Beyond Corporate Walls: Announcing External Networks and other New features

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We all know, organisations are made of people and processes. People play an essential role in getting things done. Every business, be it small or large have diverse goals and various internal and external stake-holders involved in the decision-making process. The business discussions and decision-making process is often complex. And the work certainly doesn’t just end with just discussions. Implementing work involves an execution plan, supervision and control to achieve the desired goal. Apart from employees, business alliances outside the company can also add value to attain this goal. And the key to successful implementation and innovation is better with collaboration involving these people too.

External Network

Cultivating External Collaboration:

Therefore, it is imperative to choose the right mode to collaborate. Understanding this transformation in the collaboration space, we’ve developed external networks. External networks are designed to enable businesses to extend collaboration capabilities to their partners, suppliers, agents, franchises or contract workers. Zoho Connect’s external networks are no different from the internal network for employees. We have made the interface consistent for both the internal and external networks. With external networks, businesses can leverage the collective knowledge and creativity of partners or vendors and arrive at smarter solutions.

Additionally, we’ve also added newer features to Zoho Connect to enhance collaboration capabilities for businesses. Chatroom, events, network analytics, AD integration are the new features.

Focused Conversations:

Zoho Connect believes in making team communication more focused and actionable. Keeping this in mind, we have added a chat room feature to groups. Chat rooms can be created within groups to hold real- time conversation on specific topics.

Time Management:

Calendars are staple in time management. Users can create events, send invites, track RSVPs of invitees. Don’t miss a single event in your company, stay up to date on upcoming events. We’ve also integrated with Eventbrite so that users can create social network for events, thereby aiding collaboration capabilities for the event.

Measuring Engagement:

It is important for community managers or network admins to understand how the users engage within the network. Network Analytics allows the admins of the network  to measure the overall health of the network, engagement at the group and company level.

Customisation:

Zoho Connect allows administrators of the network to customise the network to match the uniqueness of the company brand. The headers and footers are customisable and can be customised to reflect the look and feel of the brand.

Centralising User Access:

Most businesses leverage Microsoft’s Active Directory to centralize and to standardise user access to networks and other resources. Users can now directly login to their Zoho connect  network with their common organisation credential. It is advantageous in terms of increasing efficiency through convenience while improving access and boosting user adoption.

With the release of external networks, we’ve revamped our pricing plans too. We’ve made it simple.This new plan we believe will reduce the cost significantly to companies that work with a large pool of external users.

Simplified Licensing:

You no longer will have to pay per user for both internal or external network.  You can access most of our prime features like private groups, custom apps, document management and chat rooms in the Free plan itself. The additional features such as multiple admins, post moderation, custom domain, header and footer customisation and Active Directory sync will be under Enterprise plan priced at $49 per network.

To know more and how to use these features, join us at Zoholics: Productivity and Collaboration 2014 event at Pleasanton, California.

Introducing Hashtags on Zoho Connect

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The internet is overloaded with information. To find anything on the web, we need to streamline information.

Hashtags are a popular way of searching through social conversations. It’s been working well in social networking sites, and its importance extends to businesses as well.

Now in Zoho Connect, we’ve made searching easier. Hashtags organize your news feed and helps you easily find threads and stay updated on the latest.

Single

With hashtagging, you can easily browse through large chunks of archived conversations across your organization. Search and follow tagged conversations. This way, you can look for conversations around a particular topic, and also get email notifications every time someone uses a tag you follow.

Try hashtagging, and stay up to date on all interactions that matter.

Social the way you want : New administrative features for Zoho Connect

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It’s clear: putting your company on a private social network boosts collaboration and productivity. But if bringing the wild, anything-goes spirit of social networks to your company scares you, we don’t blame you. Zoho Connect has a full set of administration and moderation features so you can make sure things don’t get out of hand, while still taking advantage of all that creative energy.

Policies and Moderation:

Policies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Zoho Connect, every employee has a voice. It is most unlikely that organizations will need to remove content to promote transparency and engagement. However, there are those rare instances when moderation is absolutely necessary and that’s when the policies & moderation features comes into play. We’ve made it easy for community managers to step-in and take ownership for censorship.

Zoho Connect under your domain:
Access Connect network from your own domain. Having a custom domain improves brand credibility, trust and professionalism factor to your private social network. It is also promotes your brand to your most your important brand ambassadors — your employees.

Tailor the Look & Feel of your network:

Custom- Headers

As a network administrator you can now adjust the network header colors to match the uniqueness of the organization. Choose from a library of header colors and customize the look and feel of your portal to reflect the company brand.

Manage all network Groups:
From initial setup to daily administration to managing your network groups is now possible on Zoho Connect. Group administrative functions makes it easy for administrators to directly manage groups from the setup section itself. The network administrator can now see all public and private groups created within the network and manage it’s members.

Configure your existing network also with these new features under the setup section. If you are new to Zoho Connect, you can visit our help section to understand how to configure your network with these new features. Leave us your feedback too!

 

 

What’s In: Zoho Pulse Integrates With Google Apps

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The most successful people or businesses are the most connected ones. Zoho Pulse is the social intranet for enterprises where employees can stay connected, exchange ideas or information and work together real time. An application on cloud that expands communication and collaboration potential to increase productivity.

We at Zoho, believe in integrating our applications with third party applications for easier adoption of Zoho products. Zoho Pulse is no exception.

We’re excited to announce that Zoho Pulse is now integrated with Google Apps. As a Google App user, you can now have a powerful social intranet for your organization.

Universal Navigation: SSO (Single Sign On)

Zoho Pulse is now just a click away from your Google Apps account. Once Zoho Pulse is installed in your Google Apps domain, its accessible from the universal navigation bar. Just so you know, you don’t need to sign- in separately.

