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Managing Growth and Data with Zoho: A Conversation with OP360’s Josh Corson – Six Five On the Road

Managing Growth and Data with Zoho: A Conversation with OP360's Josh Corson - Six Five On the Road

On this episode of the Six Five On the Road, we are joined by OP360‘s Josh Corson, SVP, Data Science & Analytics, for a conversation on how OP360 manages growth and leverages data with Zoho for optimal business performance.

Our discussion covers:

  • The role of Zoho in OP360’s rapid growth and scalability
  • Insights into data management strategies that drive business decisions
  • Challenges and triumphs in integrating Zoho with OP360’s existing systems
  • Future plans for leveraging technology to sustain business growth
  • The impact of data analytics on improving customer experience and service delivery

Learn more at OP360.

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Disclaimer: The Six Five Webcast is for information and entertainment purposes only. Over the course of this webcast, we may talk about companies that are publicly traded and we may even reference that fact and their equity share price, but please do not take anything that we say as a recommendation about what you should do with your investment dollars. We are not investment advisors and we ask that you do not treat us as such.

Transcript:

Cory Johnson: And we’re back at The Six Five on the road here at the Zoholics Conference in Austin, Texas. There will be no cowboy hats, there will be no boots.

Lisa Martin: Aw.

Cory Johnson: There will be much talk about software and data and-

Lisa Martin: I think we could merge them. We merged them last night. I was wearing a cowboy hat.

Cory Johnson: I’m not talking about last night. We got a great guest.

Lisa Martin: We do, Lisa Martin here with Cory Johnson. We’ve got Josh Corson here from OP360, a customer of Zoho’s. He’s the SVP of data science and analytics. Josh, great to have you on the program. Thanks for joining us.

Josh Corson: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Lisa Martin: So, give the audience a little bit of a backstory on OP360. I know that you’re business process outsourcing, but- Exactly.

Josh Corson: Great question. We are full service outsourcing shops, anything that a client would want to potentially outsource. We do a lot of customer service, back office functions, AI operations, just any team that a company is looking to get more efficient with, find a partner that can maybe do it for a little bit more cost affordable approach, we’ll build custom teams to do that. We have 10 locations across three continents. Most of our staff is in the Philippines.

Lisa Martin: Okay.

Josh Corson: And then we have an operation down in Colombia as well, and then India, really cool-

Lisa Martin: And there’s a lot of growth. I was reading on the website nearly 60% year-on-year growth over the last four years?

Josh Corson: Yeah, so when some of the other executive leadership team had joined the company back in 2019, we were about 500 staff, we’re now close to 5,000.

Lisa Martin: Wow.

Josh Corson: Yeah, so been great growth over the last five or six years and Zoho, I think, has been a great tool for us to manage a lot of that growth.

Cory Johnson: So, it’s interesting, because it sounds like you are in a position to go to companies and see what tools they’ve got and to standardize around Zoho is an interesting choice. What do you guys get out of that?

Josh Corson: For us, we’re not as much doing the collaboration cross-company with Zoho as much. It’s more on the internal operations, managing all of our internal processes.

Cory Johnson: Well, you probably see it all. You’ve got your choices of anything with Zoho.

Josh Corson: Well, so our journey with Zoho, between myself and a couple of the other leaders, we worked at a previous company together where we had some processes that were a little bit challenging. We weren’t really streamlining any of our data. We couldn’t report on it and we onboarded a small team of about 20 people to Zoho CRM. At that company, and this was back in like 2011, so totally different landscape, Zoho was very different, but we love just the customization, the cost versus some of the alternatives, and things like that. And so, we continued to grow that out by the time I left the company. We had close to 800 people on the Zoho CRM tool that we had built out. And so when we came over here to this new company, same story, a lot of processes, similar types of challenges, a lot of paper documents.

Lisa Martin: Silos, I imagine.

Josh Corson: Silos, for sure, no consistent story across the business, something we’re still working to resolve, but Zoho has helped us just improve that significantly. And again, the customization, the cost, and then just how all these tools talk to each other. That’s been the biggest thing for us.

Lisa Martin: Another thing I saw on the website, that openness and collaboration are the foundations of OP360’s client success. And I saw just that synergy with Zoho, what they do, what they talk about, but what they’re delivering. Give us a little bit of an inside peek in terms… I know you’re using Analytics, CRM, what are some of the products that you’re using that are really helping drive the business forward?

Josh Corson: I think Analytics and CRM definitely, we’re highly data-driven. You all, that’s my background in BI and analytics, so I love the capabilities that come out of the box with Zoho Analytics, and then the ability to also to use API’s and things like that to get the data out to other tools as well, has been great for us. I think organizationally though, the biggest central hub that we use is Zoho People, the HR management system. We’ve got every person when they come into the company, gets a profile built for them, and we manage our learning management system, all of our internal company announcements. It’s really like the hub where everything that’s happening at the company is shared, so big-time focus on managing that tool.

