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Zoho: Vision, Growth, and Global Expansion Themes at ZohoDay 2024

Zoho’s focus on customer value, global expansion, and product innovation positions the company well for continued growth.

ZohoDay24 was an event for analysts to learn about Zoho’s vision, growth, and product innovations. The event featured presentations from Zoho’s CEO, chief strategy officer, chief evangelist, and other leaders as well as customer testimonials and panel discussions. The key themes that emerged during the event were Zoho’s long-term growth strategy and social impact, its financial performance and customer value proposition, its unique approach to software development and AI, and its global expansion and localization efforts. Zoho highlighted its flagship product, Zoho One, a suite of over 50 integrated apps that provide value to customers across different domains and industries, and its AI assistant, Zia, which is embedded in every product and provides contextual intelligence to users.

Image source: Zoho Corporation.

Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu Shares Vision for Long-Term Growth, Rural Development, and the Future of Work

In his ZohoDay24 keynote, Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu gave a wide-ranging presentation on his vision for the company’s long-term growth and investments.

Vembu highlighted how tech giants like Microsoft and Apple have succeeded by playing the long game over decades, constantly innovating through failures and iterations. He argued that Zoho follows the same model, pointing to its expansion of products and global reach since its founding.

A major theme was the growing imbalance between corporate profits concentrated among a few tech giants and stagnating wages. Vembu analyzed the organic connection between rising US government deficits and corporate cash flows. He warned that startups struggle to compete without differentiated technology or distribution channels.

To address economic imbalances, Vembu emphasized investing in rural development through education, research and development, and job creation. He shared plans to open a new office in Kerala, India, and experiments diversifying income sources in agriculture. His goal is to achieve balanced production and consumption locally through smaller-scale technology.

Vembu also predicted AI will revolutionize software development within years by addressing its current inefficiencies. However, he cautioned of pitfalls and argued complementary technologies are still needed.

When asked about worker welfare, Vembu stressed the need to move from exploitation to affirmation by achieving balance with nature and reducing harm. He aims to cultivate skills while prioritizing harmony and sustainability over consumption-driven growth.

The keynote offered insight into Zoho’s long-term strategic vision and commitment to social responsibility through inclusive rural economic development and preparing for changes in the future of work.

Zoho’s Focus on Customer Value and Global Expansion Driving Continued Growth

Zoho, now a global software as a solution (SaaS) company, outlined its strategic focus on balancing growth and profitability while emphasizing customer value at its annual ZohoDay event.

Vijay Sundaram, chief strategy officer, highlighted Zoho’s large customer base of 750,000 paying customers served by its suite of over 50 products. He discussed the company’s financial prudence as a private company, noting its emphasis on revenue, customer retention, and balancing the four key drivers of its business: registrations, customers, revenue, and retention.

Image source: Zoho Corporation.

Sundaram highlighted Zoho’s sturdy growth. Its revenue has grown 17 times over 10 years, with faster growth in developing markets like Latin America and the Middle East and Africa. Zoho has also diversified its revenue globally, with the US now accounting for 36% compared to 54% a decade ago.

Zoho’s flagship product, Zoho One, was highlighted as a key driver of customer value through choice and flexibility, delivering an average of 20 products per customer. The company’s global expansion through new offices and data centers shows its commitment to customer focus through local talent and events.

Overall, Zoho’s strategic session emphasized its dual priorities of financial discipline and customer value driving continued robust growth, particularly as it expands its global footprint. The company’s balanced approach positions it well for the future.

Zoho’s Product Innovations and Roadmap

Raju Vegesna, the chief evangelist at Zoho Corporation, highlighted Zoho’s pace of innovation and its plans to continue this pace in 2024. The presentation focused on three main threads: Infrastructure, Technology, and Apps & Suites.

Image source: Zoho Corporation.

Zoho has a unique approach to engaging with its customers, as it owns all its code, cloud, platforms, and networks. It is one of the few companies that own their infrastructure.

