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Zoho bets on centralization to win battle against Hubspot, Salesforce

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While startup communities often promote decentralization and acquired growth, Zoho is making a huge bet that centralized, purpose-built technology will win the day. Their response to skepticism is practical – centralized systems are made to work with one another, while disparate systems with integrations face an uphill battle to create a seamless user experience.

Speaking to Tech Daily, Zoho’s evangelist Chandrashekar LSP, who goes by “LSP”, shared the tech company’s hope that with the launch of their new platform Zoho One – a platform that seamlessly integrates over 40 of Zoho’s business management applications – they will outcompete major industry players like HubSpot and Salesforce.

 

“Run your whole business with one platform”

“This has been a 10-year long journey for us, knowing there [would] be a time where we will provide a platform where people can create workflows across each department and string things together to build an entire [business-wide] application,” said LSP.

The hallmark of Zoho’s 10-year-plus journey has been the fact that Zoho has not acquired a single piece of its technology, said LSP. The company has been “building frameworks” for years based on the vision of a fully integrated office in the cloud.

This is also the anchor of Zoho’s big bet: that purpose-built technology will integrate faster and work better than Frankenstein-ed technology from acquisition.

“One of the challenges that most of the competition has is the fact they’ve had to acquire various technologies to build their ecosystem or platform,” LSP said. “As far as Zoho is concerned, we have not made any acquisitions across any of the product offerings that we have.”

 

Integration is step one

As other tech firms with acquisition strategies focus on bringing newly-acquired technology into the fold, Zoho escapes one problem and gains one win: they can prioritize their time on user experience, over integration, and they don’t have to deal with different workplace cultures meshing poorly.

“Acquisition comes with a big challenge in terms of acquiring cultures as you acquire technology products,” said LSP. “One thing that’s gone in favour for us at Zoho, without any acquisitions, is that our culture has always been about building ecosystems and platform.”

A driven mentality towards creating ecosystems from day one is why Zoho One is actually only step one in the process and a tool to help the company reach its vision. The real win, said LSP, is in the opportunity for vertical solutions and solution packages because all the applications can now talk to each other.

“We are coming up with vertical applications built on top of Zoho One,” said LSP. “One example is the Marketing Hub, which combines things like BI [business intelligence] and A/B testing. Another is our Commerce Platform, which integrates front-office functions like website and A/B testing with back-end pieces like accounting and financial packages together with inventory systems, all on top of Zoho One.”

 

Our home and native land (and expand)

The functionality of a single solution all the way up to a fully integrated suite offers Zoho the chance for “land and expand” growth, as LSP said the company is planning to do. In their ecosystem, a user can start as a CRM client only. From there, they could champion the Sales Platform vertical for their department, and all the integrations would be ready for them. Then Zoho could be added to other departments or company-wide, each time preserving data integrity.

It’s the strategy that LSP said Zoho has planned for its Canadian expansion. Right now, the company has two people in Canada – LSP out of Montreal and a business development leader out of Vancouver – and both are consultants. That will change by next year, said LSP.

“We already have two people on the ground here, but at this point we are consultants,” said LSP. “The goal is to establish a formal entity [in Canada] by .”

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Stefan Palios

Stefan is a journalist and entrepreneur passionate about the people behind tech. He writes about innovation, scaling, people management, and entrepreneur journeys, among other things, and is the founder of PulseBlueprint, an educational media company for entrepreneurs.