Has Zoho won the online productivity apps arms race?

by admin on September 23, 2008

in General,Innovation

If I am to believe my good friend Jeff Nolan then Zoho has won the office productivity arms race. Jeff attributes this to the tipping point ‘win’ of 400,000 GE seats. Jeff quotes from WebGuild where an un-named GE person allegedly says:

A GE spokesperson who did not want to be identified said their decision was based around issues of personal and corporate privacy, functionality, support, features and Zoho won hands down. The spokesperson said the Google application was intrusive and the ads started to become a nusiance. I tested both applications today. Google Spreadsheets was a disaster. I have not noticed any major change with it over the past year. However I would encourage you to try both products to get a feel before you choose one.

I say allegedly because spokespeople are usually identified, even when they come from corporate PR. But there is more. My colleague Oliver Marks is adamant that webguild is completely wrong on this, asserting that:

For the record and as Dr Sukh Grewal has clearly outlined, no decision has been made on Google Docs, Zoho or any other vendor at this time, but a rigorous evaluation is taking place.

Someone, somewhere has this muddled and I’m inclined to think the truth sits somewhere in the middle with a bias towards Zoho. I listened to the recording made of Dr. Grewel’s presentation at Office 2.0 and what he actually says (at around the 16-17 minute mark) is:

“In the last couple of months we have started a collaboration with Zoho…We are integrating it right in there…and we can save some money on Microsoft licenses. I think some of us are interested in that.”

No-one at Zoho is denying webguild’s claims – it is way too good PR. Regardless of the long term reality, the fact a company like GE is evaluating/collaborating with Zoho tells me that the office productivity saas story has been validated. This is a crucially important for saas as office productivity suites lie at the heart of what drives professionals’ businesses.

For an added bonus, I recommend watching the whole 43 minute video. It’s a huge investment of time but the lessons that can be drawn speak directly to the way I believe practitioners can be incredibly effective and deliver value back to clients. Put another way – if it’s good enough for efficiency obsessed GE then it’s good enough for me.

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jeff nolan September 23, 2008 at 3:12 pm

If you read my post again you will see that I made two points, the first being that google spreadsheet sucks and the second that Zoho is "a remarkable company". Neither of those claims depends on the supposed GE deal.

Zoho, IMO, is the leader in this category because of the portfolio and quality of products they have delivered and the success they have had growing a user base without the name "Google" or "Microsoft" in front of them. Users have declared this company a winner, not good PR.

As for GE and Webguild, I don't know where the truth is but suspect it is somewhere in the middle as you suggest.

Dennis Howlett September 23, 2008 at 3:17 pm

That's true Jeff – I was taking a specific angle. Like all op-ed folks :)

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