Zoho’s infrastructure includes the Zoho Acceleration Network, Zoho Monitoring Network, DNS Infrastructure, and CDN Infrastructure. The company also offers authoritative nameservers, including Zoho Domains, and is available for LANs with IPAM. Zoho now has 146 points of presence (PoPs) globally. A PoP serves as a crucial bridge between different networks or communication devices.

Image source: Zoho Corporation.

Zoho is also seeing an increase in enterprises requesting custom, private deployments of the cloud. According to Vegesna, this is due to three factors:

  • Public cloud is getting expensive.
  • Data protection and privacy regulations require virtual walls.
  • Vendors are harvesting private customer data to train their AI models.

“We expect the custom, private cloud deployment trend to accelerate.”
– Raju Vegesna, Chief Evangelist, Zoho

Leveraging Contextual Intelligence for Actionable Insights

In terms of AI, Zoho has Zia, which provides contextual intelligence and is embedded in every product. Zoho offers four models of AI, including narrow models, small language models (SLMs), medium language models (MLMs), and large language models (LLMs). Additionally, Zoho offers a no-code way for customers to custom build their own AI models and is building tools for customers to build custom, contextual intelligence through its Catalyst program. Zoho is also working on the unification of its products, including Sales Space, Marketing Space, Service Space, Finance Space, HR Space, and Legal Space.

Vegesna highlighted Zoho’s focus on contextual intelligence and how it is being applied across its solutions. Contextual intelligence was defined as fusing artificial intelligence with deep business context.

One area where this is being implemented is search functionality. By understanding concepts like the user’s team and permissions, searches can return more targeted and accurate results. For example, a search for documents would factor in who the user’s team members are and what they have access to view.

Business intelligence software also leverages contextual intelligence. Data from multiple systems is analyzed to provide insights into metrics. Going beyond just insights, it can identify driving factors and reasons for changes. An example given was identifying through data analysis that a particular ad campaign contributed to a decline in profits.

By connecting relevant data points from across systems, diagnosis of issues can be offered alongside insights. The goal is not just gaining understanding but also taking action.

As contextual intelligence capabilities are expanded across more solutions, Zoho aims to deliver analytics and AI that offer incredibly useful and accurate insights to help users address business challenges. Its focus on incorporating robust context promises to elevate the value provided to customers.

Raju Vegesna Advocates for a Broad Approach to Artificial Intelligence

Raju Vegesna discussed the need to take a broad view of AI rather than focusing solely on machine learning models. A one-size-fits-all model does not work for AI.

Vegesna advocated making AI more of a platform bringing together multiple models. He said all the hype is around LLMs, but the reality is that different situations require different models. Rather than relying on only one type of model, Vegesna believes AI needs to incorporate various models to have wider applicability and impact.

By taking a broad approach and making AI a platform for multiple models, Vegesna aims to move beyond the limitations of relying on a single model, an approach that could help AI be more versatile in meeting diverse needs.

Future-Proofing Workforces with Technology and AI

At ZohoDay24, Vice President of Marketing and Customer Experience Praval Singh moderated a panel with Zoho customers discussing their experiences with AI and its integration with Zoho products. The panelists shared how AI has helped their businesses, particularly in the areas of customer service and trend analysis. They also discussed the importance of training employees to use AI effectively and the potential for AI to create new jobs and eliminate mundane tasks.

Matt Kuczka of Luxor One shared his experience with integrating ChatGPT with Zoho Desk, which has increased productivity and improved the quality of communication with customers. Ponappa PM from Real Estate company Brigade Plus discussed using Zia to nudge sales team members and direct them to the best time to email a customer. The panelists also discussed the importance of being cautious with data and not sharing it with third parties.

“I do advise my team and tell them it’s your job to be smarter than the AI, at least right now, because we want our teams to read the message before it actually gets sent out. I’m seeing actually increased productivity, but more than just increased productivity increases the quality of the communication that we’re having with customers, which is definitely great, you know, from a brand perspective.”
– Ponappa PM, Brigade Plus

The panelists were bullish about the future of AI and its potential to help their businesses. They wanted Zoho to continue developing AI capabilities and prioritize the needs of their customers. Overall, the panelists were optimistic about the potential for AI to improve their businesses and were excited to continue exploring its capabilities.

