"Zoho Workplace pioneered the unified experience way back in 2017, far before the industry giants took note of its need," - Andrew Bourne

South African companies struggle with productivity due to lack of a unified platform

Zoho Corp., a leading global technology company, announced that it has grown 73% in new revenue in South Africa in 2022.

The company, which opened its second office in the country last year, has grown its employee size by 35% this year. The announcements were made on the sidelines of Zoholics Johannesburg, the company’s annual user conference.

Zoho also revealed the results of the ‘State of Enterprise Collaboration and Productivity in South Africa’ study, conducted by World Wide Worx, during the event.

“Factors like new-age hybrid work arrangements, changing employee preferences, and macroeconomic conditions in South Africa have influenced technology priorities for businesses and as a result, we’re seeing an uptake in adoption of Zoho Workplace, our unified enterprise collaboration platform, amid other offerings,”

said Hyther Nizam, President, Zoho MEA.

“The study substantiates this trend and further helps shed light on specific collaboration and productivity roadblocks for businesses. As CXOs increasingly turn to a unified collaboration platform to tackle organisational needs, Zoho’s offerings are well-placed to help them implement and drive change.”

State of Enterprise Collaboration and Productivity in South Africa key findings:

“Digitalisation and adoption of productivity and collaboration tools have immensely helped South African enterprises,”

said Arthur Goldstuck, CEO, World Wide Worx.

“When we take a closer look at the data, we find that there is an obvious need for a unified collaboration platform, especially for mid-market companies and for those adopting a hybrid model. While loadshedding and poor Wi-Fi emerged as top challenges, unsurprisingly, the next biggest challenge was data silos, which can hold back companies in a demanding market.”

Hybrid vs On-Site 

  • 98% of the workers have returned to office either as fully on-site (56%) or in a hybrid (42%) mode. Remote work exists only for roles in middle management and above, and exclusively in IT software/hardware/services, and financial service/insurance/real estate industries. 
  • While collaboration has become easy with adoption of productivity and collaboration tools, there is a difference in the ease of communication in hybrid vs on-site model. In a hybrid model, 61% found team collaboration to be extremely easy, as against 72% of those fully on-site; 49% of the hybrid workforce found communicating with other teams extremely easy as against 61% of those fully on-site; 50% of the hybrid workforce said communicating with their managers was extremely easy, as against 65% of those on-site.
  • There was also a difference of opinion regarding top ways to improve productivity: 53% of the hybrid workforce chose having quick access to contextual data across apps, against only 26% of the on-site workforce. Similarly, 27% of those in hybrid work mode felt the need for communication tools in business apps (like CRM), as against just 7.4% of on-site workers. 20% of the hybrid workers also felt it was necessary to have a single source of files for better productivity, as against just 7% on-site. On the other hand, 25% of on-site workers felt there was a need for using custom apps to put processes in place, as against just 12% of the hybrid workers.

Apart from loadshedding and poor wi-fi connectivity, 23% of the hybrid workforce said digital fatigue hampered productivity as against 8% of on-site workers.

Productivity and Collaboration Challenges in Mid Market 

The study revealed several anomalies in the companies in the size range 501-1000 employees and in some cases 201-500 employees. There were clear scaling challenges, and a definite need for a unified collaboration platform. 

