Zoho Analyst Day 2024

Zoho Analyst Day 2024

13 Feb 2024

McAllen, Texas, may not be your typical locale for an industry analyst event, but Zoho is not your typical vendor, and this was not your typical analyst conference. Hosting Zoho’s Analyst Day 24 conference in McAllen brought to life Zoho’s values as a company. Most companies talk about their values and how they give back to the community, but Zoho is on a whole different level, as you’ll see. The event was light on product deep dives, and heavy on demonstrating what makes Zoho unique, along with customer panels and testimonials.

For those of you not familiar with Zoho, the company has 15,000 employees, offers more than 50 apps, and serves 100 million users, including 750 customers in 150 countries. And yes, you read that correctly—50 different apps, ranging from sales & marketing, customer service, email and collaboration, business intelligence, human resources, finance, and more.

Zoho’s roots are in the CRM space, and the company has several CX offerings for sales, marketing, service, and e-commerce. (While the company has a contact center offering, it is very new, based on the Zoho Voice cloud-based telephony app, and is only available in a very limited geography.)

Customers can use the 50+ business software solutions individually or through value bundles and suites. Bringing together its many apps is Zoho One, a single business suite spanning Sales & Marketing, HR, Finance, and Productivity/Collaboration.

Zoho Analyst Day 24 - image 2

What really impressed many of the analysts is that 60% of Zoho One customers use 20 or more Zoho apps!

Zoho has its root in the small- and medium-sized business segment and is now moving upmarket to the mid-range of the enterprise segment.

Privately Held, Publicly Responsible

I mentioned that Zoho is not your typical vendor, and this was not your typical analyst conference. While most analyst events focus on the vendor’s products, direction, and strategy, the bulk of the sessions were customer panels so that we could hear directly from some very happy customers.

Throughout the event we heard about the company’s three corporate values: customer focus, financial prudence, and social conscience.

Sridhar Vembu, Zoho CEO & Co-Founder, kicked off the event by discussing the industry landscape and “the Long Game,” noting that while starts-ups play the short game and focusing on rapid time to market, a disproportionate share of corporate profits have gone to the top few firms playing the long game, notably Microsoft, Apple, and Google. These companies dominate the landscape and their lead is increasing. For example, he explained that Microsoft plays the long game and is on the path of devouring Slack, Zoom, Tableau, while leaving Oracle behind, and dominating the enterprise cloud with Azure and AI. According to Vembu, Zoho is the only company that can match their long game, as Zoho Mail started after Microsoft and Google had already "won," yet it is growing and gaining share rapidly. The long game has benefited Zoho, with business and profit growth.

The expression that encapsulates Zoho’s approach is “Privately Held, Publicly Responsible.” Rather than rewarding shareholders, Zoho is a private company that follows the Zoho Way of socially inclusive development done through geographical diversification. As Vembu explained, “We don’t want to just keep taking, we want to put back into the ecosystem. Socially inclusive development is done through geographical diversification.”

This leads to the company’s philosophy of transglobal localism, where socially inclusive development is done through geographical diversification. Zoho provides and nurtures talent by creating opportunity in non-urban and non-traditional areas. The goal is to restore balance and address inequity through the geographic diversification of key tech roles to rural areas. For example, the event was held in one of Zoho’s office locations, McAllen, Texas. By placing offices in non-major metropolitan areas where there is talent but few jobs, Zoho helps to prop up the local economy. Examples include:

  • Gold Coast, Australia
  • Florianopolis, Brazil
  • Cornwall, Canada
  • Chengalpattu, India

As part of the transnational localism, Zoho hires and works with people locally by extending its way of doing business locally across regions. This includes localization of Zoho’s products, in addition to "Global software with local pricing" to avoid sticker shock when the currency devalues. One of the things that really stood out to me was the fact that Zoho pricing is subsidized in developing countries, especially in Africa, making its solutions more easily accessible to customers.

