Raju Vegesna | Chief Evangelist | Zoho Corporation

Zoho Corporation: Voyaging towards Zeniths of Excellence

In our continuous endeavour to seek and exhibit 2019’s Pioneering eSignature Solution Providers to Watch, we, at Insights Success, have come across a prolific list of organizations that ceaselessly strive to deliver innovation and excellence.

However, we strongly believe that across the globe, there are certain organizations that are truly exemplary in the way they conduct business, profound in the way they empower their workforce, and persistently determined in the course towards their vision.

In accordance with this belief, through the Business Beacon feature of this edition, we present to you, Zoho Corporation, a multinational software company and an umbrella to three significant brands, viz., Zoho, ManageEngine and WebNMS.

Zoho is the operating system for business, with 45+ apps in nearly every major business category including sales, marketing, customer support, accounting and back office operations, and an array of productivity and collaboration tools.

ManageEngine offers the IT management software suite with over 90+ products and WebNMS is an IoT platform for connected enterprise applications.

Zoho Corporation is privately held and profitable with more than 8,000 employees. The company is headquartered in the United States with additional offices in Europe, Australia, Singapore, India, China, Mexico, and United Arab Emirates.

The following interview—between Mr. Raju Vegesna, the Chief Evangelist at Zoho and Insights Success—unveils the essence of the company’s mission and vision along with a few inside details on how the company is an epitome of excellence.

We’re sure that by the end of the interview, you’d agree too that Zoho is altogether a different level.

Below are the insights to the interview:

With regards to your organization’s 23 years of market presence, how do you think the eSignature and affiliated solutions market has evolved and what can be expected in the forthcoming years?

eSignatures are the modern day alternative to traditional method of signing business documents with paper and pen. Since, the late 2000s, eSigning was declared legally valid for signing most of business documents and accepted in the court of law in the US, EU, Australia, India, China, and many other countries. The worldwide adoption of digital signatures continues to rise for many reasons including easy collaboration, reduced costs, and accelerated business transactions. Due to this rapid adoption, the digital signature market grew from $1 million in 2006 to $1 billion in 2018.

At a minimum, an eSignature product today should offer SaaS deployment model, support ad-hoc and human initiated use-cases, flexible workflows, and ensure document data integration and validation. Additionally, enterprises expect multi-language support, customization, and integration with their existing apps in-house apps and third-party apps. Our product, Zoho Sign offers all these features and much more in an affordable pricing for businesses and government agencies of all sizes and types.

As more people start to use digital signatures, companies will need to ensure they are complying with local laws and legal validation which could be done through identification based on passports, driver’s license or other legal documents. In the future, blockchain tech will make these digital documents smarter—something resembling an automated computer program. One might call these “smart contracts.” This market is a fast-growing one and majority of companies, even governments, are going paperless, and Zoho is keeping up with the trends and making sure our customers have the most up-to-date digital signature platform.

Check out our website zoho.com/sign to learn more.

Considering the necessity of adapting to disruptive technological innovations and/or development of cutting-edge digital solutions, how does your organization sustain its competency in the IT market?

Zoho sustains its competency in the IT market by continuously adding and improving our applications. We consistently listen to customers and make sure we are making the changes that they want and need. In addition, we add applications to our bundles without increasing the overall price – making our customers more equipped to run their company without a financial loss. Our pricing is extremely competitive and includes everything a customer would need to run any size business successfully.

We’ve been private, bootstrapped, and profitable for more than 20 years and we attribute much of our success to a pretty simple idea; ‘Do everything as if you are in it for the long term’. We’ve always believed that keeping customers around for the long run was more important than squeezing as much value out of them as we can. This is why Zoho offers free versions of products, that will remain free forever. We noticed that when users enjoy the value from our free products, they inevitably try out other products in our suite and become paying customers as they grow.

What obstacles or limitations does Zoho Corp. face while growing, sustaining or retaining its clientele?

As a private, self-funded company, our biggest obstacle to growth is not having the seemingly endless marketing budgets compared to that of our VC-funded and public competitors. With that said, Zoho has profitably grown at an annual rate of 35-40% for the last several years. We have always valued our freedom as a company, which is why we’ve never taken any money. That freedom has allowed us to invest in many technologies and challenge a lot of conventional wisdom. It is why we think we can build a fundamentally better product that cuts through the noise in the market.

Provide a few insights on the company culture and initiatives taken to attain adequate employee satisfaction.

Zoho is a unique company in many ways and our culture is no different – we have never done things like other companies, and that won’t change. When people are hired at Zoho, they aren’t constrained by the roles they are hired into. We have had developers become content writers, support staff get into product management, and product specialists turn into brand evangelists.

In an era where job descriptions demand buzzwords and years of experience or a top college, we’re proud to say that Zoho’s employees are unconstrained by prior experience. We rarely scour resumes and we most certainly do not exclude people from roles, based purely on lack of prior experience.

This is also seen through Zoho University, a program where we bring high school students into 9-12 months of training that emphasizes on English, Math, and Programming. Many entrants have never touched a computer before, often for lack of opportunity. By the end of their training, successful graduates receive the opportunity to join various Zoho product teams. Zoho University currently has two locations in India, and we will be building one in Austin, Texas as well.

Could you list out the most growth-deteriorating challenges for your organization till date?

To get to the bottom of this question, I think we should make clear that we’re not obsessed with growth for growth’s sake. We’re obsessed with building a company for the long term that improves the lives of our customers and employees. This can’t be done at unsustainable, breakneck speeds. We might miss out on some talent with fancy degrees because of this. But that’s okay, because those people might not like it here anyway. For example, 15% of Zoho employees don’t even have college degrees. 800 of our employees have come through Zoho University, which we’ve been running for the last 10 years.

With Zoho University we find high school kids who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and teach them software development. We pay them a stipend, so they don’t take on any debt, and at the end of the program we give them a job. Some grads have gone on to become supervisors and managers and lead product teams. We can’t reduce a program like this to a growth number, nor would we want to.

What does the future hold for Zoho Corp. in terms of internal as well as holistic development?

We’re going to continue to do what’s gotten us here: stick to our values and convictions. We believe technology companies should invest in R&D and build products. As we create new efficiencies, we’ll pass that value to the customer, as we always have. And we’ll ensure we do this in a way that puts people first and avoids the burnout you see happening all the time. It’s difficult to see the future, but we think it’s looking bright.

At the Helm of Progress

Raju Vegesna has been at Zoho since the company’s founding as AdventNet in 1996 and now holds the position of Chief Evangelist. When Mr. Vegesna started, the company was creating online applications as just an experience, but the team eventually saw the potential in web applications and continued to develop and invest in the products.

Mr. Vegesna helps lead many teams across all the products and is one of the key people responsible for developing the strategic direction of the Zoho Suite. Zoho would not be where it is today without Mr. Vegesna and his dedication and passion for the company.