We’ve covered some of Zoho’s productivity applications – such as Zoho Writer and Zoho Creator – in the past. If you look only at these applications, Zoho seems to be a competitor in the online office space, facing off against such alternatives as Google Documents.
But there’s another face to Zoho: they’re also working at becoming an outsourced IT department for small and (increasingly) medium businesses: the traditional SMB sector. That’s where today’s launch of Zoho People fits in. Zoho People offers software-as-a-service for the human resources department, handing recruiting, hiring, and general employee tracking. At the moment, it’s in free beta for up to 10 users, with final pricing not yet set, as well as a demo that you can try without registration.
Zoho People is clearly overkill if you have only a few employees; it’s aimed at companies who have 30, 50, or more employees and a continuing string of job openings to keep track of. It offers things like employee files, workflow tracking of the hiring process, travel requests, employee announcements, multiple levels of security, and an employee portal. You can easily extend it to include whatever forms your company uses for employees, or to customize the existing forms (People is built on top of Zoho Creator‘s database functionality).
And that’s where the potential web worker opportunity comes in. Let’s face it, most of us aren’t working as the HR director for an organization with 100 employees. But by the same token, the target market for this application – and Zoho’s other mid-level business offering Zoho CRM – is made up of people who may not be comfortable with things like online form design and workflow maintenance. Even though companies pay Zoho for the use of Zoho CRM (and ultimately Zoho People, after it’s launched), they may be quite willing to pay a consultant to handle the customization for them, instead of getting lost in something that isn’t their core business.
In fact, as software-as-a-service and online business offerings become more prominent, this is a generally promising niche for web workers to be in. People who can understand and tweak these increasingly-complex and flexible offerings will be in demand by those who just want to use them to get their work done. The more full-featured online products become, the more opportunity there is for offering training and support services around them, even if you never need the core product for your own work.