Sridhar Vembu says that Zoho One, which offers 38 Zoho apps at Rs 1,000 per employee per month, provides businesses with all the apps they need to acquire and serve customers, run operations and provide tools for employees to work collaboratively.
ZohoCorp has always been a pioneer in making office apps affordable to young entrepreneurs. Now, Sridhar Vembu, Co-founder of Zoho, has taken another big bet to be a part of the journey of young entrepreneurs graduating to becoming larger enterprises.
Zoho now hopes to combine all its services into one operating suite or system of services called Zoho One. This will include 38 apps (web and native), some with browser extensions, smart TV and Apple TV extensions, all available to businesses at Rs 1,000 per month.
Sridhar says the all-in-one suite will ensure that businesses no longer have to run around with account managers for new apps.
“This is one operating system and will contain one invoice; that will simplify things,” he says
With this move, Zoho hopes to capture the lifecycle of the business customer. The customer who begins as a startup with Zoho will evolve into a large enterprise with Zoho. Around 400 organisations have signed up for a private beta of this product.
The next step for Zoho is clearly to take on the likes of Salesforce, Microsoft and other cloud based service providers.
Sridhar says that Salesforce spends close to $110 to acquire customers whereas Facebook spends less than 0.50 cents.
“This is my intention to revolutionise software usage,” he says.
Globally top SaaS brands in the CRM space charge customers Rs 1,800 a month for a few enterprise grade apps. With such competitive pricing, companies like Microsoft, SAP and Intuit will need to price their products in the cloud cheaper.
Yanna Dharmasthira, Research Director at Gartner Inc, says: “Today, most companies want to add as many customers as possible. There is more focus on the sale, and they are yet to increase the lifetime value of the customer.”
SaaS is a model widely being advocated across several product companies like Microsoft and SAP too, she adds.
But the primary difference between these billion-dollar companies and smaller SaaS companies is that founders drive the sales in the latter, and have direct relationships with business heads of organisations.
Large product companies work with vendors—like Infosys and Wipro—and sales channels for the product to be implemented. This should help startups establish a direct connection with brands to cross-sell services.
“There is a price war going on for customer acquisition. So you are really not making money on your service, and the marketing costs are high,” Yanna says, adding that in that context smaller companies are going to suffer because capital is being burned. “But SaaS is here to stay and enterprises see the benefits of the cloud,” she adds.
Chief Evangelist at Zoho, Raju Vegesna says the move comes “as a welcome change” for a market littered with vendors with bloated business models offering individual, overpriced applications.
“Zoho One changes the game by offering an all-you-can-eat application suite at an unheard-of price,” he says.
Some businesses that were part of the private beta commented on the use of the operating system.
Naveen Valsakumar, CEO, Notion Press, says the Zoho One suite of applications has “aligned the entire team into one unit and has enabled us to make data-driven decisions”.
Notion Press was given an early access to Zoho One, and has been using it for over a month.
Prakarsh Gagdani, CEO, 5paisa, feels that vendors who offer “multiple tightly integrated products under one roof will have a huge edge over others” because every new product needs time, costs and integration efforts that reduce productivity.
“With Zoho, we have a unified solution that allows us to track the journey of customers from the time they are data points till after they have become customers,” Prakarsh says. He adds that having one view for CRM, email campaigns, customer support and other software has helped them take a holistic approach towards customers.
Zoho One provides businesses with all the applications they need to acquire and serve customers (marketing, sales and support apps); run operations (finance, recruiting and related HR apps); and provide all the tools for its employees to work collaboratively and get their work done (office suite, mail, personal productivity, and collaboration apps). They can even build custom apps for unique business needs and put them under the same umbrella—creating a single operating system for the entire business.
With 38 applications, complementary mobile apps along with several browser extensions and extras, Zoho One offers the broadest suite of business applications in the market along with an administrative control panel for centralised administration and provisioning.
Unmatched Integration: The company can integrate easily with third-party apps to ensure smooth running of the business as Zoho One offers hundreds of integration points across its applications. These integrations connect sales, marketing, customer support, accounting, human resources and other activities, while also fostering communication and collaboration among colleagues, customers and vendors.
Zoho One applications also integrate with hundreds of leading third-party software applications, preserving customer choice and flexibility. It breaks the traditional approach to integration, involving large budgets and armies of expensive IT consultants to integrate application silos from multiple vendors to set up IT.
“This is what de-rationing of IT is all about. It is easy to use and access, and not for the privilege of large companies with deep pockets,” Sridhar says.
Centralised Administrative Control: Zoho One offers one secure account and single sign-on access to the entire suite. A single admin panel enables and controls access, greatly simplifying provisioning, access and audit. Users are provisioned, groups created and shared across apps, applications enabled or disabled—all from a single place. Policies may be defined company-wide, like enforcing two-factor authentication for all employees to ensure secure access. Control can be centrally enforced or delegated through service admins for individual departments and groups.
Disruptive Pricing Model: This operating system dispenses with traditional vendor pricing strategies—like upgrades, add-ons, multi-year contracts and usage restrictions—designed to chain the customer to the vendor and make real pricing opaque.
Zoho One includes enterprise-level editions of all Zoho business applications, along with mobile, native apps and extensions. This system does not tie the business owner into multi-year contractual requirements.
Sridhar feels that with the complexity of running multiple applications taken out of their way, customers can focus on their core business.
“With Zoho One, customers are not just licensing the apps they need to run their business. They are licensing peace of mind,” he ends.