The Genesis of Zoho One

Zoho One is a broad and cohesive set of applications that work collectively to run a company’s entire business on the cloud.

It includes more than 35 apps—centrally administered and under a single-on for the end user—making it a true “operating system” for a company’s business.

Launched in July 2017, Zoho One is the culmination of a strategy more than ten years in the making. Zoho unveiled its first cloud business application back in 2007 and has since continually expanded its products to facilitate one business process after another, culminating with Zoho One today.

So what is Zoho One all about?

  1. It’s a comprehensive and unique approach to span an entire business

Business apps are typically organised into three common categories:

(1) Personal productivity apps, like office suite, mail, collaboration, and messaging

(2) Line-of-business (or front-office) apps, such as CRM, marketing automation, and help desk

(3) Operational (back-office) apps, including finance & accounting, human resources, and recruiting

Tech giants Google and Microsoft have primarily focused on personal productivity apps and have developed very good suites in this area. Google has never tried to take on line-of-business apps or back-office apps. Microsoft offers CRM, through Dynamics, that it’s now trying to extend. Yet their broad market acceptance remains in personal productivity tools.

In contrast, Oracle and SAP have focused on some combination of front-office apps and back-office apps, although not all of these are hosted in the cloud. Neither vendor offers anything in the area of personal productivity tools. Salesforce, after years of focusing on CRM, acquired companies to add on marketing and customer care apps. It still lacks a back-office presence. Most other vendors offer single products to handle single business functions like accounting, HR, or expense management.

This set up means that a customer business must make multiple product selections to meet all their application needs. They also need to take that leap of faith that these disparate solutions will actually together, hopefully well. Vendors offering multiple products have typically cobbled them together through overpaid acquisitions, many remaining poorly integrated even years later. In reality, the integration of products from various vendors is complicated, even where possible, and usually imposes massive additional costs that are ultimately borne by the customer. Estimates are that integration costs can be anywhere between three to eight times the cost of the software itself!

Even with integration in place, businesses experience other nagging issues. For example, employees must have multiple accounts with different vendors, they must deal with multiple sales and support teams, and multiple contracts and service level agreements (SLAs). Organisations also must contend with multiple payment methods and invoices.

An integrated business application suite changes this model because it offers an entire range of apps, under a single offering. By having a single integrated cloud business suite, the customer gets only one invoice, one contract, and one integrated suite for their entire business.

But, Zoho One—compelling as it may be—does not seek to “lock” the customer in. A business should still be able to use any of the suite’s apps, or a number of them, alongside other third party apps. That must always be their available choice. Zoho apps integrate with hundreds of third party apps and interoperate well with them.

  1. Zoho runs on Zoho

As a company of 5,000 employees located across multiple countries, with more than 60 internal teams serving 25 million users, Zoho has for years been the ideal test bed for Zoho One. The company uses only its own products—all of them—and continues to stretch their limits. This is ready affirmation that a large and complex organisation can run entirely on the cloud and not use any software from Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, SAP, Adobe—or any other traditional over-priced software considered “essential” to large organisations.

  1. Market consolidation is clear evidence of need

Finally, the spate of M&A in the cloud space, with bigger players acquiring companies to broaden their suites and to solve larger customer problems, is evidence that Zoho One is following exactly the right strategy. But acquisitions are always messy. The vast majority of them simply don’t work and when they sort-of do, the customer ultimately pays for the over-priced valuations, the erosion of talent, and the poorly-integrated solutions.

The organic approach of Zoho One spares businesses this avoidable pain.

Find out more at: www.zoho.com/one

Aurthor: Vijay Sundaram, Chief Strategy Officer at Zoho Corporation.

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