Chris Kranky

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Zoho: The power of the cloud

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

The power of cloud computing  is how it enables smaller companies to compete . When starting a company, every nickel counts and since you don’t have many nickels, most companies aren’t all that interested in bothering with you. It’s now feasible to go online, plunk down your personal credit card and purchase on a demand basis many of the services you need to get your business off the ground. Even better, once you’re signed up, there’s nearly real time activation and best of all, the monthly fees are akin to ordering a happy meal.

Two years ago, a little company needed a basic invoicing system. They had been doing things manually, using Word to create a PDF invoice. It was cumbersome to say the least. We stumbled literally upon Zoho which is an online service which offers a toy chest of common business features including those for collaboration,  business apps and productivity. Many mundane items such as CRM, invoicing, accounting books, support desk. The list was long and extensive.

Best of all, Zoho lets you try most of the full applications for free (usually with some minor limitation). Cheap bastards that we were (are in some cases), we used Zoho’s invoice capabilities for free for months on end. No one called us nor did we get a barrage of junk emails. We continued to use Zoho and they continued to expand the capabilities. Figuring we had enjoyed the free ride long enough, we are now paying Zoho the lowly sum of $15 a month for our invoicing needs.  The system handles basic taxing, creation of the invoice, tracking of payments, electronic mailing and over due notices and provides some basic reporting. IBM, we’re not, but it’s been good enough as the business grew. We’re now looking at using other Zoho services as well as our needs expand.

$15 a month isn’t much money and doubtful that any competitor would want to ‘steal’ us away. But at the same time, we’d be hesitant to move to another vendor even one with perhaps more features and service but at a substantially lower price.

In a sea of “me too” offerings, Zoho has created application services which offer remarkable value and this is the most powerful marketing message a company can have.