Zoho SaaS Perfect Solution for Bringing IT to Emerging Market SMBs

Yesterday I gave a talk on how companies, specifically SMBs (Small to Medium Businesses) can now take advantage of IT quickly and easily with SaaS and cloud computing.

IT, specially business systems or enterprise software, have traditionally been out of reach for SMBs of its complexity and high cost. With SaaS,
systems like collaboration software, databases, and transactional applications such as ERP and CRM are now made easily available in ways that are easily understood. For one thing, SaaS applications do not require complex IT infrastructure such as routers, firewalls and servers. To use SaaS apps, users require nothing more than an Internet-connected PC or even a mobile device to start using the applications. Another is that they are usually billed on a fixed monthly amount, according to what customers need or consume–similar to utility services such as power and water. SaaS apps are also usually designed from the get-go as tools for multi-user collaboration. This allows for improved efficiency and smoother coordination among company workgroups, departments and teams.

Now when people talk about SaaS the first thing people often ask is security, and the event where I spoke was no different. People are usually apprehensive about putting their company data into the intangible, amorphous Internet “cloud” so to speak. I made a point about how people have been comfortably uploading private data online with apps such as Google mail, Hotmail and Yahoo Mail for years. Many have found it to be even better and more reliable than their corporate mail servers (I know of several companies who use Gmail as a backup for their mail systems on their own domain). Over the past few months, even become comfortable uploading with uploading sensitive personal data on the Internet with social networking sites such as Facebook and Friendster.

Now despite this, some key issues remain. Of course one is Internet access. To use SaaS, companies should have an “always on” Inernet connection. Integration with legacy apps can also be a challenge, as well as using SaaS for high volume, fast throughput, quick response type applications such as Point-of-Sale systems in a fast-paced retail environment. Another challenge is just simply navigating the abundant, sometimes confusing array of choices available in the SaaS market.

Good thing there is Zoho. Zoho is a SaaS company launched in 2005 that offers a wide range of online software. They offer everything from personal productivity apps such as e-mail, word processing, spreadsheet, wiki software; to business systems such as customer relationship management. All in all, Zoho has over 20 productivity and collaboration apps, all for prices that, by US and traditional software standards, are dirt cheap–but for emerging markets such as India (where Zoho came from) and the Philippines are just right.

For the whole lot of Zoho’s business applications, it costs a mere $50 per user per year or roughly the same amount one would spend for prepaid cellphone load locally in a year. By contrast, the Professional Version of Microsoft Office, sells for as much as a months to two months’ salary for most Filipinos.

Now cheap doesnt mean poor quality. So far have been very happy with using Zoho as an end-user. The breadth of applications is simply unmatched by any SaaS vendor, including Microsoft, Google or Salesforce. Its simple and easy enough to use for SMBs and priced just right. I also traveled to India and have seen their operations and have met their management (full disclosure: their parent company Adventnet is a partner of the company where I work). While there, I was impressed by their culture and their strategy, which gave me the impression that they really are into this business for the long haul–which as a partner and reseller gives peace of mind. They also have a 200 strong software engineering talent bench (with an additional 800 more from their sister company)–a number that easily beats many pure play SaaS vendors (including Salesforce.com?) in terms of technical resources.

Find out more about SaaS and Zoho today. Contact me via my LinkedIn page if you want to find out more or follow me on Twitter (webwonker).


Spoke at the 3rd Mini Web Design Conference

I spoke last January 22 at the 3rd Mini Web Design Conference held at the Cosmopoint International Institute of Technology (CIIT). Went with officemates Rowel, Jorge, Rubie and Elvin.

Spoke a bit about this new CMS I have been playing with called Concrete5. Was able to give the attendees, who numbered about 40+ (not so mini after all =), an overview of what Concrete5 is all about, its features, a bit of history, and what makes it unique. Afterwards I gave a demo–converting an existing site I had to the CMS engine in less than 10 minutes (with a one minute pause as I lost my voice in the middle of my presentation). Mia Sereno, who I think is one of the organizers of the event, has a very nice visual summary of the event (which she calls sketchnotes) that is really worth checking out here.

Hopefully this will help people give more choices for tools to use on their web design projects, and I think I have been successful getting at least one convert.

Other speakers there were:

  • Alfredo Palconit (http://alfredo.palconit.com and http://webdesigner.ph) – who gave an entertaining talk on his experiences with SEO and Web Design
  • Regnard Raquedan (http://www.raquedan.com) – (a guy who I keep bumping into in conferences and talks, most likely because he is that rare breed of developer/designer who can articulate well his thoughts) who gave an AIM/MBA-level talk on Pricing Your Web Design Work
  • Jojo Esposa (http://deafphilippines.wordpress.com) – who is an expert on accessibility with his projects who gave a talk on How to Write a Good ALT Text
  • JP dela Torre (http://www.pigmata.com) – who seems like another smart and articulate guy (and entrepreneur as well) who gave an insightful talk on Overview on front-end optimization and best practices
  • Eugene Alvin Villar (http://vaes9.codedgraphic.com) – who introduced us to blogging platform TextPattern

The conference finished a bit late but good thing there was free food. Went there to learn new things and hopefully get some of the attendees to join our organization.