By hosting the event in McAllen, the analysts got to see Transglobal Localism in action. Zoho hired local artists to create the conference logo, while local florists created beautiful floral arrangements from neighboring farms.

Zoho Analyst Day 1 - image 1

Zoho also demonstrates its values through the Zoho Schools of Learning, aimed at closing the gap between what schools teach and what's needed on the job, and has graduated 1,600+ students. These schools offer an alternative to a college education, providing a 24-month program including one year of internship/apprenticeship. Students pay no tuition and receive a stipend from Zoho, and are subsequently employed by Zoho at competitive salaries, upon completion of the program.

In addition, in 2022 Zoho introduced Marupadi "second chance," a career relaunch boot-camp exclusively to bring women back into workforce in tech.

Another program is Rural Revival, as shown below.

Zoho Analyst Day - image 3

When it comes to social values, Zoho lives and breathes it every single day.


In terms of sessions regarding Zoho’s products, the conference was relatively light compared with other analyst events. During the session devoted to Zoho’s innovation, we heard about Zoho’s innovation in infrastructure, technology, and apps & suites.

Zoho is investing in its infrastructure and is greatly expanding its number of data centers around the world, investing in its DNS Infrastructure, CDN Infrastructure, and VPN, while also adding a new private cloud offering. Zoho notes that it is one of the very few companies that owns its infrastructure.

And of course, no analyst conference would be complete without a discussion on AI. Raju Vegesna, Zoho Chief Evangelist, noted that the best AI implementation is one where the customer doesn’t know they’re using AI but finds value in the output. Zoho has rolled out several AI capabilities, and its Zia AI assistant has been available for several years. The next step for Zoho is Contextual Intelligence, infusing business context to AI. For example, with Zia Insights (shown below), organizations can get useful insights and analytics, and then make decisions and take action based on this information.

Zoho Analyst Day - image 4

Noting that one model doesn’t fit all, Zoho uses a multi-model approach, including narrow models, small language models, medium language models, and large language models. Zoho expects models to become commoditized, and is contextually combining models and optimizing them for customers. Zoho is also building tools for customers to build custom, contextual intelligence.

Zoho is actively innovating when it comes to its apps. Starting with two products in 2005, the company has steadily been adding to its portfolio, with nine new apps added in 2023, and more on the way in 2024, as shown below.

Zoho Analyst Day - image 5

Due to having so many apps, Zoho needs to find a way to simplify its offerings and is moving to a more unified approach. While Zoho One is a bundle of apps, the company wants to erase the boundaries between apps by contextually organizing its 50+ apps into personal and organizational “spaces” and unifying them with a new Zoho One user interface. Some of the information presented is NDA, so stay tuned.

In a breakout session, Rakeeb Rafeeque, Product marketing Strategy, Zoho Workplace, discussed how Zoho segments its Workplace offerings into three areas, with email in the center of it all:

  • Collaboration: including documents/spreadsheets/presentation, task management, file management, and email sharing
  • Flexibility: Apps powered by Zoho’s Cliq platform, including telephony, group calling, messaging, whiteboard, conferencing, and calendars. Zoho’s contact center capabilities are built into Zoho Voice, its telephony offering
  • Happiness: townhalls, knowledge sharing, company forums, live events

AI capabilities for Workplace include meeting summaries, transcriptions, message summaries, and more on the way. Rafeeque noted that Zoho adds value by providing:

  • Better value for enterprises, as the average customer cuts 60% of costs when moving from Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace to Zoho Workplace
  • Business app integrations, as all of its CX and Workplace apps are built on the Zoho platform
  • A partner for growth, helping customers grow and expand easily

Zoho’s value proposition is relatively easy to understand. It provides:

  • Customer Choice, with single products suites and a single subscription (Zoho One)
  • Customer Flexibility, with upgrades and downgrades and no lock-in contracts
  • True customer value

I believe the following slide says all you need to know about Zoho:

Zoho Analyst Day - image 6

What I walked away with was a better understanding of a company with lots of great products, and customers that love them.


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