Zoho is making strides in leveraging AI across various parts of the business. The customers on the panel mentioned they are using AI to optimize warehouse management and make the customer support process more efficient. Leaders discussed using AI to analyze customer sentiment on calls and better manage follow-up engagement. One speaker mentioned a project that analyzed customer lead profiles to route leads to the most suitable salespeople. Overall Zoho recognizes AI’s potential to enhance operations and the customer experience. They discussed several initiatives to implement and expand their AI capabilities. It will be interesting to see how they measure the impact of these AI-driven changes on key metrics like customer satisfaction and sales conversion rates.

Zoho Eyes Global Expansion Amid Shifting Market Trends

Sivaramakrishnan Iswaran, head of finance products, presented strategies for expanding the global footprint of Zoho’s finance products. Currently supporting over 5,000 organizations across 14 countries, Zoho aims to broaden its international reach amid changing industry dynamics.

A major challenge Iswaran noted is keeping pace with divergent regulations across potential new markets. Accounting standards and invoicing requirements vary significantly between districts, requiring continuous updates to solutions to stay compliant with changing rules. Iswaran emphasized adapting solutions for country-specific needs like invoicing formats and languages is crucial. Iswaran also touched on trends reshaping the competitive landscape. Some established players have recently exited or consolidated operations in certain regions like India and Mexico. Zoho will need to navigate market changes and potential consolidation among rivals. Ensuring solutions are flexible enough to support the needs of customers operating in multiple geographies is another key challenge.

Scaling for large enterprise customers with global operations was another focus. Their demands around performance, customization, and support differ from those of small businesses. Zoho is tailoring its implementation processes and working to achieve the scalability multinational clients require.

On the product roadmap, Iswaran outlined plans to launch new integrated platforms for billing, revenue management, and financial services. This includes payments, lending, and other capabilities. The goal is to streamline processes and provide a comprehensive ecosystem for customers.

Image source: Zoho Corporation.

Iswaran analyzed emerging digital payment and marketplace trends positively impacting adoption. However, challenges around logistics and regulations for ecommerce in India were also raised. Zoho intends to experiment with different business models as it explores opportunities in this rapidly evolving sector.

Overall, Zoho appears well positioned to leverage its existing customer base and technology foundation. But global expansion will require nimbly adapting solutions and business models to varying conditions across target regions and industries.

How Zoho Is Localizing Its Global Business Model

Zoho is taking a transnational approach to localizing its business operations and community impact around the world. Through partnerships with governments and a focus on social initiatives, Zoho aims to address local economic challenges while nurturing talent in emerging markets.

Zoho leaders from each region discussed how the company provides global software with localized pricing to help small and medium businesses in countries like Nigeria deal with economic crises and currency volatility. By charging in local currency rather than US dollars, Zoho removes barriers for customers and absorbs risks from devaluation.

This localization extends to establishing local offices and hiring local talent. Representatives from regions including Latin America explained how they adapted Zoho’s culture while understanding local needs. The company prioritizes hiring local partners and guides them to leadership roles over time. Zoho also invests in tier 2 and 3 cities to bring opportunities to marginalized communities.

Community outreach programs provide skills training, entrepreneurship workshops, and disaster relief. Leaders shared examples of partnering with universities, women’s prisons, and local groups. In Southeast Asia, Zoho works with governments to train small businesses on digital technologies.

Through this transnational model, Zoho aims to replicate the success of its innovation cluster in Tenkasi, India. An independent study found Zoho’s presence there boosted employment, increased women’s participation, and led to the district’s development. As Zoho expands this approach globally, it will be interesting to see the social and economic impact it has on other regions in the coming years.

Zoho Workplace Is Enabling Collaboration and Productivity for Remote Teams

Zoho Workplace. Image source: Zoho Corporation.

At ZohoDay24, the session about Zoho Workplace was moderated by Rakeeb Rafeeque, head of product strategy, who spoke with three users of the product. The Workplace customers shared their experiences implementing Workplace to improve collaboration and productivity both internally and with clients.

