Zoho to offer IoT under customer relationship management: Sridhar Vembu

Sridhar Vembu, founder and CEO of Zoho Corp
Zoho Corporation, the SaaS-based company is planning to expand its business to the Internet of Things (IoT) offerings under its Customer Relationship Management (CRM) for industries including automotive sector. The company, which has been into organic growth so far, would be looking for small tuck in acquisitions as the global SaaS industry is moving towards consolidation now, said Sridhar Vembu, CEO of Zoho.

The company has integrated WebNMS, a division which has been working on IoT, into Zoho as part of integrating its offerings. It may be noted that the company last year launched an integrated offering under Zoho One, which currently offers all its 40 suits as a bundled product and this has boosted its growth projections.

"CRM is evolving to be the centre of business. Suppose somebody sells you an air-conditioner, they want to know how well the unit is doing and need to send a technician if there is some problem detected. IoT becomes the centre of the CRM strategy. That is how we see the WebNMS technology integrated into the CRM," said Vembu. While the offerings would be in the Business-to-Business segment, it will also have a play into the end customer issues.

Plans are to enter into the IoT integrated into CRM in a selected sectors and to expand it to a larger level over a period of time. The company has developed IoT technology in-house and announcement related to this will be made in around three months.

Following the Zoho One launch, the company has raised its growth projections, from the current 30-35 per cent to another 10 points, which would start realising in 2018, both in terms of revenue and customer acquisition. The company has not revealed its revenue size.

"We are going to be aggressive. We have raised our growth projections for the next three to five years. Tirupathi expansion has to do with this growth projection," he said. The company has recently opened an office in Renigunta, near Tirupathi, in Andhra Pradesh as its third location for product development, after Chennai and Thenkasi, in Tamil Nadu.

The company is expecting the global SaaS industry to see consolidation in the near future and would be looking at small tuck-in acquisition for technology or market. While its policy has been against acquisitions, as it is hard to integrate culture, acquisition of small teams could be managed by it.

"We are going to see lot more consolidation. Customers want integrated products. It is both expensive for them to buy ten different products and integrate and a lot of licensing and administration problems. The cost of customer acquisition for the vendor is too high now. When you bundle the product, the cost comes down. The third reason is that there is lot of Venture Capital money there and they want an exit. These are the three drivers of consolidation. Our sense is that Zoho One further accelerates this consolidation. We are going to see suits like Zoho One emerging in the next three to four years, but we want to stay ahead," he said. However, the higher valuation is one of the reasons for the slow pace of consolidation at present.

It currently has around 5100 employees and this is expected to go up to 6000 by end of the year. The company is also opening an office in Amsterdam for sales and support and another office in Singapore. Besides, it would also look at setting up its office in Latin America, which could be in Mexico or Costa Rica.