Skip to main content

Freshdesk becomes Freshworks - A Snap Analysis from Down Under

Freshdesk becomes Freshworks
On June 6, 2017 Freshdesk announced its rebranding to Freshworks. Freshworks is a new umbrella brand for the suite of applications that Freshdesk built and acquired since its founding in 2010.
The core statement by Girish Mathrubootham, CEO and founder of Freshworks is:
Today, I’m happy to announce that we are rebranding the company as Freshworks. We’re not in this just to change the way businesses do customer support, but to refresh the way they do business.
Let’s have a look at select paragraphs of the press release.
Following breakout growth of the company’s customer support software, and the introduction of new products for IT Service Management (“ITSM”), customer relationship management (“CRM”) and cloud-based call centers, Freshworks products are designed to help companies better engage and communicate with their customers and employees.
The company surely had a significant impact on parts of the CRM market, also as evidenced by being named a CRM Watchlist Winner 2017 by industry luminary Paul Greenberg. They, in my eyes, however, do not yet have a CRM. A CRM encompasses marketing, sales, and service, supporting multiple channels/being channel agnostic and based upon analytics. Freshsales, what is referred to as their CRM, is a sales tool.
Today, the Freshworks suite of products includes:
·       Freshdesk : a multichannel customer support helpdesk which allows organizations to collaborate and support their customers through email, phone, websites, forums and social media
·       Freshservice : a cloud-based service desk and IT Service Management solution to address the growing complexity of teams’ IT support needs through a simple but powerful interface
·       Freshsales : a full-featured CRM solution for sales teams handling high-velocity leads
·       Freshcaller : a fully functional call center on the cloud

While this is a good listing of the products that are now under the umbrella of Freshworks the missing of hotline is notable. I can only surmise that it moved under the umbrella of Freshdesk. It surely didn’t get abandoned.
Until now, businesses have had few options for business software, turning to all-in-one, cumbersome legacy solutions across the organization. These solutions are not only expensive, but also require long implementation cycles and are extremely difficult to use without expert training, neither of which are afforded by growing companies. At the same time, enterprises are also tired of wasting time and resources on trying to make everything work together. Freshworks offers a product portfolio that is easily implemented and affordable for companies of all sizes.
It is true that there haven’t been that many options for businesses, especially in the SME arena. Still there are a bunch of vendors around that make the same claim, including heavyweights like Salesforce or Netsuite. Then there is, very noteably, Zoho.
Adopted by over 100,000 companies in 145 countries, Freshworks’ mission is to help companies better engage and communicate with their customers and employees with refreshing business software. For companies looking to share customer data and insights across sales and support teams or quickly onboard and set-up new employees, Freshworks’ integrated software products ensure all teams are working together in sync.” [highlighting by me]
This statement, along with Girish’s quote, very nicely summarizes the renewed vision. It also shows the current lack of marketing clout by not naming this part of CRM functionality.

My Take

This rebranding was an inevitable move that reflects the reality of what the company formerly known as Freshdesk is actually doing. The company’s original vision of providing a ‘fresh helpdesk that makes a dent into the world of customer support’ has changed considerably. Meanwhile, as a company, Freshworks is providing customer service, IT service, cloud call center, sales, and bot functionality – the latter as part of their customer service and the sales functionality.
The main functionality that is currently missing is a decent (fresh) marketing based upon a more generic analytics component than they currently have. But looking at how the company developed so far this is probably not too far down the road.  As is different functionality, as the new name, and the header of the press release suggest.
[The] New umbrella brand provides product clarity, enables future growth of feature-rich, easy-to-use and affordable business software suite
Both put Freshworks squarely in competition with Zoho and ultimately with bigger players up to and until Salesforce . Although Freshworks seemed to see their main clientele in the SME market they have with Honda, Bridgestone, Hugo Boss, Toshiba and Cisco some big referencable names in their client base.
The challenges Freshworks has become more obvious, too. The two main ones that I see, are:
1.     The company moved from being a best-of-breed specialty vendor to becoming a suite vendor. This is a strong shift of focus that needs to be carefully managed and executed upon. The alternative is confusing the customers by an apparent lack of strategy – even if there is one. And I would think that there is one. Freshworks has had far too much impact in the past years.
2.     Although they claim to have a “CRM” they in my eyes don’t yet have one. The reason is that there is no significant marketing functionality. While there is some phone and email support I do not see enough of a campaign management functionality or enough of an analytics component to support next best actions, product recommendations, or even enough segmentation. The claim of being able of doing “AI based lead scoring” is not enough – what does “AI-based” mean?
In spite of above two concerns Freshworks is certainly a vendor to keep in mind when it comes to looking at a suite of CRM software that initially does not focus on marketing.


