How to make Zoho a business’s operating system

How to make Zoho a business’s operating system

During ZohoDay 2022, I had the chance to have a longer conversation with Adi Mula, founder and CEO of Foodhub.

If you do not want to read too much but prefer watching the edited interview, you can do so here.

Similar to GrubHub and DoorDash, Foodhub allows residents of the UK, India, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, and Malaysia, the US and some more countries to order food to be delivered from a variety of local restaurants; unlike those other sites, Foodhub does not charge service fees. Foodhub currently has about 1,100 employees. Most of them are using Zoho products in one way or another and many use multiple Zoho products.

Foodhub started its Zoho journey with the goal of simplifying processes and to be able to provide every team with simple and easy to use tools that will help them do their jobs.  Originally, Foodhub worked with a set of interconnected, yet overly complicated applications. This journey started with implementing Zoho CRM because this was where the pain was biggest in this area. 

The sales teams in the various countries have different needs, yet the business needs them use a common foundation. The old solution did not support this. One of the problems that were caused by this was that Foodhub used huge Excel sheets to support its sales process. Besides the obvious complexity, this also caused a GDPR risk, as these sheets contained lots of personal data that could have easily be shared online.

Moving to Zoho CRM immediately solved this problem by enabling model processes that solved the needs of the different regions while implementing an adequate security and permission model.

Migrating to Zoho has caused Foodhub surprisingly few issues. The main reasons for this are that there is always good enough out of the box functionality that supports the business, in combination with a now rush implementation approach that rolls out new functionality in a gradual way instead of going for a big bang. Foodhub moves fast, yet in an iterative way, refining the implementation until it is in a shape that is good enough to take the next steps. In doing so, the team was able to overcome the natural change management challenge that every company faces: People do not want change.

This also helps Foodhub cover all bases. No one can think of everything beforehand, and then one can find needful features in the applications, too. Adi observes that “about the time you get to a certain stage halfway or even more through the implementation, you’ve covered most of the essential things“. 

The third success factor is that Zoho is easy to implement and that, whenever there is a need for support, Zoho itself and a good implementation partner are very beneficial in the rare cases the internal team gets stuck or when speed needed to be prioritized higher.

Case in point is Foodhub’s migration of all its 1,100 employees from GMail to Zoho Mail. This is an endeavor that is daunting at best and has the potential of seriously disrupting any business. Adi says “I worried about that. I thought it was going to go horribly wrong because it was a big task to move 1,100 people over. I was concerned, to day the least“.

In the end, the migration went very smoothly, with the help of Zoho and the implementation partner. The biggest problem was making sure that all employees remembered their passwords. In Adi’s assessment Zoho mail is not far from GMail; it essentially does everything that Google does, and he sees GMail as a leader. In his eyes, this migration pays certainly off for a bigger company that already has a Zoho subscription. Mail is also part of an integrated ecosystem. He doesn’t need to leave mail to accomplish tasks in this ecosystem. Like, approving an expense report. That works right out of the mail. 

Similarly, Cliq, which in his eyes combines the best from Slack and Whatsapp.

All this sounds almost too good to be true. Foodhub is obviously a demanding, yet very happy client.

That means, I really needed to dig hard to learn about things that do not work for Foodhub. 

At the end of the day, there are a few topics – need to be. This is not surprising, as every software is a continuous work in progress and Zoho cannot be the one-for-all for everyone (yet?), even with the objective of becoming the operating system for businesses. And Zoho’s core market is not the enterprise although the company certainly moves upmarket.

Adis biggest functional concern is currently the finance module. This is where he sees most upside for his own business. Currently looking at Zoho’s subscription and invoicing functionalities, he sees that he “could do a lot more on the finance side“. The modules are there, but in his opinion not yet mature enough to support a business with Foodhub’s international footprint. But then again, Adi maintains that “they seem to be doing good on what they plan to release“. The calendar. Same thing. In his eyes, “it needs a bit of work” but then this is already in progress with him getting a preview soon. 

Another bug bear is actually Zoho’s conference solution. Why? Because Foodhub is a very distributed organization. And because it is not as good as Zoom This is quite a tall order to achieve. After all, Zoom is the industry gold standard. 

Lastly, Adi wishes to have more opportunities to talk to developers, product managers and fellow customers to learn and exchange information. While there are such events, they are still too far in between. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if this topic is already on the roadmap, too.