Hardik P Gandhi, CEO, and Co-founder, Zvolv, speaks about Zvolv, its offering, how no-code/low-code platforms are digitizing businesses and helping brands better map customer journeys. Hardik also addresses how no-code/low code platforms will help Indian startups and SMEs grow.
Hardik has more than 20 years of experience working with deep tech in the US and 13 patents to his name. He brings extensive knowledge and a first-hand understanding of the tech automation space to Zvolv. A former technologist at Apple, and an R&D leader at Texas Instruments, Hardik has an MS from the University of California and a degree in Management Science from Stanford University.
Tell us about ZVOLV, its offerings, and what differentiates it from its competitors?
Zvolv is a no-code intelligent automation platform that enables enterprises to build complex process applications, fast. Zvolv applications can be built in days due to the no-code nature of the platform (little to no developer involvement). The Zvolv platform combines business process automation features that allow tracking and managing human activities, along with intelligent automation bots that can replace repetitive or error-prone data centric activities from humans to software bots.
This one-of-a-kind combination of BPM and RPA features enables the development of end-end integrated applications that address the last mile digital transformation challenges in enterprises.
Speed, customization flexibility and intelligence capability (AI/ML integration and advanced analytics) differentiate Zvolv from other platforms.
What business processes can one perform, fix with a low-code/ no-code platform?
No-code/Low-code platforms like Zvolv enable automating 4 different types of business processes:
- Automating business workflows across functions like Finance, HR, Operations and Support that involve data collection via digital forms, approvals based on delegation of authority, simple task and case tracking and more. This includes typical applications like Capex/Opex approvals, employee on-boarding, maintenance ticketing, performance evaluation etc. The solutions need to be simple, intuitive and easily justifiable from a return on investment perspective.
- Plugging in gaps in ERP tools that are very expensive or time-consuming to implement within the ERP system. For example, exposing selective PO/Invoice/shipment data from ERP systems to outsiders via customer/vendor portals with self-service capabilities. Solutions need extensive integration capabilities with many different tools, and are customizable to accommodate unique business needs.
- Process orchestration and work management for inter-disciplinary processes that span across many different teams across the organization – like new product development, or new store launch, or new marketing campaigns or cost saving initiatives. Such processes require many different technology components and need a lot of customization, making off-the-shelf tools very difficult to drive value from. Platforms need to be feature rich, flexible, and with enterprise grade security and scalability for such applications.
- Intelligent applications that can leverage the vast amounts of different types of data collected by organizations in different tools, and derive trends, predictions and highlight deviations, without requiring expensive data scientists crunching data day in and day out. Automated bots can process orders of magnitude more data and derive more insights than manually possible, while maintaining the highest level of accuracy.
How does the current roster of ZVOLV’s clients look like, and where do you see yourself in the pecking order today?
Zvolv has dozens of enterprise clients, with over a dozen of them being large billion dollar enterprises. These include large business houses like Aditya Birla Group, Tata Group, Future Group, unicorn start-ups like Swiggy, Lenskart, global leaders like KPMG, Dominos, and several other vertical leaders like More supermarkets, Gilbarco and Mumbai International Airport.
Zvolv specializes in the creation of complex enterprise applications involving both human and automation bot activities. Simple low-cost business process management tools struggle to deliver end-end solutions, making it difficult for enterprises to derive optimal value with half-baked applications.
And large enterprise (fortune-500) focused enterprise suites are extremely expensive and time consuming to build on, making it difficult to justify the return on investment for most automation initiatives.
Zvolv provides a unique blend of extensive do-it-yourself capabilities, a vast array of features, deep intelligence capabilities and unrivaled customization capabilities, at a total cost of ownership that is easy to justify based on the value delivered.
With digitization now the norm, how has ZVOLV helped brands improve their business and operation efficiency? (Case Studies)
Zvolv applications range from accelerating growth, driving better resource utilization and planning, and improving operational efficiency.
Here are some high-impact solutions built on Zvolv:
- Zvolv has enabled leading retailers and QSRs to automate their site selection, new store opening and compliance processes, on average, helping cut down time to launch by over 50%. Over 1000 new stores/outlets have been launched across brands using Zvolv powered solutions.
- A leading operator of over 800 nation-wide supermarkets has been enabled to save over $10M annually with ML based resource optimization and rostering solutions that have leveled resources more efficiently across the network and saved over 15% in variable resource requirements.
- Zvolv based data collection, real-time dashboarding and analytics solutions are helping manage a construction portfolio of over 250 healthcare centers, with reduced travel costs, pro-active escalations and data-driven trends.
- Zvolv solutions have helped food services organization stay operational through Covid with rapidly launched apps for employee health monitoring, facility hygiene compliance, employee absence management and maintenance processes.
- A leading manufacturer of heavy machine equipment is using Zvolv to track their supply chain from plants to customer installations across 4 continents, including tracking issues, warranty claims and reverse logistics. The average time to report successful installs and resolve issues has reduced from over 6 months to less than a week.
How can brands leverage low-code/no-code platforms to improve digital customer journeys?
Business employees are used to using state-of-the art applications in their daily life, with a lot of advanced AI/ML technology behind the scenes that improves experience multi fold (like social recommendations, chat bots, messaging apps). But when it comes to applications used at work, often employees have to make do with solutions that are behind by several generations, or many times nonexistent.