Cory Johnson: Does the ability to move into new apps, because it’s somewhere and say, “Oh, you can move up to something else or move over to try something new,” do you utilize that a lot? Has it changed your processes within the company?

Josh Corson: Yeah, absolutely. I can think of several examples. Well, I think a simple one that we’ve actually executed on was once we got everyone on Zoho, people then onboarding to Zoho Recruit, just automating all of the processes as it relates to the whole talent acquisition process, and then how that again, seamlessly integrates into Zoho People. One of our big, I think, value adds versus some of the bigger competitors that we are up against and a lot of these RFPs and things like that is our ability to hire large teams very quickly, so recruit with just the ability to automate. We’ve been utilizing some of the resume parsing and different AI capabilities from within there and using that to our advantage to bring in large groups of staff to be able to support these lines of business growth very quickly.

Lisa Martin: Talking about talent attraction and the speed with which you can bring on large groups, it lends me to think that one of the benefits that a OP360 is getting is also talent retention. As you’re setting out, you’ve got a foundation that really allows employees to communicate, to collaborate, to have that visibility.

Josh Corson: Totally, attrition, I guess the opposite side of retention, is kind of one of our biggest kind of markers in terms of like, “Hey, if we’re going to build a team with you guys, we want to make sure we have staff that wants to be there, that’s excited to do their job. That stays there for a long time.”

Cory Johnson: And we don’t have to keep training new people.

Josh Corson: Yeah, exactly. So, we don’t have to keep training new people. So, we have a heavy focus on that. Zoho People, we’ve built out these learning paths within the LMS within Zoho People-

Cory Johnson: LMS?

Josh Corson: Learning management system, so yeah.

Cory Johnson: I’m still learning. No, it’s a good question. We’ve got a six acronym limit per interview. We’re over the limit.

Lisa Martin: Have we hit it yet?

Cory Johnson: We just got there.

Josh Corson: It’s easy to forget how many of these acronyms get used across all these companies, but anyways, creating those career paths, just getting people set on a path to be able to grow their career, want to be there, retain, to your point, and we use Zoho.

Lisa Martin: What are your opportunities as a second time Zoho customer? You brought them over from a previous job as you explained. What are some of your opportunities to help influence the roadmap, the direction it’s going? And we saw four great announcements this morning on CRM for everyone, collaboration, data privacy. Are you able to influence the roadmap, the R&D, the investments, and the direction the product is going?

Cory Johnson: And really listen to the customer is what she’s asking you.

Josh Corson: Yeah, absolutely. We have a great relationship with the Zoho support team, because we are frequent users of the support tool, and we have been able to influence… A lot of the times it’s bugs and things that we uncover just by really beating up the tool and finding little issues, but we found them to be very responsive, proactive, and really they do listen to the customers, absolutely.

Cory Johnson: One of the things that’s unique about this company is they really do put their philosophy of business and life out front. Some companies have it behind, some companies have it somewhere, but I wonder what that’s like for you as a customer where at some point I just want the software to work. On the other point, you’ve got a company that really does have some strongly voiced values.

Josh Corson: I feel like you mentioned at the beginning of the interview, we’re a company that similarly strives to have strong values and use that as our guiding principle in how we operate. So, I think it’s great. At the end of the day, if the software doesn’t work, that’s a different problem, but I feel like the values and stuff that Zoho shares, and like I said, the proactiveness, and the ability to fix things that are wrong, and then the innovation constantly, it seems like pushing the envelope, especially since I’ve seen it coming back to Zoho for the second round, it feels like they’re just really pushing forward and trying to be a real innovator and disruptor in the space.

Lisa Martin: How many years has it been since you first started using Zoho?

Josh Corson: So, it was 2011 and I left that company in 2014, so it almost a 10-year gap between coming back to Zoho and I was-

Cory Johnson: Is it really different?

Josh Corson: It had a lot of the same principles that I remembered, which just again, the customization, the idea of the low code, no code, not having to have a giant team of developers to make changes. That was all still in place, but the features were just significantly improved, more integrations to third-party tools. So, it had definitely significantly changed.

Lisa Martin: And now in the last 18 months with the rise of GenAI and everyone is on the AI bandwagon and boat, and trying to figure out… What do you think of Zoho’s AI strategy? Do you know much about it? What are some of your thoughts about how they’re approaching it and doing so in a secure way for the benefit of their customers?

