India has strong and inherent advantages when it comes to SaaS: Hiver

The last couple of months, in particular, have been pivotal for India’s SaaS market. On the positive side, organizations have continued to invest in technology, in turn benefitting various SaaS companies.

Hiver offers a Saas-enabled email collaboration solution, and given the current scenarios, the company’s services have gained heightened popularity among its clients and prospects across the world. Hiver currently caters to over 1,500 clients across 30 countries (US, UK, Australia, and Germany among others).

Some of the companies that Hiver services are Airbnb, Pinterest, Harvard University, Hubspot, Vacasa (a top vacation rentals company in the US) and ExtremeReach (a leading video ad-tech provider).

Niraj Ranjan Rout, Founder and CEO of Hiver, tells us more. Excerpts from an interview:

DQ: What is the current state of the SaaS industry in India,and how is the industry coping with the on-going crisis?

Niraj Ranjan Rout: It is exciting to know that the number of SaaS startups in India has almost tripled in the last five years, and this number is only expected to grow further. On top of that, India currently accounts for about 2.6 percent of the global SaaS share.

What’s really encouraging in all of this is that the first generation of Indian SaaS companies such as Freshworks, Zohoand Wingify has already proved that we can effectively sell software to the world remotely. Geographical barriers aren’t a constraint, provided the products and buying experience are good.

It’s also important to note that India has a few strong, inherent advantages when it comes to SaaS, in the form of great engineering talent, lower hiring costs, and a large, readily available talent pool of customer support representatives. This allows us to provide quick, high-quality, multi-channel support to customers and gives us an edge over other countries.

The last couple of months, in particular, have been pivotal for India’s SaaS market. On the positive side, organizations have continued to invest in technology, in turn benefitting various SaaS companies. In the short term, however, companies cut down on spending and became a bit conservative. That said, digital transformation will be necessary to recover and accelerate growth in the long-term. This is why I believe next year will be even more crucial for the SaaS market – with more and more organizations investing in digital transformation solutions.

DQ: How are SaaS startups now turning inwards and looking at India as a big market?

Niraj Ranjan Rout: With an increase in digital transformation in India, many companies – small- and medium-sized – are realising that offline operations are slowly becoming redundant and that business continuity is more important than ever. This is one of the main reasons cloud solutions are gaining momentum here.

India is realising the need for software that helps with ease of doing business. Startups and large corporates together are moving towards subscription-based revenue models, which in turn enhances business growth across industries.

With the onset of the pandemic, companies that were planning to undertake the digital transformation in the future or over a period of time, have now been compelled to do so overnight. Remote working is also making it necessary for companies to adopt digital transformation and move into the cloud, so that it is easy for employees to work online.

DQ: How can collaboration tools help overcome the challenges of remote working and help teams function better?

Niraj Ranjan Rout: We all know about the challenges associated with remote working. You can’t head over to your colleague’s desk and pick their brains on something. You can’t have a quick team huddle or gather your team for a brainstorming session. This is where collaboration tools can help remote teams work together efficiently, and make up for the lack of all those face-to-face communications.

Over the past few months, we’ve seen companies make use of various collaboration tools to overcome work-from-home challenges. On one hand, you have video conferencing tools like Zoom and Google Hangouts that have replaced face-to-face meetups and help maintain a certain level of team camaraderie. On the other hand, you’ve got tools such as Asana and Trello that have become the holy grail for teams working on projects – helping them stay on top of projects and keep track of individual tasks.

Moreover, collaboration tools such as Hiver have helped remote teams work effortlessly out of a group email for resolving customer queries in these critical times.

DQ: How can enterprises go remote at scale?

Niraj Ranjan Rout: For organizations that have traditionally not embraced remote work, the challenges go beyond just finding the right collaboration tools. Traditional enterprises would also have to consider the following:

Information security – Making sure managed devices have the right policies for Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and virtual private network (VPN) access, as well as network certificates (for managed devices enrolled in your organization). For enterprises embracing remote work for the first time, this is extremely crucial as work from home comes with a wave of potential security risks.

Documentation and complaint redressal – Creating essential how-to guides for your workforce, security policies, usage policies for work devices, networks, and so on. What’s also important is creating a structure for teams across the organization to report remote work-related issues. This helps in addressing these problems as quickly as possible.

Culture and change management – Ensuring teams connect virtually, almost as much as they do in the office. Having frequent check-ins via phone calls or chat, having regular meetings via video conferencing, and sharing updates in real-time — these things can help retain that feeling of togetherness and ensure that the team is always on the same page.

Most importantly, the silver lining for such organizations is that they can look at this as an opportunity to set up and optimize remote work protocols and policies — in order to be better prepared for such scenarios in the future.

DQ: How has Hiver helped the country in the fight against Covid-19

Niraj Ranjan Rout: Hiver offered its highest-tier plan free for three months to organizations on the frontline – medical teams, public health officials, and grocery services, amongst others organizations helping fight the pandemic or offering essential services.

We wanted to help teams on the frontline manage critical queries arriving inside group inboxes such as support@ and help@, and have complete visibility into the status of every query, and ensure no request slipped through the cracks.

As Hiver works on top of Gmail, the platform has helped teams quickly adapt to the new normal of remote work. It has eliminated the need for team members to manually follow up on tasks and made up for the lack of face-to-face communication by making internal collaboration seamless.


Niraj Ranjan Rout, Founder & CEO, Hiver

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