Mobile and cloud way forward for SMEs: Zoho | SupportBiz

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Mobile and cloud way forward for SMEs: Zoho

A comprehensive suite of online businesses, productivity and collaboration applications, Zoho has made an impact on managing the business processes and information of SMEs, making them more productive.

Zoho has a variety of online applications, ranging from CRM to Mail, Office Suite, Project Management, Invoicing and Web conferencing.  

In an exclusive interaction with SupportBiz, Raju Vegesna, Chief Evangelist, Zoho, shared some key insights  into the technology usage patterns of Indian SMEs and market trends.

Edited excerpts:

What are the key challenges that Indian SMEs are facing?

India has the second largest population of SMEs among BRIC countries and the US. SMEs contribute more than 60%  to the Indian GDP, while their spending on IT is only 30%  of India's total IT spending, states a recent study 'IT opportunity in the Indian SMB landscape' by management consulting form Zinnov.

Some top challenges faced by Indian SMEs include lack of IT awareness and unclear return on investments (ROI). However, the segment is highly scattered,  necessitating   integration. Moreover, the segment is also struggling with high cost  of technical support.

What importance do  SMEs carry for ZOHO’s India market? Please share your go-to-market strategy for  Indian SMEs?

India is definitely one of the fastest-growing markets for Zoho. However, IT adoption is still in its early stages, particularly in case of cloud applications that are dependent on internet adoption. Assuming internet penetration, the next challenge is going to be reaching these SMEs. Zoho is trying to tap the SME market through various channels. For example, TATA Communications,  our OEM partner,  is delivering some of our applications under a white label. We are also partnering with some local companies, like resellers and system integrators.We recently signed up with Ingram Micro, because of the tendency of  SMEs  to trust  their local IT vendors more. Zoho has the technology and tools that SMEs need. These larger companies have the reach. We partner to take advantage of each other's strengths. Currently, is focusing on SMEs in the metros in India, where internet penetration is higher than the non-metros.

What are the key flagship products that ZOHO offers for SMEs?

We do have individual products, but we look at it as an entire suite. When a businessman has a problem,  he does not  look at various vendors to solve it; what he  needs is a complete solution to his problems. We have a suite of apps, found in the Zoho suite on the cloud,  which can address most of a company’s issues and IT needs.  

The first thing a business needs is to host a website, then manage e-mail, host  documents, manage accounting information, invoice  clients, and manage  customer information. At Zoho, we believe that instead of going to different vendors,  one can have a formidable suite of applications in one place that can help you do all of the above – integrated solutions at a good price, available in the local market – That is our value proposition.

Do you  think cost is a major element in the technology buying decisions of  SMEs?

Today, SMEs want to  focus completely on running their business, not their IT. Cloud application vendors are better experienced in hosting scalable, redundant and secure systems than most businesses. Their economies of scale also give better cost structure for businesses, instead of hosting these applications in-house. This availability of lower-cost software allows many businesses to adopt cloud applications to improve their business efficiency. 

What are the major trends driving your roadmap for business in India in times to come?

There are two trends that can be observed in the Indian market. One is that cloud applications are definitely coming out and penetrating the Indian market. The second is the most interesting and is a combination of cloud and mobile. Though a mobile phone does not have the capability to process a lot of information, the cloud does. When you combine these things, something very powerful can emerge. When I say cloud, I mean cloud apps, which let you access data processed by the back-end, but the results of which can be viewed on your phone. Zoho is just about to launch a new feature in our CRM app, where anyone can use it on their phone to view all customers in the current location. The application makes a request to the cloud, gets  the 1000 or more addresses featured in  a firm’s database, and sends it back to  the entrepreneur’s phone. This would be impossible with just a phone, because you  cannot store a large database; this is now possible  with the cloud. This adds value  to your phone. This combination of cloud and mobile is going to hold significant value, specially in a market like India. Zoho will be known for its business apps and its broad set of business applications, not only for  its consumers, but for businesses as well. If you are running a business, it will be good for you to know Zoho, because we can deliver a lot of value in terms of our products. We will continue to focus our efforts and launch more products along these lines.

What are the key verticals of your business focus?

We do not  focus on particular verticals. However, we have identified a trend – mobile. This  is going to be the future, and it is going to be big, especially in India, where there are 10  times more mobile devices than computers. This  is another area that is of high priority for Zoho. We will be launching 15 to 20 mobile apps in 2013. Smartphones and cloud apps are going to be an important trend, moving forward. Given the limited resources on mobile devices, they will be powered by strong cloud infrastructure/apps. Mobile  and cloud application waves will be  tied together, and will explode. We are already seeing this in countries with higher smartphone adoption. Smartphone adoption in India is still low (4%), but as it increases, it is going to change the industry.