At Zoholics London, Enterprise Times caught up with Craig Davies, co-founder and consultant at Target Cloud a Zoho Advanced consulting partner. Target Cloud was founded in 2014 and between its five team members has decades of experience in CRM solutions.
Thomas spent more than thirteen years at BT Global Services before leaving for sales roles outside the telecomms giant. He initially used his experience from BT Global Sales to implement CRM solutions at small business as well as sell for them.
Target Cloud is based in Norfolk with a global business according to Davies. Clients are based in Europe, the US as well across the UK. It offers consultancy, report writing, advanced support beyond which Zoho offers and development.
Who are Target Cloud?
ET asked Davies how Target Cloud came about?
Davies answered: “Whilst I was growing a small business for someone as a sales manager, I discovered the world of small business networking. I realised that there was a big opportunity out there to take CRM to the small business market. Initially I was working with three (CRM solutions). I was doing a bit of Salesforce consultancy, because it was out there and paying well. I was looking at a small provider called InTouch, almost a single owner business CRM and then Zoho down the middle. I could see the innovation coming from Zoho and four and a half years ago I decided to partner with them. About four years ago I cut out the other ones.”
Davies further elaborated on the middle ground by saying that the target market ranges from companies with 10-15 users all the way up to 500. He would consider approaching larger companies. Zoho has several that are more than a thousand.
What three words describe Target Cloud:
Thomas replied: “Innovation, because of our understanding of other businesses. If you don’t get under the skin of another business you cannot innovate. We are spoilt for choice with 45 plus apps from Zoho but without understanding the person’s business you cannot innovate, you can’t match the two of them together. To say this is the tool that is really going to help you. The innovation is marrying the two together.
“Modern, the ethos of Target Cloud is built on modern values. Which are transparency, Integrity innovation again. We change the way of doing things, not (using) traditional IT. It is purely cloud based. We do things that are mobile based, portable, accessible anywhere, that enable people to do things when and where they need to do it. It is the modern way.
“Revolutionise : If you go into a business that traditionally uses spreadsheets and paper legacy systems and they are struggling then it is a revolutionary approach. We go in and we ask the hard questions. Are you willing to give up this filing cabinet you have here that is causing you problems? Are you willing to get rid of Excel and start moving towards a more dynamic environment?”
A partner view of Zoho?
How would you describe Zoho?
“Learn, develop and fresh. It’s that culture. The whole piece of Sridhar’s vision of Zoho university of bringing people through: learn, teach and develop. Learn because its pretty much constant, if you are not keeping on top of what is coming out of Chennai. You’ve just got to, it’s a constant. They introduced new products at Zoholics, Austin.”
Those products included a new suite for eCommerce and another for marketing. Zoho is starting to build suites of apps which act as a halfway house between purchasing a single app and buying Zoho One with all 45. It is an approach that others, such as Upland have also taken recently.
How would you describe Zoholics in London?
“It’s the finest piece of networking for this product that I have ever seen. Being out in (Austin) Zoholics was like a global celebration. There was so much going on it was almost overwhelming, it was buzzing. Here, it feels like we have a UK community. This is my fourth Zoholics in London. It now feels like a networking event for clients, partners and Zoho employees to come together and just reconnect and find out what has been going on. It has got a really good local feel to it. They are delivering on both counts. Austin being that big pizzazz, massive and this being that local event.”
What would you like to see more of from Zoho in terms of product?
“Product first, I would like them to focus more on tighter integration. Making Zoho One, really Zoho One. It is a collection of 45 applications that are sometimes stitched together. Bringing those applications together is going to be key to the success of Zoho One. They need to focus on having a single database, the finance and CRM is a good example that are two databases. They have made them talk together and act like one but a common platform would bring them together.
“They have introduced Zoho Flow which is the stitching stuff to bring it all together. But it is not simple. You can see their problem; they have 45 apps. If a customer wants to integrate App number 4 with App number 12, that is one of millions of combinations with flows so that is why Zoho Flow brings it all together.”