  • Mid market companies are more likely to have hybrid work. While for companies across sizes, more than 50% of the employees worked on-site, in companies with 501-1000 employee size, only 46% of workers were on-site. 
  • 52% of the employees in this segment also said they do not have a unified view of their tasks, and the number was 66% for companies in 201-500 segment. For all other segments, it was over 70%.
  • There are also clear communication challenges:
  1. For companies with employee size up to 200, over 80% feel that communicating with their own team is extremely easy, whereas only 53% of 201-500 segment and 52% of 501-1000 segment felt the same. The percentage improved to 61% for companies with 1000+ employees.  
  2. Similarly, we see that communicating with other teams is extremely easy for companies with up to 200 employees (71%) but for companies with 201-500 people the percentage drops to 44%, and for 501-1000 segment, it drops further down to 37%. In fact, on average 16% of employees in 201-1000 segment say they don’t find it easy to collaborate with other teams, the only time this figure is in double digits.
  3. The ease of communication with managers and senior leadership also decreases as the company grows in size, with fewer than 50% respondents in 201-1000  segment saying it’s extremely easy.
  • Respondents from companies across sizes, said there were no current technological challenges causing competitive disadvantage, except respondents working in company size 501-1000. They chose three other challenges: low adoption of digital tools across the company (33%), followed by not having visibility into activities across the department (28%), and switching between too many apps (24%).
  • While more than 70% of companies with less than 200 or over 1000 employees said they had a single place to view and track their work, the percentage dropped to 66% in 201-500 segment, and further down to 48% in 501-1000 segment. 
  • When it came to ease of access to information needed to get work done, while over 80% in companies with fewer than 200 employees found it extremely easy, the number dropped to an average of 57% in the 201-1000 segment, and improved to 67% for the 1000+ segment. 

Need for a unified collaboration platform

  • While respondents were divided about the most effective ways to improve their team’s productivity, 37% felt the key was having quick access to contextual data across apps, while 28% chose having fewer meetings, and 19% said using custom apps to implement processes.
  • The biggest challenges to productivity and collaboration were: loadshedding (46%) and poor WiFi connection (40%), while 20% of the respondents also felt that information spread across too many apps was a hurdle.
  • Those using 6-10 apps chose information spread across too many apps (39%) as a bigger challenge to productivity than loadshedding (34%) and poor wi-fi (30%). 
  • All sectors, with the exception of IT software/hardware/services, said there was no technological challenge causing competitive disadvantage. They chose switching between too many apps (36%), and not using or slow adoption of new tech like AI (31%) to be factors causing competitive disadvantage.
  • 81% of the respondents that have a single unified view of their tasks say they are able to save a significant amount of time.  
  • 77% of those who had a unified view (57% very ready; 20% ready) felt positive that their company was ready to face macroeconomic challenges, as against 68% of those without a unified view of their tasks (38% very ready; 30% ready). 

Other Trends

  • 59% of the respondents say the meetings disrupt work and hamper productivity, with the worst affected being those in middle management (70%). In smaller companies (<100), only 49% say that meetings disrupt work, and this percentage increases as the company size increases. The maximum percentage of people (70%) saying they find meetings disruptive is in 501-1000 segment, followed by 64% in both 201-500 and 1000+ segment.  
  • 45% of the respondents say their companies have adopted new technology to deal with the new challenges. 73% of the respondents felt their companies were ready to face macroeconomic challenges.
  • When it came to adoption of new technology like AI to help improve productivity, there was a difference of opinion between the C-suite and Juniors; while 26% of the C-Suite respondents felt that it will help, only 15% of juniors agreed. 

Zoho Workplace

Zoho Workplace is a unified collaboration platform that brings together communication, collaboration and productivity applications, that shows all relevant information and tasks in a single view. It comprises email, chat, online meeting, webinar, office suite (word processor, spreadsheet and presentation), file storage, and social intranet. Over the past two years, Zoho Workplace has seen a global uptake due to rising need for collaboration tools in the post-pandemic world, and migration from other global players when they increased their pricing. Zoho Workplace has seen a growth of 130% in mid-market (500-1000) segment, and 240% in enterprise (over 1000) segment over the last 3 years across the world.

“Zoho Workplace pioneered the unified experience way back in 2017, far before the industry giants took note of its need,”

said Andrew Bourne, Regional Manager, Zoho Africa.

“This study reiterates the need for it in modern businesses, especially in the current market conditions. We believe in not just a unified interface, but a solution that brings in contextual data that saves time, and helps users focus on what’s important. This has helped us gain upmarket traction across the globe, and is also helping us gain migration from other global players.”

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