Invite Users from Google Apps Account

You can now invite all your Google Apps account users to your Zoho Pulse network just with a single click.

Upload from Google Drive:

Easy access to Google’s documents archive. Google Apps users can now upload documents into Zoho Pulse network from their Google Drive.

Have a look at presentation to get started :

Sharing at Workplace: A Productive Gesture

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In the evolutionary theories the focus has mostly been on survival of the fittest. Does it mean we have evolved selfishly? Have competition and ruthlessness been the principal drivers of our evolution? Let’s take a peek at the structure of our very own societies. How did communities evolve? The answer is there for us to see from our lives. Our inclinations have never been primarily selfish. Kindness and Altruism have been evolutionary traits that have played key roles in our social connections. We have evolved to share space, resources, emotions and feelings, the very basic gestures of our evolution. We try to express, impress, influence and in-turn satisfy that inherent human nature of being “Social”. We like to be recognized, be appreciated, be talked about, be praised, which basically means be involved in community to satiate our social needs.

sharing

Workplaces are not much different from our societies. Emotions are no different at workplaces too. Be it a thing or knowledge or information or an idea, we tend to share. That keeps the fabric of a workplace well weaved. Workplaces with efficient sharing cultures are the cradles of innovation, the only sustainable competitive advantage these days. It also builds the learning curve and stimulates cultural change for better.

For ages the opinion of others has been a part of identity development. This concept works the same way at workplaces. It’s one simple word in the English language; four letters, one syllable. The word ‘Like’ may be the simplest way yet powerful to deploy one of the most important expressions that one individual can give to another: a form of recognition or acceptance. This gesture creates an engaged and satisfied workforce that in turn leads to better productivity.

Decision makers can make sure that the employees remain updated on various developments within the organization . A shared understanding between management and employees on norms, values, attitudes and beliefs of the work system, can help them share better, communicate better, innovate better and grow better.

It is important for any organization to share, manage and archive information in order to build the knowledge base of any workplace. And that’s why private social networks also have a ‘Share’ button that enables you seamlessly transact information thereby building collaborative work culture .

Click of a Share and Like has a positive influence within the organization nurturing collaboration, thereby driving productivity.

 

Organizational and Nature’s Communication Mechanics

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Nature is the most accomplished engineer and the human body is perhaps the greatest piece of engineering. Mimicking this marvelous technique can work wonders.

An organization has a very close conformity with the mechanics of our body. Similar to the cells being fundamental unit of body, people are the basic units of any corporate body. Cells communicate effectively, so that the organs function well, in turn the body remains healthy. Similarly, effective communication among people in the organizations leads to organizational well being. There is a central nervous system to control all body functions and it is coordinated by all organs. This controlled communicative synergy, when adopted by companies gives them an open and efficient work culture.

But its not always hunky dory. Communication can be hindered by certain barriers such as differences in perceptions and language, overload of information, pressures of time and geography, emotions of people and hierarchical layers. There are solutions!

These barriers when acknowledged by the management can be removed using more efficient tools. The flow of information, knowledge and ideas shouldn’t be limited to a single mechanism, such as email, because of cost savings. The communication should be consistent across channels and should engage target audience. It is important for organizations to seek new technologies that enable efficient and effective communication.

The orthodox dictatorial  mode of communication, when found less effective compared to  prospective tools, have continuously been replaced by new tools. From emails to chat to intranet to Social network, the tools of communication have been evolving. Email has response delays, Chat has informal pitch, and Intranet has hierarchical hurdles. This has led to evolution of more open and robust medium.

Newer tool like Enterprise Social Media has given employees better visibility, platform to put forward their ideas, collaborate, communicate and freedom to express.  More and more companies are looking forward to adapting to this social evolution. This ultimately leads to satisfaction among employees which is the recipe for better productivity.

Coffeehouse Culture: Freshly brewing within Companies

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Two weeks ago, my colleague posted an infographic on , “Work & Coffee: The Unbreakable bond”. It is true and I second that.  Now, I’d like to draw an analogy between “coffeehouse culture” and “social media” within an organization.

From the late 15th century, coffee-shops were the common meeting places for artists, musicians, writers and the like to share ideas and build their community. Coffee is considered to have aided the age of enlightenment and revolution in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Earlier, coffeehouses were social places where people met and debated on various topics of interest within the social circles. Modern coffeehouses are not so much about “coffee” but mostly about the “culture” that it brings along with it. “Coffeehouse culture” is all about allowing ideas to flow in from different social groups to meet and mingle.

A social network within a company functions more like “coffeehouses” facilitating workforce to be more interactive. The employees can be more out-going with their ideas leading to innovations. As much as each coffee shop has its own social climate and culture, each organization has its own culture too. Organizations can support an opportunity for collaboration among colleagues using a social network.

coffee

Learning brings vitality to an organization. Businesses that value and promote learning in all its forms, can reap benefits of its workforce in an environment that is alive and engaging. A social network inside the organization keeps workforce productively engaged, while transacting information that is relevant to them.

Imagine, a crowded space with individual tables for each group which is very typical of a coffee shop. A social network is also that “crowded space” with all its employees in it. Groups within social networks are those “individual tables” that allow teams to collaborate individually and effectively in small numbers. Each social circle may have its share of information and noise on the coffee table, so much so Groups will have their own share of information within the network.

Having shared this analogy, social media for companies is increasingly changing the way organization communicate and the way businesses function. The demand of staying updated at all times has become part of modern digital era.

As coffee refuels your senses, so does the social network for your company. Sip in this new business culture !