Zoho One adds new apps for telephony, identity and provisioning through marketplace

The business process automation app Orchestly, which was announced at the Zoholics event in April, is also now live in Zoho One, part of several new enhancements focused mainly on Zoho’s growing enterprise business.

Chandrashekar ‘LSP,’ Zoho’s Canada-based evangelist

Cloud software suite vendor Zoho has announced the new version of their flagship Zoho One platform. It adds three new apps, for telephony, single sign-on and app management and provisioning through the Zoho Marketplace, and implements the Orchestly business process automation app announced earlier this year. They also expand other apps to add new capabilities like blockchain. And they have added a per user pricing option, to provide flexibility for customers who don’t think the standard rock bottom pricing covering all employees in an organization is a good fit for them.

This is the second anniversary of Zoho’s introduction of their Zoho One flagship offering, which took the company beyond its CRM base with a host of internally-developed applications in marketing, sales and support, in production and collaboration, and in back office functionality. It sells for $30 per employee in each company, the same price as when Zoho One launched, and the company says it is committed to never changing that.

“We now have over 45 million users, and 20,000 customers, and have 47 applications, up from 35 apps in 2017 when Zoho One started, said  Chandrashekar ‘LSP,’ Zoho’s Canada-based evangelist. “The 20,000 customers is significant. They have taken the plunge and decided to run their entire business on Zoho. On average, 18 is the number of apps used per customer, up from 7-8 when Zoho One started.”

Zoho’s Canadian business is comparatively strong, with almost 1500 customers.

“It’s about five per cent of our user base globally,” LSP said.

LSP described Zoho One as the sophisticated antidote for complexity in larger organizations.

“It’s a system that can power an entire business – with a platform layer, service layer and an apps layer,” he said. “People often just look at the apps, but there’s a lot more there.  Zoho Flow allows you to create extensions by integrating apps across the systems, even with a standalone application you have created. We have been creating cloud-based services for 15 years, with AI, BI [Business Intelligence], messaging and search. AI is implemented across the platform. And we have now enabled BI-as-a-service inside Zoho One. The BI model is enabled behind the scenes, and does the data modelling to create reports. This puts a lot of power in the hands of the business user, who doesn’t need data scientists to start interacting with the data.”

The company has also been using Zoho One to make a concerted drive upmarket, hiring their first head of enterprise sales earlier this year, and developing closer connections with large integrator channel partners.

“Zoho has always been a sweet spot for SMBs, but now with Zoho One, we are being looked at by more big companies, like IIFL in India, with 30,000 employees,” LSP indicated. “They have many financial subsidiaries. They started out in home loans with us with two CRM licenses there, than moved to the CRM Plus Suite and from there to Zoho One. They are now our largest Zoho One customer.”

The launch of the Enterprise Business Solutions [EBS]  group earlier this year was another key development.

“Larger companies want to see some skin in the game from us,” LSP said. “So we created the Enterprise Business Solutions group to help large business in the pre-sales period, through implementation, and through post-sales to implement customer success. We are getting traction with the EBS group, especially in India, with companies like IIFL, Star and Spicejet. We also signed up global systems integrators KPMG and Wipro as partners. We are creating those kinds of relationships in the enterprise segment.”

So what’s new with this Zoho One release?

“This update has three new services, which I would not describe as shiny, but which are essential for any business,”  LSP said.

One is PhoneBridge, Zoho’s new telephony platform, which integrates over 50 telephony vendors on one side and a majority of the Zoho applications on the other side.

“PhoneBridge creates a bridge for telephony providers to integrate with Zoho apps like Zoho CRM, Mail and Recruit,” LSP said. “It lets customers to make calls from Zoho apps, and gives them easy access to the records of the actual calls within the Zoho apps. You don’t have to log into the telephony provider to get the call record, or the actual voice call that is stored on the provider’s site.

In addition to CRM, Mail and Recruit, PhoneBridge is integrated to over 20 other Zoho apps, but not all of them.

“It is only a matter of time before we have an actual Zoho telephony service, which is likely a couple of years away,” LSP noted.

LSP expects PhoneBridge will appeal to both larger and smaller customers.

“We have seen larger providers interested in telephony as well,” he said. “It depends on the kind of businesses they do. SMBs like the simplicity of telephony, but for larger enterprises, it solves a different problem.”

The second new service is Zoho Single Sign-on. It lets customers integrate third-party applications into their Zoho account.

“With identity, there is a general problem of ‘too many accounts,’ as there is no single sign-on for cloud vendors,” LSP said. “Zoho One now becomes the access point for third party applications, integrating them with Zoho Directory Service.” Zoho Single Sign On works with third-party systems like Microsoft Active Directory, which makes it highly scalable for larger businesses.

Single Sign On also lets admins enforce YubiKey authentication as an added factor for increased security, on top of existing multi-factor authentications already supported.

“This allows you to have multi-factor authentication even if the third-party application does not have it,” LSP said.

Out of the box, Single Sign On integrates with about 50 third-party applications, and Zoho says that will grow rapidly.

The third new service is App Management and Provisioning.

“The Zoho Directory Service allows for provisioning beyond Zoho apps, to those apps in the Zoho Marketplace,” LSP said. “If an app is published in the Zoho Marketplace, customers can install and provision it. This gives the easy button to provisioning new apps in the enterprise.”

LSP noted that while this service is made possible by Zoho Directory, Zoho Directory is not itself a service – yet.

“It is used internally,” he said. “It will be made available at some point, and will work like Microsoft Active Directory.”

Another new app, Orchestly, which was announced at the Zoholics Austin event in April, is also now available. It is a Business Process Automation app, which automates and models business processes using workflows. It lets users implement custom business processes that can’t be obtained in commercial software, without the cost and complication traditionally incurred in designing custom apps. It uses a drag-and drop interface to enable non-technical users.

“Orchestly is targeted at users with no coding experience, and will mainly appeal to larger businesses who design custom apps,” LSP said.

Another existing app, Zoho Sign, which provides digital signatures, is enhanced in this release. Sign now provides an additional level of verification for customers by adopting blockchain-based timestamping through Ethereum. When a document is signed using Zoho Sign, an Ethereum transaction will happen in the background, and the hash of the signed document will be added to the transaction notes.

Zoho is also announcing Jumpstart for Zoho One, which is aimed at helping enterprise customers through their initial implementation. All Zoho One customers get out-of-the-box support. Enterprise customers can now request premium support with Jumpstart for Zoho One.

The price for Zoho One remains $30 per employee per month when all a company’s employees are equipped with the platform. However, Zoho is also introducing a new option when the customer wants to equip only a select number of employees.

“We are adding per user pricing of $75 to provide more flexibility to buy for a limited number of users,” LSP said.

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