One customer, from a package management company, discussed unifying their communication tools on Zoho Workplace after previously using several disparate solutions like Slack, Google Chat, and Discord. They found Zoho Workplace provided a single platform for collaboration that was easy for their distributed employee base to adopt. Cost savings were also a key driver in their decision to switch to a custom email solution on Zoho Workplace.

Another customer, a large retailer and distributor in Mexico, highlighted how Zoho Workplace integrates their various business systems like customer relationship management (CRM), marketing automation, and analytics into a single view of the customer. This has improved their sales processes. They also appreciated Zoho’s flexibility to meet regional requirements.

Panelists discussed how Zoho Workplace has helped their remote and distributed teams stay connected during the pandemic through instant messaging, videoconferencing, and activity feeds. Customers praised Zoho Workplace’s ease of use.

Looking ahead, customers are interested in seeing deeper integrations with communication tools like WhatsApp and contextual intelligence features to gain insights from unified customer data in Zoho Workplace. Zoho and its customers see opportunities to better leverage AI to drive productivity and business outcomes.

In summary, Zoho Workplace appears well positioned to support the evolving needs of distributed and remote work through its unified platform and integration capabilities. Customers highlighted significant productivity and cost benefits to adopting Zoho Workplace.

Managing Customer Relationships With Zoho CRM

The ZohoDay24 panel on Zoho CX, moderated by Prashanth Krishnaswami (PVK), head of market strategy for CX products, covered both business operations and technology. There was also a focus on assessing customer needs up-front and managing expectations between partner companies. When it comes to technology and innovation, the group emphasized the importance of flexibility during implementations. They also mentioned exploring additional applications beyond just CRM, such as analytics and billing systems.

For their CRM implementation, onboarding new users and gaining sales team adoption were highlighted as key priorities. Speakers proposed various strategies like using the system to address customer issues directly. Managing vendors and mitigating risks with a unified technology stack was another important discussion point.

In terms of CRM usage, speakers wanted to use features like sentiment analysis, intelligent lead routing, and data sharing across departments. Goals included fully rolling out the system, transferring knowledge to internal teams, and ensuring all opportunities are captured. Compliance with regulations like GDPR was also addressed.

Overall, the meeting provided useful insights into how the company is leveraging CRM to improve customer relationships and operations. Their focus on flexibility, assessing needs, and gaining adoption across teams should help maximize the value and success of their CRM strategy.

Analyst Brief: Marketing Automation Conversation With Zoho

Zoho Marketing Automation integrates different marketing channels like email, website, social media, and SMS and has more than 10,000 active users.

  • Many marketing automation customers struggle with contact quality. Zoho can offer advice on creating contact lists.
  • Personalization requires contextual experiences across channels. AI can speed up personalization by optimizing journeys, validating contacts, and linking interactions across channels without manual setup.

Analyst’s take: Zoho should concentrate on general recommendation engines, linking multichannel interactions, and creating contextual journeys based on complete customer histories using AI. Enhancing automatic deliverability, domain reputation, and contact validation would also help customers succeed. A playbook for building contact lists could appeal to new customers. Overall, Zoho has an advantage by offering an integrated solution, and personalization capabilities could be improved through AI-powered automation.


Zoho’s focus on customer value, global expansion, and product innovation positions the company well for continued growth. The company’s unique approach to software development and owning all its code, cloud, platforms, and networks sets it apart from its competitors. Zoho’s emphasis on contextual intelligence and its broad approach to AI show promise for delivering value to customers.

Zoho could be a competitor to the big players and compete with vertical solutions as it continues to grow globally and succeed in areas where there are declared winners. Zoho indeed presents itself as a viable alternative, offering competitive functionality and price points for organizations seeking productivity and collaboration platforms with Zoho Workplace compared to Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace.

Zoho faces a big hurdle in that it is not well known. The Microsoft and Google brands carry significant weight in the global tech landscape. Zoho relies heavily on its partner network to increase visibility and reach potential customers. Customers said they found Zoho online through searches, which is usually positive, but relying solely on organic discovery may have unpredictable results.

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