The AatmaNirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge all started with a tweet by our Honorable Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. A portion of that tweet, published on the 4th of July, read, "Today there is immense enthusiasm among the tech & start-up community to create world-class Made in India Apps."
A little over a month later, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (@GoI_MeitY) has evaluated over 6,000 apps under nine broad categories including Entertainment, News, Office and Productivity, E-learning, and Business. The objective? To identify the best Indian apps that are already in use by Indian businesses and citizens, and that have the potential to scale up and become world-class in their respective categories.
After a lot of back-and-forths, and three grueling rounds of evaluation and countless hours of preparation, five apps from Zoho stand tall as winners in the Office and Business categories: Zoho Cliq, Zoho Workplace, Zoho Invoice, Zoho Expense, and Zoho Books.
The competition landscape
India is fast establishing itself as a major presence in the digital economy. By any number of key metrics, from internet connections to app downloads, both the volume and the growth of its digital economy now is greater than most developed countries. The Indian Government (@mygovindia) is moving rapidly to spread high-speed connectivity across the country to move more and more Indian businesses and processes online. What does this increased connectivity mean? The opportunity is huge, and so is the competition.
6000+ Indian made products submitted for evaluation stands testament to it. A nation-wide open competition like this is the fastest way to quickly turn the spotlight towards apps that can make a difference in the everyday life of business owners. Although the products from Zoho have an established reputation across the globe, the competition wasn't easy, and it tested the product's capability from various standpoints. Scalability, adaptability to local languages, and privacy to name a few, the products were evaluated in such a way that it is easy for a small business to get started with, yet is comprehensive enough to handle complex requirements of a mature business.
A closer look at the evaluation criteria
Easy to use, yet comprehensive
As leaders in their categories, all five of these Zoho apps are intuitive by design. Zoho Cliq and Zoho Workplace's suite of productivity apps set the standard for effortless communication and collaboration across departments and boundaries. Zoho Invoice, Zoho Books, and Zoho Expense on the other hand make complex operations extremely simple and empower businesses to manage their finances easily. All three apps give businesses a platform that delivers beyond traditional invoicing, accounting, or expense management with various market-first product innovations.
Availability and accessibility
A core part of the digitalization challenge is to bring essential functions to the devices that are being used by most business owners or entrepreneurs. With feature-rich, fully-functional native apps for iOS and Android devices, these Zoho apps were in a prime position to satisfy users' needs for availability and accessibility.
Privacy and security
With expanded digital presence comes greater security risks. Yet all five of these apps reflect the strong privacy-first approach used by Zoho across the organization. The tight security features and practices that enable safe collaboration and secure financial transactions for Zoho users helped the juries weigh in favour of these apps.
Built in India, built for the world
Geographical scalability was a crucial evaluation factor, and all five apps came out with flying colors. With an impressive range of customers across industries and businesses of all sizes, Zoho Cliq and Workplace led the Office category comfortably. Meanwhile, the way Zoho Books solved complex tax regulations for various countries, and GST in particular was a key differentiating factor. Zoho Invoice and Zoho Expense stood out in its ability to serve businesses across the globe, pushing these three apps to the top of the business category.
We'd like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of India and the esteemed panel of jurors who evaluated all the apps. This is a significant milestone for us, and we are proud to continue to build world-class products that are made in India, for Indian businesses and the world. As our CEO often asks, "Who said you need to be in Silicon Valley to build world-class products?"