Fighting covid-19 with tech: Zoho’s apps aid study & work

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May 07, 2020 9:05 AM

SaaS major Zoho has introduced targeted programmes and tools to help businesses and communities severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic

covid-19,SaaS major,zoho corp, Made in india, india data centres, Zoho Remotely, Swadeshi Sankalp initiative, Covid dashboards, Sridhar VembuSridhar Vembu, CEO and co-founder of Zoho.

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) major Zoho Corp is helping educational institutions and government organisations cope with disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Under an ambitious ‘Swadeshi Sankalp: Made in India.

Made for India’ initiative, the Chennai-based company empowers workers with the software they need, built in India and run on Indian data centres. Company officials reckon that by using Zoho’s secure Indian data centres, educational and government institutions will inherit the company’s top-tier privacy and security practices across all products. And the icing on the cake is that most of the offerings are free for the next three months.

“The Swadeshi Sankalp initiative is one way in which we can be of service to our country, by providing relief to the education and government sectors that are in need of a secure solution,” says Sridhar Vembu, CEO and co-founder of Zoho.

After Covid-19 was declared a pandemic, Zoho launched Zoho Remotely, a remote work toolkit and offered it for free to all businesses until July 1. Currently, around 15,000 businesses globally, 18% of which are in India, are using Remotely. Zoho also launched its Small Business Emergency Subscription Assistance Programme, which has benefited around 10,000 businesses, 12% of which are in India. To ensure that people have access to the latest data about the coronavirus, Zoho has created Covid dashboards.

Zoho Classes is a new mobile app that enables schools and colleges to connect with their students online. It replaces the need for educators to deploy multiple, disintegrated apps including video conferencing tools that were originally meant for business users and are, in some cases, unsecure to use. With Zoho Classes, teachers can upload courses, broadcast live classes, share assignments under set deadlines, and collect responses on one interface. Zoho is offering Classes free to all government schools in India. For all other schools, it’s free for up to 100 students. Schools can pay Rs 250 per student, per year for additional students.

For individualised learning environments including classroom breakouts or professional training, Zoho ShowTime facilitates virtual collaborative learning and interactive events. One-click access to ShowTime within Zoho Classes will be available in the coming weeks. The online meetings and webinar app, Zoho Meeting, is available for free for three months to government bodies. Meeting allows group video calls for up to 25 participants, while other attendees can join via audio. This is currently supported for up to 100 participants. Under the Zoho Creator Covid-19 App Programme, Zoho builds app for free for non-profits and government bodies involved in patient monitoring, food distribution, etc., using Zoho Creator, a low-code application development platform.

Recently, the Jammu and Kashmir administration launched the Union Territory’s first Covid response call centre in Srinagar. ClearWire Technologies, which runs the call centre, uses Zoho Desk, a customer support software. Zoho is now extending free licences of Zoho Desk to all state governments for enabling them to help citizens.

Vembu also has a clear picture on how the pandemic will impact the business of the company. “We are talking about 30% of GDP loss in countries like US. Almost 45% of our revenue comes from the US. That will have an impact on us. However, some of the larger organisations are switching over to Zoho from other players,” he says.

The recovery is going to be prolonged and this is not only due to the pandemic itself. “Assuming the world comes back to operations tomorrow, we are still going to have lasting impact of the economic crisis and that is going to lead to consolidation in SaaS, which was already over due,” he says, adding, “We have too many players and there were issues already there. Those issues will get exposed.”

According to him, companies with strong balance sheet, ability to endure cost structure and who are not out of control in their spends are the ones who will survive this. “That has been our long term projection and that is why we remain subdued during those times. We continue to innovate, and are reorienting our products and over the course of next six months to a year you will see more innovations from us,” Vembu says.

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