Midmarket customers praise Zoho ease of use and extensibility

Phil Wainewright Profile picture for user pwainewright January 25, 2019
Two midmarket customers, Rain for Rent and Rahi Systems, have been speaking about their experiences with the Zoho cloud applications platform

Team celebrate success silhouette twilight sky © tong2530 - Fotolia.com
(© tong2530 - Adobe Stock)
Cloud-based business applications vendor Zoho wants to be known for its appeal to midmarket and larger enterprises in addition to the SMB segment which it's traditionally targeted. The customers it chose to showcase at its analyst summit this week proved a good fit for that profile. They also showed the advantages of the vendor's SMB pedigree, emphasizing how easy they found it to get results using Zoho.

Julie Doris, Head of Sales Operations at Rain for Rent, an industrial equipment company specializing in liquid handling, says that Zoho is not only easy to customize to the company's needs, it's also easy for users to pick up:

We love Zoho. It's easy to customize, easy for users to intuitively use. Our users aren't computer savvy across the board.

Founded in 1934 and headquartered in Bakersfield, California, the company has been using Zoho CRM across a 300-strong sales team for almost a year now. The ability to quickly make changes as an administrator or developer contrasts with the company's prior experience with Microsoft Dynamics, says Doris:

Dynamics is not that easy to use behind the scenes and change things. With Zoho, click-click-click and it's just done.

Extending functionality

Tarun Raisoni, CEO at Rahi Systems, an enterprise IT solutions provider with over 450 employees based in the US and India, also singled out ease of administration as a big plus. His company licenses the complete Zoho One suite and has deployed more than two dozen applications including HR, marketing and project management:

That's a huge advantage to Zoho. The time it takes to administer these applications is very much less.

As well as the off-the-shelf applications, Rahi has done extensive development of its own custom applications on the Zoho platform. The company has developed a full set of its own asset management applications on Zoho Creator, and also invested in some significant development work to build a project orchestration tool on top of Zoho Project.

The ease with which it was possible to extend functionality came as a pleasant surprise to Rain for Rent. The team has built a custom module to handle the process of converting incoming leads to a deal. They also found it made sense to use Zoho to build a process for tracking master service agreements, says Doris:

I wasn't expecting to use Zoho to track our master services agreements. But it just started to make sense, because the customization modules are so easy to use and it has to do with the customer — so why not put it here?

Going mobile

Both companies are making use of the mobile capabilities in Zoho. Although much of Rahi Systems' business is designing and implementing on-premise systems and data centers for customers, the company wanted the freedom of cloud-native applications for its own staff, says Raisoni.

We didn't want any infrastructure in house. It meant we could work on planes, in different cities.

Mobile had been a key requirement for Rain for Rent, and Doris tested a number of alternatives before settling on Zoho. The company wanted to avoid the bad experience it had previously had with a Microsoft Dynamics system that had been over-customized and worked poorly on mobile. But there was some internal skepticism over whether a product at Zoho's price point could deliver what was needed, she says:

The biggest roadblocks were convincing the executive team and the IT department that we could do this with a simpler CRM.

Adding more capabilities

Having started with Zoho CRM, Rain for Rent has since added a number of other applications from the Zoho portfolio, including marketing campaign management, customer service, messaging and analytics.

The positive side of these tools Zoho offers is that they all integrate together.

External integrations have been built to the company's custom quotation builder and its Baseplan ERP system, as well as API integration to the EasyTerritory service to automate the geographic routing of leads. Data is presented in a number of different dashboards created using Zoho Analytics, with each user's view of data determined by their permissions. Doris explains:

I love Zoho's ability to drag in the information and present it in dashboards ...
We can build a dashboard one time and everyone can see what they need to see.

Rahi Systems started out using Zoho's HR applications for employee onboarding, then added campaigns and marketing. With the entire portfolio now available via its Zoho One license, the company is using a wide variety of applications. It even retired Slack, which it had been using company-wide for 18 months, and moved everyone onto the Zoho Qlic messaging platform.

Beyond Zoho, Rahi still uses G-Suite for documents and email, while the preferred meetings tool is Zoom. The company is contemplating a move from its current ERP system, and Raisoni says Zoho should build out its capabilities to serve this market:

ERP is not scaling ... There's nothing out there that serves that medium-size enterprise. That's a good place I feel Zoho can grow into.

My take

As these customer stories show, Zoho is managing to deliver products that are not only easy to use for the average worker, but also easy for administrators and developers to manage and customize. That extra behind-the-scenes capability is particularly important in midmarket and larger organizations, where policy and process become more important as the scale and scope of operations expands.

Many products pass the first test of user friendliness but then fall at the second hurdle because their developers have not thought through what's needed to co-ordinate administration and customization at a larger scale. Doing so without adding unnecessary complexity is a tough balance to get right, but it seems Zoho has managed to do that.

Image credit - Team celebrate success silhouette twilight sky © tong2530 - Fotolia.com

Disclosure - Zoho is a diginomica premier partner at time of writing and paid the author's travel to attend its analyst day in California this week, where these two customers were speaking.

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