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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.

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