Last Year's Top 5 Popular Posts

Truly Zoho - How capitalism and doing right coincide

The past 9 months have seen quite a rollercoaster in the tech industry. We have seen staggering profits, we continue to see stock buybacks, we have seen consolidation, mergers and acquisitions – and we have seen mass layoffs . Few of them were well handled or communicated. Even fewer showed any sign of executives taking accountability besides stating that they made mistakes during the pandemic and that they feel sorry for what they need to do now. They had simply over-hired and now need to take corrective action to stay on a ‘growth path’. One of these executives arguably took the prized company culture of regarding the employees as family to grave. What do these layoffs have in common? They were initiated to please the capital markets, i.e. shareholders and venture capitalists. The idea behind this is that layoffs is the fastest way to solve or avoid impending financial problems. However, there is mounting scientific evidence that this idea is a myth, as e.g., expressed here , here

Zoho - How a technology company reimagines business software

The News   On May 4, 2023, Zoho held its Zoholics conference in Austin, TX which included a media and analyst track in addition to the customer track. After all, Zoholics is a customer event. During this event, about 80 participants of the former track had ample opportunity to learn about and discuss the latest news at Zoho. We also had the opportunity to listen to - and question - a panel of customers who gave candid answers about their journey with Zoho and challenges they faced. Of course there was plenty of room for mingling and networking with Zoho executives and, of course, with analysts and customers. In addition to the breaks between the tracks, there was a pre-evening reception, a dinner on the event day and a casual brunch at the Zoho farm just outside of Austin.  As usual for Zoho, the sessions were less about feeding us with PowerPoint (or Zoho Show, to be precise. Why would Zoho not use a Zoho product?) but about giving good information and a genuine interest in getting fe

Don't mess with Zoho - A Zohoday 2022 recap

After spending two days in Austin, TX, attending the ZohoDay 2022, it is time for a little recap of this interesting event.  We were 99 analysts and 24 customers and plenty of knowledgeable Zoho personnel. The incredible Sandra Lo and her team organized the event around open and transparent communication. So, there was plenty of access for us to customers and the Zoho team.  Which was very important, as already the keynote session by founder and CEO Sridhar Vembu was quite hardcore. Vembu talked about how strategy and culture need to be one, how culture needs to be the root of strategy, and how Zoho implements this. The Zoho strategy lies on three main pillars ·       Transnational localism, a unique concept that in its essence is about embedding a company into a local community by not only selling into it but also by investing into it. This investment is e.g., by offering high paying jobs in areas where these are scarce, by fostering local education, but also by own local sourcing in

SugarCRM explains how the third wave of CRM adds value

The news On October 4 and 5, 2023, SugarCRM held its Connected event followed by an analyst summit in London. The first day – Connected – was targeted mostly at customers while the second day focused on analysts.  The event started off with an intense speech by Katherine Grainger, DBE , a British rowing champion. Her core messages were about team bonding, the importance of communication, continuous improvement, and perseverance (well, at least that’s my take). This was followed by information about what is new in the software and, more importantly, a customer panel.  The main sponsor, Mobileforce , placed some words about the partnership. In addition, the analysts had 1:1s with customers, partners, and Sugar executives. The second day was filled with information targeted at analysts. CEO Craig Charlton and his executive team shared about financial status, strategy and more in-depth product news. Sugar being a privately held, VC backed company, the financials are of course under NDA, s

Relevance, reliability, responsibility are key for AI – the SAP way

The News A lot is going on in the SAPverse during October and the early days of November 2023. First, SAP conducted its CXLive event with CX-related announcements, then the company reported good Q3/2023 figures, a new version of its CX software that includes new generative AI capabilities got released and lastly, it executed its SAP TechEd event with a good number of AI-, BTP-, and ERP related announcements. As this is quite a lot, I covered the CX world in a previous post and will cover the TechEd related news in this post.  So, what is new at SAP TechEd ? For one, it is enough to fill a 17-page pre-event news guide that SAP sent out. SAP certainly is able to stack up the news for major events. I took the liberty to ask ChatGPT for a summary of the document, which I slightly edited afterwards. Here we are: AI and Development Environments: ·       SAP introduces SAP Build Code with generative AI, improving application development and testing, while new AI capabilities are integrate