Manual processes abound, requiring walk-in or phone-based or email-based requests and no real-time tracking. Self-help web-portals, if available, are difficult to navigate and many times obsolete due to the evolution of the enterprise processes, which the tech team has been unable to keep pace with.
Low-code and no-code platforms like Zvolv are extremely effective at driving efficiency and improving the experience for processes internal to enterprises, as well as involving partners and vendors.
Applications built on such modern platforms use state-of-the art technology and UI/UX, with the capability to leverage intelligence in terms of AI or ML to further the employee experience. With a reduced dependence on developers, applications are easier to evolve and keep pace with rapidly transforming processes. This has the potential to significantly increase employee productivity and job satisfaction.
How are entrepreneurs, SMEs carving a way to grow business during these challenging times with the help of platforms like ZVOLV?
As is the adage, entrepreneurs have to move fast and succeed, or fail fast, so they can move on to solving the next big problem. With business models evolving rapidly and a lot of innovation on the business side of things, being held back due to long development times associated with technology is often the biggest bottleneck in validating ideas.
Platforms like Zvolv help with rapid prototyping. In a matter of days, any idea can be converted into a minimal viable product that can be used to explore the market and validate the business model. With the ability to keep adding building blocks, the solutions can evolve as business plans solidify.
Zvolv is built from the ground up to be enterprise ready, so scalability, security, privacy concerns are all taken care of from day one. With the platform doing all the heavy lifting in terms of servers and dev-ops, entrepreneurs can keep growing their business with a very lean, or even non-existent IT team, which can add to the business capital efficiency in the early days.
Similarly, SMEs can build rapid solutions helping in their growth plans, with an extremely low cost of ownership, yet are able to scale the solutions as and when needed.
Do you think the efficiency, expertise that low code/no code service providers offer will help the Indian startup culture grow?
Low-code/no-code platforms have come of age in the last couple of years, and the chaos that has ensued with Covid has helped accelerate the pace of adoption.
Today’s platforms are very different in terms of complexity that can be handled and DIY capabilities. With the level of customization flexibility and the extensive feature set that platforms like Zvolv provide, entrepreneurs can test out ideas with a very low investment in tech. This lowers the bar for startups to create MVPs and validate ideas at early stages. Zvolv has helped several startups launch in recent years, across fintech, logistics and retail domains.
Tell us about ZVOLV’s pricing structure and its current revenue model?
Zvolv has a very unique licensing model. Zvolv charges an annual license fee based on the number of building blocks used across the customer’s applications. There is no limit on the number of users or how widely the applications get used. This allows customers to pay only for what they build and use.
This opens up the doors for enterprises to use the Zvolv applications widely, both inside and outside the organizations, without escalating license costs. For many types of external focused applications, this model makes Zvolv an order of magnitude cheaper than other options which charge based on per user.
Zvolv also offers a unique white-glove-treatment on-boarding option. Customers choose this for a fixed cost for 1-3 months, and during this period, Zvolv devotes a business analyst and implementation specialist to help the customers with process mining and implementation, change management, training and support.
This way, customers get to realize value from their first set of applications much faster, and get trained to self-manage and build future applications themselves over time.
What has been the impact of COVID-19 on businesses, and how can ZVOLV and platforms like it help in the business’s recovery?
Zvolv has seen businesses automating at a much faster rate due to the impact of Covid, primarily for a couple of reasons:
- Changes in business models require much more tracking and data management. Some of our clients have gone from B2B to B2B2C type business models, while others have gone from B2C to B2B.
- The need for making data-driven decisions rather than gut-feel decisions, especially at the ground level. Distributed decision making has its flaws due to personal preferences, and distracted employees end up making flawed decisions.
- Eliminating any bottlenecks due to people not being available. With the uncertain nature of employee availability, a lot of processes are being re-defined and automated where possible to prevent stalled decisions or execution.
- Remote work requires many processes to be automated that were traditionally walk-in processes. Finance, HR and support processes are being revamped and automated where possible.
Can you share with us your plans for ZVOLV’s brand building and growth?
Our vision for Zvolv is to grow it to be the dominant platform for complex enterprise process automation, just like Salesforce is the dominant CRM and SAP is the dominant ERP. We envision Zvolv to be the first made Indian enterprise platform to be trusted by a majority of Fortune 500 companies for mission critical applications.
What is the one trend in the no-code development world that will be a game-changer in the coming years?
Today’s generation of citizen developers are building applications on a variety of off-shelf SaaS tools, resulting in all sorts of point applications that don’t talk to each other, data is not unified nor in control of IT teams, and licensing costs are not managed well. In the end, these end up being short-lived applications with no clear ownership and rarely scale beyond individual teams.
We believe the future of no-code/low-code platforms lies in ‘assisted DIY’ by ‘IT certified’ citizen developers. IT teams would certify both development platforms and business users capable of developing on such platforms, with implementation experts helping ensure applications conform to inter-operability, security and scalability norms.
With Zvolv’s model, organizations sign up for the Zvolv platform not to build one application, but as an investment in the future.
Zvolv provides roadmap flexibility with integration of all key technology components across BPM, RPA, AI/ML and advanced analytics, allowing for many new applications in the future. And with private cloud deployment options, organizations are in full control of data residency, security, scalability and inter-operability.
Anything else you would like to add?
Zvolv is led by a stellar team with past experience building and scaling products at global companies like Apple, Texas Instruments, Synopsis and Arista. The leadership team has 100+ years of international experience, and comes with an educational background from IITs, UC, Stanford and other leading universities, and has over 35 collective patents.