3rd Mini Web Design Conference

For those who haven’t heard yet… This is the 3rd Mini Web Design Conference organized by the PWDO

WHAT: <form> function() & .class3rd Mini Web Design Conference

WHERE: 5th flr. CTTM Square Bldg, Timog cor Tomas Morato, QC. (view map)

WHEN: January 22, 2009, 7:00PM


Who’s talking and what are they talking about

With a little help from

Sign up NOW and meet us

Will talk at Web 2.0 Digital Filipino Workshop

Will talk at the Digital Filipino-organized Web 2.0 workshop at the National Computer Center this November 13th. The workshop will be conducted at the National Computer Center.

My talk will be about how the Internet and specifically the newer developments happening with the Web (collectively called Web 2.0) is helping enable greater collaboration among individuals and at the same time improve their competitive advantage in an increasingly flat world. The talk was really inspired by a book I had just read called The World is Flat (A Brief History of the 21st Century) by Tom Friedman.

Talked at the 1st Ayala IT Summit

I was invited to speak and be one of the speakers and round table panelitsts at the recently conluded (and 1st ever) Ayala IT Summit last October 1. The event was a conference cum tech update session for the CIOs and IT Managers of the different companies under the Ayala Group. The Ayala group is of course on of the largest conglomerates locally–and includes such companies as Ayala Land, Ayala Systems Technologies, Globe Telecomm, Manila Water and many others.

I gave a talk on the use of Open Source applications that had traditionally been the domain of enterprise vendors such as ERP and CRM. I had given a similar talk before at the Philippine Open Source Conference held a year before but I felt it appropriate to the audience at Ayala since there had been a special focus on open source.

I was invited to be a panelist as well at the roundtable discussion which was a highlight of the event. I was in good company with known open source technopreneur Winston Damarillo; Albert Pangilinan, head of Platform Technologies and Services over at Microsoft Philippines; Chris Stolk, President of STAG Philippines; and Mr. Teong Eng Guan, regional head of Red Hat ASEAN.

Overall a good event–would be interesting to find out how the guys from Ayala found it interesting.

Will Be Speaking At The Philippine OsCon 2006

I will be speaking tomorrow at the Philippine Open Source Conference at the Shangri-la EDSA Plaza Hotel. I will be talking about the use of Open Source in the Enterprise and how Open Source developers are now building applications for real-world business needs. I will be giving a high-level overview of leading open source projects out there for customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), Business Intelligence (BI), content management (CMS) and others.

About the Conference
The Open Source Conference and Expo will focus on Open Source Operating Systems and Applications for the business and enterprise user. Organized by Imperium Technology, Inc. in cooperation with Media Focus International, Inc. the event will be held on September 26-28, 2006, with exhibits, plenary sessions, hands-on sessions, tutorials, and conferences at the Shangri-la EDSA Plaza Hotel.

The theme for the conference this year is “Ready for Change, In Tune with Enterprise Needs”. Tracks include topics on Business Applications, Programming and Technical issues, and a specialized track on Voice and Telephony. Conference speakers include Open Source Experts, Enterprises using Open Source Technology, Industry Experts, and Open Source Pioneers.

About Jan
Jan is an experienced IT Consultant who has lead several project engagements in delivering business, brand, and technology consulting services to clients ranging from prominent multi-national corporations, small and medium-sized businesses, government agencies and non-profits.

He is currently a Senior Consultant at IT Group, Inc. where he is responsible for overseeing the deployment of best-of-breed, open source enterprise applications in Customer Relationship Management and Knowledge Management for clients. Prior to that, he was one of the founders of Ecommsite Solutions�a systems integration and technology consultancy. His expertise is in systems design and implementation, IT information architecture, and IT project management.

Jan has a degree in Business Administration and Accounting from the University of the Philippines and is a Licensed CPA. He has had training and holds certifications in IT Project Management. He is currently taking up his Masters Degree at the Asian Institute of Management.

Philippine Open Source Conference
Ready for Change, In Tune with Enterprise Needs

Speaker: Jan Pabellon
Topic: The Open Source Alternative: Using Open Source Business Applications in the Enterprise
Date: October 3, 2006
Time: 10.30 to 11.45 am
Track: Business Applications Track
Location: EDSA Shangrila Plaza Hotel