Zoho Launches Fully Integrated Application Set, Touts New Pricing Model

Cloud software developer Zoho has launched a suite of tightly integrated applications that the company says provides its hundreds of channel partners with new implementation, training and support opportunities.

Zoho is pitching its new Zoho One, a suite of some 38 integrated web applications, as a complete package for businesses and even individuals that includes sales, marketing, accounting, customer support, human resource management and business intelligence software, along with personal productivity and collaboration applications such as email and document processing.

"This becomes the operating system for the business," said Raju Vegesna, Zoho's chief evangelist, in an interview. "Everything is built on the same platform."

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Zoho, based in Pleasanton, Calif., is also touting its unusual pricing for Zoho One: $30 per employee, per month for the entire suite, although businesses must purchase a license for every employee in their organization to get that price.

"It's a good price for the entire suite," said Miguel Angel Arce, director general of MDO Technologies, a Guadalajara, Mexico-based solution provider that has been a Zoho partner for 10 years and has already lined up nine customers for the Zoho One product. "The concept is that you can run your full company with Zoho One."

Zoho is a long-time provider of applications targeted toward small and mid-size businesses, offering a product line of applications for sales, marketing, email, collaboration and financial management tasks. In recent years the vendor has expanded beyond selling individual applications to selling application bundles such as CRM Plus, Finance Plus and Workplace.

But rather than a bundle of individual applications, Zoho One is an integral system with applications that can exchange data, according to Vegesna. He said the applications in Zoho One are based on the enterprise editions of the company's current software products, which Zoho spent four years integrating into a single package.

Zoho One also provides single sign-on for users and centralized administration and provisioning. It offers some 40 mobile applications that tie into the system and tools that businesses and partners can use to build add-on applications and application extensions.

Zoho originally expected that small and mid-size businesses would be the only customers for Zoho One. But Vegesna said that during the product's beta testing, a number of individuals used the software, as did a number of larger companies with more than 1,000 users – one with 4,000 employees. But SMB companies are expected to account for the majority of Zoho One sales.

Zoho has about 1,200 channel partners worldwide who provide a range of consulting, implementation and training services. "This is one area where partners step in," Vegesna said, noting that Zoho doesn't have its own implementation service operation.

Arce at MDO Tecnologia said he expects small businesses to more quickly adopt the Zoho One package and use it as a foundation to overhaul their business processes.

That fits with MDO Tecnologia's focus on providing services around business process improvement and digital transformation: The solution provider is combining Zoho One with other software and services as part of its Impulso MDO offering. "This creates a great opportunity for us," Arce said in an interview with CRN.

While Zoho One reduces the amount of integration work that partners like MDO Tecnologia have to perform for customers, Arce said that frees up his company to focus on more value-added services such as business process consulting and digital transformation. Zoho One's centralized administration also reduces administrative costs for solution providers and customers.

Partners who bring in customers for the Zoho One software earn a percentage of the subscription price for the first three years of a customer contract, according to Vegesna. He also said that with Zoho One's low price, "We are leaving a lot of margin for our partners" through add-on products and services.