That criticism was levelled at Zoho in other sessions. It is something that it is aware of and looking to address, but is likely to take time. ET asked Davies his view on the company and how it can improve
“In terms of the company they are getting there. I think it is all about the link with the technology powerhouse that is Chennai with the 7,000 employees there. They have implemented a global network of partners which is fantastic. We have got some really strong partners here in the UK and then we have clients.
“We need to have that flow working perfectly so that Zoho know where to point clients in the right direction to the partner. The partners to collaborate so that we know each other’s strengths and that is happening now. So that we end up with UK consultancy that just delivers Zoho for Zoho in a UK centric way.”
It sometimes feel that there has been a confused message about what Zoho is. What is the partner view? ET asked Davies does Zoho have its messaging right?
“It’s getting better. A year ago it was somewhat sporadic. You would get an enquiry that said “I’ve just come across Zoho can you help.” Now the enquiries are more, “We are thinking of investing in Zoho One. We have seen this article and it looks right for us, what do you?“ The nature of the enquiry has changed and that has come from dedicated marketing activity in this country.”
This has been helped by greater brand promotion by Zoho in the UK, according to Davies, and more articles in the press that explain more about where Zoho fits. ET asked Davies whether Zoho is an SMB tool, specific to certain verticals or should it push into the mid market.
“No I don’t think it should push into the mid-market. I think it is a great set of tools for any sector. The vertical element comes in when you do the proper customisation. For instance, if you take my 120 clients I could not tell you which sector the CRM or whichever tool is best for. Because when you customise I, it can suit any vertical. I would even go so far as to say even if CRM doesn’t fit then I have got clients where we have built from scratch using the Creator tool. What it needs is partners on board who understand the technology to deliver for that given vertical.”
Does this mean it is too customisable? Will it end up being like an early ERP solution, customised and hard to maintain? Will customers even be able to take advantage of new updates?
“I have not known Zoho introduce updates that have messed anything up. They communicate with their partners well in advance for any major updates so that we can inform our clients informed as to what is happening.
“On the business process side, you can either give someone a system that does exactly what they want and that is how they use it. Or you can give them a blank set of tools and configure it for their business. There are two ways of doing it:
“Once you can show admins in those organisations how they can configure business processes that often is the case. Show people how to do Workflows and Blueprints and let them get on with it.
“On the support side, partners are there to support there as well. Zoho provides basic support, such as how do I add a user. The partner support side can configure complex workflows and support complex business processes.”
Why Target Cloud?
Target Cloud is one of several Zoho partners as Davies inferred, so what makes it different from the others? Davies answered
“It is that real deep understanding of the business. We don’t have a huge number of clients, we don’t go for volume. We go for businesses that are a good fit for Target Cloud and you know that from the outset. They will be a growing company, they will be a good size and they will be invested in Zoho. Then they will have an understanding of what they need. That will come from implementation, migrating away from another system or away from paper and spreadsheets. They know they want someone to do their training and consultancy and that may be on site as well. Our sweet point is CRM. What I say to clients is that it is like the sun in the solar system. Start with CRM and the others are just planets revolving around it and we can bring those in.”
Enterprise Times: What does this mean
It is always fascinating to watch the people dynamics at a convention. In the sessions ET attended there were some tough questions asked. There was also an understanding that Zoho will solve the problems in due course and what people have at the price point is often far better than many alternatives. Davies reflected that wider view, an evangelist of Zoho and enthusiastic about the products and people. He was also constructively critical in a supportive way in the knowledge that Zoho will listen and are already taking corrective action.
With its focus on CRM, possibly the strongest of the suites that Zoho offers Target Cloud is in a good place to take advantage of what is a growing market. Whether the company is larger next year will be a good indicator of how successful Zoho Marketing is in the coming year and the ambitions of Target Cloud.