Zoho Corp launches slew of apps for various stakeholders to fight coronavirus crisis
Corp, a pioneer in SaaS, is gearing up to fight the coronavirus crisis. While it has announced a slew of apps for schools, developers, trainers, governments, and NGOs, its Founder Sridhar Vembu told YourStory that the world has to also prepare for a new monetary system and India should be ready for a de-dollarisation of the world.
“Many nations are going to realise how much they are dependent on the dollar and because of that they are not able to protect their own economies during the pandemic. The process of de-dollarisation has started and all nations have to work together for a new global trade and financial standard. India should protect the needy and the small businesses. The pandemic has exposed the current economic system and I have prepared my staff for tough times," says Sridhar Vembu.
He adds that for India to stay relevant in technology, it cannot export labour and that it has to make products to stay relevant.
Zoho has cut bonuses and not salaries and it will avoid layoffs. “We are not there yet. Whether it is three months, six months, or a year, I cannot tell. We are prepared for the worse. I am already proposing that my employees work from their homes and villages,” says Sridhar.
Sridhar said Zoho would adopt a wait-and-watch approach in the industry. “Clients are going to realise that they are working with too many SaaS companies and that they have too many accounts to handle. Consolidation is long overdue. Those who have good balance sheets and cash or those who focussed on fundamentals will survive this economic downturn," says Sridhar.
He also adds that schools and colleges will have to relook at the way they teach as everything will go online. “I am a fan of homeschooling and I believe this is a trend that is here to stay,” he says.
Swadeshi Sankalp initiative
Zoho announced several initiatives designed to help those in the education and government sectors cope with disruption caused by the pandemic. Under this initiative, workers are provided with software. By using Zoho’s secure data centres, education and government institutions will inherit the company’s top-tier privacy and security practices across all products.
“We are currently living through extraordinary times and experiencing extraordinary challenges. Besides those on the front line, there are industries and communities that are struggling. We have altered our business priorities during this current climate to focus on ways to best serve our community, our country, and the rest of the world, in whatever way we can. The Swadeshi Sankalp initiative is one way in which we can serve our country, by providing relief to the education and government sectors that are in need of a secure solution,” says Sridhar.
After coronavirus spread was declared a pandemic, Zoho launched Zoho Remotely a remote work toolkit, and offered it free to all businesses until July 1. Currently, around 15,000 businesses around the world are using Zoho Remotely, 18 percent of which are in India.
Zoho also launched its Small Business Emergency Subscription Assistance Programme, which has benefitted around 10,000 businesses, 12 percent of which are in India. To ensure that people have access to the latest data on the coronavirus, Zoho created coronavirus dashboards.
Zoho, which has over 7,000 of its 8,000+ employees based in India, adopted a work-from-home policy in the first week of March. The startup has, however, kept the kitchens functional at its offices in Chennai, Tenkasi, and Renigunta in order to distribute food to the local communities. This food distribution programme currently provides 5,000 meals a day to the needy, says Sridhar.
Under the first phase of Swadeshi Sankalp initiative, Zoho is offering its technology and expertise in the following verticals:
Zoho Classes is a new mobile app which enables schools and colleges to connect with their students online. It replaces the need for educators to deploy multiple, disintegrated apps including video conferencing tools that were originally meant for business users and are, in some cases, not secure to use. With Zoho Classes, teachers can upload courses, broadcast live classes, share assignments under set deadlines, and collect responses on one interface. Students can view videos based on their convenience, and connect with teachers directly to clarify any doubts. This allows them to study at their own pace.
To support the government of India’s #BharatPadheOnline programme, Zoho is offering free classes to all government schools in India. For other schools, it is free for up to 100 students. Schools can pay ₹250 per student per year for additional students. Zoho says it has trained 70 teachers and 850 students so far.
Zoho ShowTime facilitates virtual collaborative learning and interactive events. It was released for individualised learning environments including classroom breakouts and professional training. One-click access to ShowTime within Zoho Classes will be available in the coming weeks. Zoho is offering all premium engagement features of ShowTime, from the basic plan onwards, at no additional cost to users.
Zoho is offering its online meetings and webinar app, Zoho Meeting to government bodies free for three months, in order to help them work efficiently and in a secured environment. Zoho Meeting has introduced multi-party videos that allow users to conduct group video calls for up to 25 participants, while other attendees can join via audio. This is currently supported for up to 100 participants. The host can also record the meeting. Zoho Meeting protects user privacy by giving them complete control over sharing audio and video during a meeting, and with in-session features like lock meeting, remove participants and participants entry/exit notification.
Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology recently started using Zoho Meeting.
The company has launched Zoho Creator to help the COVID-19 App Programme. This programme helps non-profits, government bodies, and communities that are working on various initiatives like patient monitoring or food distribution to execute their mission more efficiently with the help of apps. These organisations can place a request, and Zoho will build an app for free using Zoho Creator, a low-code application development platform. The programme has received over 70 requests and delivered 10+ apps. This includes the Citizen Communication App and Medical Staff Management App for local government bodies in India.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration recently launched the union territory's first coronavirus response call centre in Srinagar. ClearWire Technologies, which runs the call centre, uses Zoho Desk, a customer support software. Zoho is now extending free licences of Zoho Desk to all the other state governments for enabling them to help citizens. Zoho Desk was built in Tenkasi in rural parts of Tamil Nadu.
In Goa, around 7,000 government employees conducted a door-to-door health survey of nearly 4.5 lakh houses spread across 12 taluks, 574 subdivisions and 4,000+ municipal wards to identify nearly 5,000 people who were to be tested for coronavirus. The survey form was created by Vacation Labs using Zoho Forms, an online form builder. The surveyors used Zoho Forms’ mobile app to collect the data. In remote areas that had limited internet access, the surveyors recorded the data in the offline mode, which could later be synced online. Zoho has extended Forms free of cost to the state governments that are looking for a similar solution to deal with the pandemic.