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.




On-demand Signup:

On-premise Download:


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 ?

Does it support Sharing?

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

Does it send reminders?

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 Listening, anyone? 😉

Cut-Copy-Paste in Zoho Sheet

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Can you imagine an office application without cut-copy-paste? One like that could be treated half dumb becoz we understand how work actually is done behind the doors ;-). If you just can’t agree, try to guess the number of times you use the art of cut-copy-paste in your everyday work? It can sometimes run into 3 digits! To add more, Paste is the most used command in Microsoft Office. So we thought, this use-case cannot be different with users of an online office application like Zoho Sheet. With due respect to all our users and their feedback we have put in more effort to bring cut-copy-paste functionality to life. To make it more interesting and easy we have support for standard cut-copy-paste keyboard shortcuts.

Short-Cuts, a recap: Ctrl+X for Cut, Ctrl+C for Copy and Ctrl+V for Paste.

Now with Zoho Sheet you can Cut, Copy and Paste using the above shortcuts.

From External Souces:
Just cut/copy content from your Excel spreadsheet or an HTML Table in a webpage and paste it in your Zoho Sheet by selecting the start cell and hitting Ctrl+V.

Within Zoho Sheet:
Cut/Copy a selected a range/cell in the currently opened Zoho Sheet and paste it on to a different cell. If you are copying a formula cell with relative references, they would be automatically adjusted relatively when pasted onto a different cell.

From Zoho Sheet:
Data is always yours! Select a range/cell you want to cut/copy and paste it on to your external application.

Hope, Cut-Copy-Paste would make Zoho Sheet users more productive and happy.

Making of Zoho Polls

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We launched Zoho Polls last week. Let me share how Zoho Polls happened. It was just started as a fun project and is completely the work of just 1 person, Godwin.

We use an internal web application to rate the daily lunch food served and track the satisfaction levels. So each of us will rate the overall quality and the individual menu items after having our lunch. Comments on the food can also be added. The daily feedback and the overall trend would be monitored by the concerned people. So this is a simple application to track the quality of food based on user feedback. There were some limitations like it is a generic, static menu from the database.

Then we had a requirement for our music band to select songs to perform at our company-wide function. So we just took the codebase of our food application and stripped down some functionality like the daily rating and trend. Added entries directly in the database for the selected songs. Then the band members were asked to rate each song so that they can prioritize and rehearse the top numbers.Then we decided why not have a generic tool for rating where anyone can create a poll and fill out the options and send it across to the team for rating. There were many uses for this service like:

  • Rating the various designs of the Zoho logo
  • Rating different UI prototypes for a specific screen (Sample)
  • Rating the next set of features that should go into a product to help prioritize

We then added the ability to vote too – the normal one where you need to select only one option in the poll. There are a lot more uses for this like:

  • Selecting a name for the product
  • Choosing a restaurant to dine (treat!)
  • Predicting who will win the elections

Thus Zoho Polls was born. If you want to make a decision or get other’s opinion just create a public / private poll and share it with your friends or embed it on your website / blog so that your visitors can participate in the poll.

Thanks Godwin for rolling out Zoho Polls.

BarCamp Chennai – Day 2 Wrap-up

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Sorry, this is coming two days late …

Day 2 started with Prathul, a Microsoft Student Partner demoing Office 12, 2007 Microsoft Office System being the official name. There was a nice video capturing moments of Microsoft Office history. Prathul then started with his presentation on Office 12’s Word. The presentation didn’t go as well as he would have wanted it to, as much of the time was spent on showing Word’s evolution from Windows 1.0 when Word had just 2 toolbars, 10 features compared to 31 toolbars & more than 1500 features in Office 2003.

He demoed Word 12’s ‘choose the font & the preview changes below’ feature. Moving over to Excel, he showed the data bars with changeable gradient and how easy it was to change the many chart types available. And in Powerpoint, he showed the different IGX Graphic layouts with each having colors/styles. The publish as pdf feature was something real good.

Next, Atul Chitnis talked on mobile & hand-held computing. He says the current PC is still unusable to many & there is a huge market waiting to be exploited by mobile devices like Origami. There was talk on form factor & why the tablet PC failed (trying to port the desktop onto a smaller device as is & being not so portable). He put his case beautifully with many day-to-day examples like wrist watches (as against wall clocks), video iPods (as against TVs/cinemas), home theatres (as against cinemas) & how our fingers on a touchscreen is more superior than using a mouse.

Inbetween, a gentleman brought the issue of spam SMSes in mobile phones. There were no answers available on how to stop them & sure we will be getting more & more of these unsolicited messages in our mobiles as with email.

Sujatha then linked up from California to give a presentation over phone on podcasts for the South Asian audience & her site Podbazaar. She gave some good stats on the growth in sales of iPods/other mp3 players, how podcasts can provide the new content required (other than music of course) & how podcasts compliment blogs in many ways. She explained on how podcasts can be used like corporates using it as a marketing medium (seems Whirlpool’s ‘The Family’ podcast is quite a hit) & how you can have advertisements in podcasts.

Ashwin & Moyeen presented their college project mSync (short form Mail Sync, I suppose). Signing on to their service would get mails from your Google, Yahoo & Hotmail at a single place. They go one step further & say you can view it in your mobiles. Nice seeing the engineering grads doing such projects. There was some surprise too when they told that the Open Source program that they were using for collecting from Yahoo (yahoo doesn’t allow pop get) was YPOPs & we had a member of the YPOPs project sitting right there among us!
It was time for lunch & as I was feeling much better, could move more freely among the fraternity. It was nice meeting up with Amit Agarwal, who I mentioned in my earlier post as a full time blogger. As Web 2.0 is all about people generated content, it was interesting knowing how Amit generates all those content for his blog. His mantra – Have atleast one very good (search engine optimized!) blog post a day.

The afternoon session had another Amit, Amit Ranjan from Uzanto whose presentation was all about the experiences he encountred with usability & design for their mindCanvas product. “Design is a differentiator” & “UI is the software” were the strong messages he sent across. He finished up with ‘Brilliant Idea & Brilliant Execution’ is what matters. Both the Amits promised to look at Zoho’s products & send their feedback.

Narain presented a demo of TracBac, a Web 2.0 application that is to being developed in Chennai other than Zoho. (are there others out there?) It was Zoho Writer for design collaboraton. As a designer, you can have gif/jpg/png/swf images sent across to your clients & have it all reviewed online (instead of the to and fro flowing of mails). The demo looked pretty promising.

There were presentations by Karthikeyan on how to get VC funding, Adel of Trans India on ‘Designing for the Web’, & presentations on Ruby/Ruby on Rails/Ubuntu Linux, all of these which I couldn’t attend fully (shuttling between Track 1 & Track 2 being the main reason).

The open quiz at the end brought a cheery end to the BarCamp activities. Hats off to Prathul, Aswin & Moyeen for that. And the below photo’s from Adel’s site. Overall, it was good fun for all the 2 days & great knowing so much happening in this part of the world.

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