Long before the pandemic hit, productivity and collaboration software vendor Zoho was espousing transnational localism, a philosophy that has served it well during COVID-19.
What the heck is transnational localism? It’s another way of saying “think globally, act locally,” and Zoho has been acting locally for much of its quarter-century history. Although the company is headquartered in Austin, Texas, its chief executive officer is hunkered down at his farm near Chennai, India, where the company’s international headquarters is located.
During the pandemic, it has opened 15 spoke offices around the world that can each house 20 – 40 people, mainly in small centres, allowing employees to work nearer their homes rather than having to commute, and it is looking to open even more.
Globalization has bitten us hard
Zoho’s Canadian evangelist, Chandrashekar LSP, noted that in Canada, globalization has bitten us hard.
“2020 demonstrated in telling ways that globalization was under tremendous stress. We need the local capability to be resilient,” he said in an interview. “Opportunities are only for people who have access depending on their location. That has become the reality of today’s world. And that’s where we want to swim against the tide because we strongly believe that all these systems have been put in place, but what if we can actually start creating opportunities in those places. Being transnational is about being connected and sharing the knowledge and have a shared culture.”
When opportunities are local, people can participate in their communities, and with the penetration of technology such as broadband, working locally is possible. He said that many of the spoke office locations in India were employee-driven; staff members got together and decided on a spot, and the company gave them a free hand to set it up.
“It was a very organic process,” he said. “It was a very participative initiative as well. It was not like the HR team went out scouting for place. We just delegated the whole thing.”
Zoho Canada established
After many years serving the Canadian market from the U.S., Zoho has established an entity in Canada, and as of April 5, its offerings have been priced in Canadian dollars.
In keeping with its preference for smaller centres, it has decided to establish its first local office in Cornwall, Ontario, where Zoho will have access to a bilingual workforce, a good talent pool, good schools, affordable living, and access to nature, as well as access to an internet backbone and international airports. Zoho is also establishing a Canadian data centre, which was announced for last year but delayed by the pandemic.
The company’s product suite continues to evolve.
This week, Zoho launched a new version of its expense reporting software, Zoho Expense, that is designed to help mid-market businesses recovering from the pandemic’s effects. It offers integration with Sabre’s GetThere travel platform, better controls, a built-in chat, an AI-powered virtual assistant, and customization capabilities. It is available now with three subscription plans: Free, Premium, and Enterprise.
In response to demand from its larger customers, Zoho has also launched the Zoho Enterprise Business Solutions Group, which will work both directly with customers and in consultation with its partners.