“What we call work has been evolving,” noted company president Rajesh Ganesan during his keynote. “The OpenAI transformation is magical, so are all the new technologies, but we need to understand the reality.”
That reality will affect the way companies operate, he said, citing the State of Remote Work 2023 report from social media management firm Buffer, in which 98 per cent of respondents said they’d like to work remotely, at least part of the time, for the rest of their careers, and more than 70 per cent of global organizations are permanently allowing some amount of remote work.
How things are done has changed too, he observed. Innovation used to be driven from the top down, now it’s more democratic. Collaboration was in physical rooms, now it’s remote, and teams used to be structured, but now are self-organizing. And people pick up new job functions to meet business needs.
“Resilience is now a strong business differentiator,” he said. “Companies thriving today, after the pandemic, had resilience.”
Resilience helped ManageEngine thrive too, Ganesan said in an interview. The company was founded in 1996 as AdventNet, with a focus on network management, incorporated in 1997, and in 2009 became Zoho Corporation, with three divisions: Zoho, ManageEngine, and WebNMS.
“WebNMS was the original product line,” Ganesan recalled. “The first pivot was ManageEngine.” After the dot-com bust, he said, “we had to diversify. We were selling to the big telcos of the world, and you can count the number of telcos on your fingers. So the market was very small; we had to diversify our customer base, which is how ManageEngine started – we said, ‘we will sell to the IT organizations inside every enterprise’.”
This was in 2002, he said, and in 2005, with the rise of cloud, the company developed the Zoho productivity suite, which again expanded its scope to let it sell to every line of business within corporations.
“We always make futuristic bets,” he noted. “We knew it had to be in the cloud.”
Another move that, in retrospect, seems prescient, was the company’s employment strategy. Known as ‘transnational localism’, it eschews operating everything from one place, and instead goes where the talent is. Thanks to that philosophy, when the pandemic struck, the company was in a good position.
“That experiment happened for five, six years for us to even have some belief,” Ganesan explained. “Once we had that, we took that model across the country [India] first, now across the world. I wouldn’t say it’s a success yet, but it is something you want to do. And it’s even better when other companies also express their belief, their approval that this is a model worth considering. Go where talent is, don’t look for credentials. Don’t look for fancy degrees, just have a way to create opportunities, go to the talent and you will be able to do magic.”
ManageEngine in Canada
Canada is ManageEngine’s second-fastest growing region, after India, said regional director Sekar Subramanian, and currently is enjoying 30 per cent growth in customers, with more than 6,000 customers in the country, mostly in Ontario. It is looking at how to tap Quebec, Manitoba, and British Columbia next. It already has a data centre in Montreal, due to demands from customers who needed their data stored in the country.
“From a management perspective, we see Canada as ten different provinces, because each province behaves differently. So our focus, our investment will be based on that,” he said.