Don't Sleep on Zoho
Don't sleep... a term I don't think I've used since the 80s, but it did seem to fit. If you're not already familiar with Zoho than please do yourself a favor and get familiar with them. And while I tell y'all (yes I'm in the south) not too sleep on these guys, I have done just that for way too long. Thanks to Zolis Erdos of the Enterprise Irregulars and his great post for motivating me to finally do this.
In some people's eyes (not mine), Zoho is considered to be a poor man's Google, with respect to all the free (or close to free) apps they have created over the last few years. Which is why I've been meaning to post on what these guys are doing for small businesses for a long time, especially after I had an opportunity to talk with their Evangelist Raju Vegesna last month for my show to discuss their new enterprise edition of the CRM service. Then I meant to post on hearing about the new functionality in Zoho Sheets that allows you to run Excel-like functions such as macros and pivot tables. And then they made it easy for users of Google and Yahoo! services to use their ids to try Zoho apps.
Now the single sign-on thing may not seem like much, but it shows you just how much Zoho GETS small business and our needs for simplicity. Zoho already has a dizzying array of quality apps aimed squarely at SMBs. Many of these services are free of charge (Writer, Notebook, Sheets, etc.) with others at a very affordable rate for even the smallest of businesses. And they keep churning these apps out - in fact by the time I'm done with this post they'll probably have another app out the door. This alone makes Zoho important in the small businerss world. But what I like is that they are willing to find ways to make their services work the way we need them to, and not try and force us to fit their needs. That's why the single sign-on piece is helpful, and smart. We all have Google and Yahoo! accounts, so why not allow us to use these logins instead of making us add yet another username and password that we'll have to keep track of. Zoho gets that we don't live in a vacuum, and that there are other companies that are providing good services that we may just want to continue using. They don't seem bent on ruling the world, but on making the world a better place for small business types.
I applaud Zoho for their approach to small business. They put out products that real small businesses can use. They make them work the way we need them to. They make them work with products from other companies we depend on. They may not have every bell and whistle others have, but they cover the basics. And they do it in a way that makes easy for even the smallest companies to jump into. Plus they're on the lookout to provide more stuff for us all the time.
Check out the conversation (approx. 15 minutes) I recently had with Raju on the impact of Microsoft CRM Online on small business adoption of CRM, what Zoho CRM Enterprise has to offer, and how Zoho's business culture differs from Salesforce.com.