“At $1 a day, we are licensing not just our apps but peace of mind for our customers,” stated Sridhar Vembu, founder Zoho, at the launch of its new operating system for business, Zoho One. Zoho One is an all-in-one suite of applications to run an entire business—across every function and organisational group. It includes more than 35 integrated web applications and some 55+ mobile apps. More so, all of this comes with a single sign-on and with centralised administration and provisioning at a price of $30 or INR 1,000 per month, per employee.
With Zoho One, a company has all the applications it needs to acquire and serve its customers (marketing, sales, and support apps) and run operations (finance, recruiting, and related HR apps). Also, it can provide all the tools for its employees to work collaboratively and get their work done (office suite, mail, personal productivity, and collaboration apps). Or, as Sridhar puts it, a whole enterprise can be run on the platform. The best part is that all of this is being offered in a single contract, negating the need for multiple contracts and multiple renewal cycles.
Sridhar stated, “This is the unravelling of a strategy that has been in the works for 10 years. A suite like this typically costs hundreds of dollars and even then customers have to do software rationing. With Zoho One, not only are we doing away with the problem of rationed software but also making enterprise applications available to SMBs at consumer prices.”
Zoho One: Derationing Software, Consumerising IT
Till now, Zoho has offered application bundles including CRM Plus, Workplace for office productivity and Finance Plus. Zoho One is the first time that it has offered all of its software bundled for one price. In fact, the price of Zoho One is less than what Zoho charges for some of its applications and bundles.
However, Zoho will still license individual apps and offer bundled suites and existing customers will not be forced to update their plans. In total, the company has now the breadth and depth of products from SMBs to large enterprise organisations. The three models—individual app licenses, bundled suites, and an all-in-one package with Zoho One —represent an approach similar to that of Google and Microsoft. In fact, Zoho will now be competing against the two software giants in many of these categories.
The most noteworthy aspect of Zoho One is that it dispenses with traditional vendor pricing strategies like upgrades, add-ons, and multi-year contracts with one simple invoice for the entire organisation. As Sridhar says, “At Zoho, we fully embrace the consumerisation of IT. We believe that software should be ubiquitously available.”
Zoho One will also be offering 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 amongst colleagues, customers, and vendors. Contextual integrations bring in relevant information from other apps to improve the effectiveness of any app.
This approach simplifies the “Integration spaghetti” dilemma faced by companies. This is because the traditional approach to integration involves large budgets and armies of expensive IT consultants to integrate application silos from multiple vendors, a privilege restricted to large companies with deep pockets. With Zoho One, sophisticated software will now be available to every business.
Zoho One: Running An Enterprise At $1 A Day
With its disruptive pricing of $1 a day per user, Zoho is setting the benchmarking in software licensing.
Zoho Chief Evangelist, Raju Vegesna stated, “This 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.”
Sridhar claims that the product has already signed up hundreds of users even without a formal launch. He adds that they are preparing for a deluge of users, a reason which made them accelerate the launch from September to July 2017. Some of these customers include online publishing platform Notion Press and online financial portal 5paisa.com.
The idea is to dispense with traditional vendor pricing strategies like upgrades, add-ons, multi-year contracts, and usage restrictions. They effectively chain the customer to the vendor and it was something which Sridhar always wanted to attack. He said, “This is how we always wanted the world to be. It is one of the reasons for developing Zoho One as I was personally sick of the tricks salespeople of software vendors play on clients.”
With this competitive pricing and availability in multiple languages, Zoho is preparing itself for the next years, where it aims to target a billion paying users (Current user base is 30 Mn) as more and more people come online. It will be interesting to see how many organisations will make the switch for Zoho One and how bigger competitors will respond to Zoho’s aggressive pricing.