In business, you are only as strong as the network that supports you. To this end, Zoho recently updated us on the recent changes and growth in their Zoho Alliance Partner Program (or ZAPP). Since its inception a year and a half ago, the program has seen: new additions to the reseller program, added capability to the Zoho API and new strategic partner deals.
The growth surrounding the Zoho Alliance Partner Program will help strengthen Zoho's business and take the Zoho product line to the hosted SMB services market they are trying to corner. How has ZAPP changed through this rapid program growth?
A Focus on Resellers
Often when a business or organization takes on a new software package or system, they want the assurance of buying the new product from a local reseller. This is because the reseller will provide ongoing support and service in case implementation or maintenance issues arise. Zoho knows this and has been strengthening ties with regionally-based resellers that focus on helping companies take the necessary steps in jumping from using desktop-based applications to using Zoho's web-based model.
Zoho boasts 200+ resellers and expects the number to rise as the Software as a Service and cloud-based computing markets continue to draw in new organizations and companies.
More and More API Partners
Zoho has a solid software engineering team. However it is beneficial for today's web-based software companies to enable third-party development upon its software platform to extend and enhance the functionality of their product line. With Zoho's application programming interface (API), third parties can use Zoho products on their existing web portals and web applications. This creates a lucrative usage model where end users can sign into a partner's website and have access to Zoho-hosted applications such as Writer, Sheet, Show and Zoho Blogs.
The third party partner websites benefit because they can re-sell the Zoho service or merely offer their customers Zoho utilities using their website's unique look and feel.
Extending Zoho's Reach with Partners and Alliances
There are certain areas of functionality that Zoho wishes to provide to its customers, but doesn't wish to implement or develop. To this end, ZAPP has built relationships with technology partners to extend Zoho's feature list. For example, Echosign is a company that is working to provide secure digital signatures to use within Zoho Writer.
Zoho also reports future alliances with a mobile partner and an audio conferencing partner. Theoretically, a mobile partnership translates into the ability for mobile phone users to retrieve and perhaps edit Zoho Writer documents or similar functionality.
Aside from technology partners to enhance the functionality of Zoho's products, the company has also been working to broaden the reach of its customer base through strategic alliances. Through ISV and service providers, Zoho has deals it will announce in the near future that will mean more customers on the Zoho hosted application platform.
Zoho seems to be doing two things right: continuing to innovate with their software platform and seeking opportunities to bring new customers online. As they go head to head with other hosted software vendors such as Google and Microsoft, we hope to see Zoho thrive as competition is good for everyone involved in this new SasS marketplace.