like Photocopiers, Multifunction Printers etc. He feels lucky to have organizations like Philips India, ITC and Jadavpur University as his early Customers. “When I left a secure job to jump into uncertain waters of business, everyone in my family was taken aback. Becoming a first generation entrepreneur in a Bengali family was never an easy task. I had to prove myself in every step that it was not a mis-adventure. This certainly have bolstered my determination as an entrepreneur and enhanced my will,” recounts Som. Although he cannot ascribe any one person as being his chief mentor, yet he definitely believes that “Made In Japan” written by Akio Morita – founder chairman of Sony Corporation has been as an inspiration for his first step into business. “It was a great book and I would urge every budding entrepreneur to go through it. My first company, HCL was another great place from where I have learned many things which turned me into a risk taker. For rest of the matter, my father was a great source of inspiration for me. His sense of duty and responsibility has set a benchmark for me. I have learned how to work hard and deliver from him,” adds Som. However, Som never fails to mention that it was his supporters who played a significant role in helping his business float. He calls them the source of his sustenance in all situations. “My Co-Director, Subrata Mukherjee is a great friend of mine from my school days. He looks after the entire commercial and financial operations of our group. Susanta Das, head of our Software Development team is a brilliant innovator and a great team player,” mentions Som.
From providing after sales service of Office Automation Products, there came a time when there was a paradigm shift in the OA domain. The OA products became digital and connected. “We sensed its obvious merger with IT industry much before anyone else and prepared ourselves accordingly. We gave strong focus in learning Digital Imaging, Image Processing and Content Management Systems and this is how our second Company, Som Imaging Informatics was born in 2011,” adds Som.
Not too keen to use Imaging Software and technologies from third party sources, he decided to invest heavily to have his own Software Technology Development and also produce his Software Products and Applications. “This has not only given us a headstart but has also put us in the league of top players of the industry,” adds Som. In last 3 years, the firm has developed world class Application Softwares in Document Management, Digital Library, Optical Mark Recognition (OMR), Bar-code Recognition, Image Cropping and Splitting. Som Imaging Informatics is growing at a decent pace of 6%. In the last financial quarter, the company has witnessed a growth of 13% over same quarter of previous FY. The firm has multiple site offices in other states of Eastern Region apart from Bengal.

“We are planning to have an office at Bhubaneswar this year. By 2016, we are planning to have national presence,” mentions Som. He has two product innovations in line for this year. “First, we are scheduled to deliver an Android Client for Document Management System iDOC, which would allow user to use the system from their tablets/phablets. Secondly, a web based ERP application with an integrated robust content management system targeted towards mid market companies is also in anvil,” says Som.

Product Marketing Strategy
Som undertakes the responsibilities of marketing his firm’s products and solutions by his full service marketing communication department which caters to requirements of Web designs, print design, video case studies production etc. Being an in-house department, they augment well to the requirements which are coming out out of market research and competitive intelligence network analysis. The managed service products like MCPS (Managed Copying and Printing Services) and MSDS (Managed Scanning and Digitization Services) are sold directly as they are too complex to be handled by channel. For software products like iDOC (Web based Document Management System), Som follows a channel policy, where he allows Cloud Service Providers and System Integrators to sell his products. His firm also has tie-ups with various State Nodal Agencies for working in E-Gov solutions.

Winding Up
For Som, doing business is an entrepreneurial journey where there is a vision and a mission. “If you do business only to make money, you may give up at a certain point and shift to another job,” adds Som. The only challenge he faces is the decision making process which is too slow in a place like Bengal. “Business here needs to understand the importance and advantages of swift decision making. A change in work culture is also necessary. Bengal has immense potential and it can deliver with a little boost in confidence building and an image makeover. I am positive that with better governance and confidence building measures, we would be able to recover our lost ground and create a shining Bengal,” concludes Som.

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