Josh Corson: I think the native integration of AI to different software platforms is such a benefit to the customer, not having to build your own custom stuff or go to a third-party app and try to integrate it and the additional costs that come along with that. So, I’m very excited to see all the integration that the team is working on. I had a chance to talk to some folks yesterday about some of those things that are coming and I think it’ll be a great benefit to us. We’re in our business, certainly very hyper-focused on AI and kind of what that’s going to do to change the customer service space. So, we’re looking to leverage it as much as we can, really walk the walk, not just talk the talk, and so excited to see what-

Cory Johnson: And do you find that customers also are asking different kinds of questions or new excitement about… You’ve mentioned BI, back to our acronyms, but business intelligence, but the customers are thinking more about process because AI is giving them tools that they don’t know how to use yet, but maybe it’ll solve some problem or to help them do something differently? You can say no.

Josh Corson: Well, yeah, I guess maybe not specifically, but maybe this is a related point. I think there’s still a lot of, from what I’ve seen, just hesitation. People want to start using AI, but they don’t know exactly where to start.

Lisa Martin: Right.

Josh Corson: And they want to make sure they’re making a smart investment. Most companies can’t just experiment and spend millions of dollars on different AI tools, so being able to measure the effectiveness of what a tool can bring, use a scientific process, measure it with BI to be able to say, “Hey, we have a control group, and a group that’s using the tool and seeing what the impact is,” I think those two are certainly very intertwined.

Lisa Martin: I would think so. What do you see on the horizon? Obviously, if you’re a Zoho veteran, you’re probably a Zoholics veteran. This is my first Zoholics, but what are some of the things you see with what they announced this morning, everything almost is generally available now, that you see Zoho helping OP360 achieve in the next six to 12 months to the long-term?

Josh Corson: It’s interesting. We’ve got a lot of stuff on our roadmap that wasn’t necessarily the things that were announced this morning. I’m certainly interested in the CRM side to see how we can grow our business into that space. We don’t have a huge footprint in CRM. We’ve got about-

Cory Johnson: That’s interesting.

Josh Corson: We’ve got about 30 people. We’ve got a very small team.

Cory Johnson: Because it’s one of the prime use cases for most people for Zoho.

Lisa Martin: Correct.

Josh Corson: Yeah, well, and that’s how we got into Zoho at the previous company. We’ve just got a small sales and marketing team. One of our business strategies is very low overhead. So, we just don’t have a ton of people that have the use case for CRM, but maybe that’ll change. We’ve talked about getting more of our operational folks in there, doing more actual customer relationship management, like the tool’s supposed to do for existing customers. We don’t really use it as much for existing customers, which I think is probably a little backwards. We’re all using it for the sales and prospecting process. So, I see benefit there for sure, and again, just the general addition of all these AI–

Cory Johnson: And you can open down the stack depending on what your needs are.

Josh Corson: Yeah, exactly, totally.

Lisa Martin: And they say they’ve been very transparent with pricing, but you did a great job of explaining the challenges that you’ve had now at multiple organizations and different use cases and applications of Zoho. And I also hear a lot of cultural synergies, which I imagine between both companies, which is incredibly important for your employees to be empowered to do their jobs, which serves the customer. So, those kind of tangible, intangible benefits are kind of coming, no pun intended, kind of 360.

Josh Corson: That’s very nice. Yeah, absolutely. Again, I think our chief administrative officer always likes to say, “If it’s not in Zoho, it didn’t happen.” So, it’s kind of how we operate with all these different processes that we’ve gone through Zoho.

Cory Johnson: Great stuff.

Lisa Martin: Josh, thank you so much for joining us on the program, and talking about the use cases that you see, the opportunities, your vision of AI, and what you’re going to be doing next with Zoho. We appreciate it. We’ll have to have you back on.

Josh Corson: Yeah, great. Thanks.

Cory Johnson: Thanks, man. All right, we have more of Six Five on the road from Zoholics here in Austin, Texas right after this.

Author Information

Cory Johnson is the Futurum’s Chief Market Strategist and the host of the Drill Down podcast.

His peripatetic career has seen him in prominent roles as a hedge fund portfolio manager and investor, technology journalist and broadcaster. Fundamentally he’s an entrepreneur -- helping to start media companies such as TheStreet.com, the Industry Standard, Slam (the world’s best-selling basketball magazine) and Vibe. He was CNBC’s first Silicon Valley correspondent and later helped create the TV show Bloomberg West for Bloomberg TV and the radio show and podcast Bloomberg Advantage. He was a senior executive at the blockchain startup Ripple, a portfolio manager for Kingsford Capital and a principal at the Forensic Research Group.

Johnson is also an advisor to Braintrust, C3.ai, Prolly AI, Provenance Bio, Stringr and serves as a delegate to the Episcopal Diocese of California.

Lisa Martin is a Silicon Valley-based technology correspondent that has been covering technologies like enterprise iPaaS, integration, automation, infrastructure, cloud, storage, and more for nearly 20 years. She has interviewed nearly 1,000 tech executives, like Michael Dell and Pat Gelsinger, on camera over many years as a correspondent.

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