Do you hate filling up forms?

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I do. Especially when I am signing up for a new service. If you see, all the Zoho services just ask you for an email ID (or a username) & a password. Can Zoho CRM be any different? Just provide your email ID and password and within seconds you will be logged into Zoho CRM on-demand service!

By the way, our On-premise Edition is also available for evaluation in your own setup.  Evaluate the full version for 30 days; if you are satisfied with the features, upgrade to the Professional Edition; if you aren’t, continue using the Free Edition (3 users only, free of cost) forever.

Zoho Sheet & its Users

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We are pleasantly surprised seeing Zoho Sheet being put to use in quite a few ways. Mapz, a GIS librarian has used it to create a Wells in Arlington, Texas map. Mapz feeds his map with data from a Zoho Sheet that he maintains.

I exported the shapefile attributes into Excel format, and am using the Zoho API to allow users to view the attributes using Zoho. I love it that users do not need Excel on their computers. I am very impressed with how well Zoho works, even including the ability to create, edit, share, and even to create & include formulas!! For all you tagging junkies, you can even tag your spreadsheets.

The blog post of Mapz on this topic here. Thanks are due to Gary Price, think many librarians found about Zoho from his posts!

In another instance, Dennis Howlett uses Zoho Sheet to show the growth of Winweb users. Thanks Dennis & Mapz.

Do you have any such interesting use cases of Zoho Sheet?

Kosmix: One step better Search

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Kosmix (via) is an example of next generation Search Engine in its nascent stages. It is different from a standard Search Engine in the context that it is Categorized. To start with, they have three categories – Medicine (in Beta), Travel and Politics (both in Alpha). A common clueless web-surfer who uses a Search Engine for generic queries on a regular basis can readily appreciate the difference. Since the categories are limited, queries have to be, for the time-being, specific to these topics.

For instance, there is a huge difference between searching for a Medical condition in Kosmix and in a standard Search Engine. I entered “Avian Flu” as a search query. The results are presented in an extremely ordered and sorted out manner. For each search term entered, there are sub-categories viz., Basic Information, Definition, Treatments, Symptoms, etc. But Kosmix search goes a step higher by linking Blogs and Forums that provide information about a condition. However, the best part about Kosmix Medical search is the links it provides to authoritative websites that address the problem of specific patients such as children or women.

As with standard Search Engines, search can be personalized. The Travel category is neat, with links to Travelogues and user reviews. Kosmix definitely has a long way to go before it becomes a next generation Search Engine. But this is a welcome change from using quotes, special characters and advanced search filters (and not to mention a great deal of effort involved in thinking about the right set of keywords) to find the information required. It seems that Kosmix was launched by two Stanford graduates. What is it with Stanford Graduates and Search Engines? ;)

Check Out Zoho CRM 5

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Regular readers of this blog would have noticed the teaser posts made on Zoho CRM 5.

Zoho CRM 5 is finally out! Specialty being it is offered both as a service & as a downloadable product. Salient points of the realease below:
Marketing Automation: Campaigns, Email Marketing and Lead Generation for Marketing folks

Sales Force Automation: Leads, Assignment Rules, Capture Leads from Website, Accounts & Contacts, Business opportunities, Sales Stage History, Big deal Alerts, Sales Pipeline Analysis, Competitor analysis, Win-Loss Analysis, Sales Quotas, Sales Forecasts, and so on for your sales force.

Customer Support & Service: Cases (Trouble Tickets), Solutions (Knowledge base), Capture Cases from Website as well as from Microsoft Outlook Email client etc for your support reps.

Order Management: Integrated Procurement and Customer fulfillment process that includes Products, Price Books, Sales Quotes, Sales Orders, Invoices, Purchase Orders and Vendor Management.

Reports & Dashboard: Fully customizable Reports & Dashboards with more than 25 reports and intuitive Flash-based Bar, Stack, Pie and Funnel charts.

Customize CRM solution as per vertical industry including renaming of tabs, adding custom fields, modifying module page layouts, and modifying related list views (360 degree view)

Outlook Edition: Add-on to synchronize contacts and emails between MS Outlook and Zoho CRM.

Workflow Management: Trigger workflow rules based on predefined workflow criteria and send alert messages through email/create tasks to the intended users. Default workflow rules includes, Lead Assignment and Big Deal Alert.

Activities & Calendar integrated with all relevant modules for a better 360 degrees view.

URLs

Website: http://www.zohocrm.com

Demo:  http://crm.zoho.com/crm/demologin.sas

On-demand Signup: http://crm.zoho.com/crm/login.sas

On-premise Download: http://www.zohocrm.com/downloads.html

Forums: http://forums.zohocrm.com

Social Search?

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“Social” is the buzzword these days. Social Bookmarking, Social Networking, Social News-sites, etc. And so Microsoft is going the Social Way – Social MSN Search. To quote:

“The feature will let users direct questions to a specific universe, such as a group of friends, rather than to get automated lists of results from a generic search engine.”

The article reports that Microsoft will tie up with Eurekster which is community powered Search Engine. Sounds a nice thing to do, especially since a generic search most certainly returns irrelevant results; also the likes of Friendster or Orkut are potential sources of lot of information that’s poorly organized. Sometime back, Seth Godin illustrated this idea in his blogpost Tea. The method wasn’t right but the idea is. Hand-built search engines seem to be doing real good job when it comes to searching for generic search terms and recommendations for them. Digg is a fine example for articles recommended by other readers.

There are several Community powered Search Engines – full list can be found here (under the Search 2.0 Category). Most of them enable “rating” a search result. And the relevance of a search query improves as more people use it. So what is special about this Social Search? In what way is it different from any of the Search 2.0 sites?

Consider an option of buying a camera A or B at a place C or at a place D. There are several shopping websites that give you a price list. So enter the name of the camera you wish to buy, and you shall be able see the results and product reviews by people who bought it. Picture this against posting a question: “Should I buy A or B?” to a community dedicated to Digital Photography. The answer will be personalized and answer your question directly unlike the fifty plus search results.

Another example. This time personal. Recently there was a movie released by the name “The Island” which is a dystopian story. Aldous Huxley wrote a book “Island” which is of a similar theme. I wanted to know if there was a connection. Google and Amazon didn’t provide with satisfactory answers. Orkut’s Aldous Huxley community did. And I didn’t even have to scroll my way through several responses.

Many people turn into search engines for answers to their questions. They do not want search results for a key word. This is where I think community search will make all the difference.

Google Calendar

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There were screenshot leaks. There were expectations. And then it released.

Does it have Add Quick Event ?
Yes!

Does it support Sharing?
Yes!

Is it integrated with G-mail?
Yes! But not yet. Soon to be.

Does it send reminders?
Obviously.

Does it support Tagging?
No. But it is possible to Color code.

Familiarity breeds contempt, they say. After the likes of 30Boxes, it is going to be difficult to embrace Google Calendar. However, the best thing about Google Calendar is the integration with Google Maps. There is a “where” field and when you enter an address and it’ll be integrated with Google Maps. But more and more people are creating Mash Ups and it’ll only be a matter of time before some one else offers that functionality too.

Om Malik created a Poll on Google Calendar. Despite the fact that it is almost similar to any other Calendar Application, not so surprisingly, many people have voted in favour.

If Calendar will be compatible with Mobile Devices, though, it’d be another story. So it would be for Yahoo, if they integrate with Upcoming.org. Listening, anyone? ;)