Get More Done While On the Go With the Free Zoho Projects Mobile App

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Do you love the new design for Apple’s iPhone iOS? Do you hate it? Everyone seems to have an opinion about it – and a very strong one! That highlights the important role that mobile phones play in our daily lives.

And that’s exactly why we decided to make our Zoho Projects Mobile Apps free – both our iPhone and Android Mobile App are now free for all users.

Free Projects Mobile AppHere’s a typical request from one of our customers:

The (Free) Mobile app only gives me limited options, Feeds and Settings. I’m not able to update timesheet or anything. Doesn’t even show those options for me. Why?

When we launched Zoho Projects 4.0 the Free Mobile edition did have limited options to use while the rest of the features like tasks, documents and timesheet were available only as part of the paid edition.

You asked; we listened. Today the Zoho Projects Mobile App is free – even the more advanced version that was previously only for paying customers. We want you to start using the Zoho Projects Mobile App to the fullest extent possible for your work even while on the go.

What are you waiting for ? Just go to iTunes or Google Play store install the Zoho Projects Mobile App right on your mobile device.

Goodbye Badge Scanner, Hello Leads

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Remember the last time you were on booth duty at a trade show, scanning attendees’ badges with the badge scanner provided by the event organizer? If your experience was anything like ours, it looked like this: With just one scanner in the booth, a line often formed as everybody waited to use the same device. To supplement the basic information provided by their badges, you frequently wrote notes on the backs of attendees’ business cards. At the end of the show, you handed the badge scanner back to the event organizer. And waited.

A week later, the event organizer sent you an Excel file with the attendees’ badge information. You took that Excel file and imported the leads into your CRM system. Finally, after seven days or more, you sent out your follow-up emails saying, “Thanks for visiting our booth.” By that time, of course, the attendees have likely forgotten who you are and what you do. And you’ve likely lost all the business card notes because, let’s face it, nobody wants to key in information collected from the hundreds of people and coordinate it with the records in their CRM system.

What if you could replace that dedicated badge scanner with a smart, mobile application that connects directly to your CRM application?

We are excited to announce Leads.

leadsapp-icon

With a badge scanning app running on your smartphone, you can scan badges at any time, from anywhere on the event floor and beyond. In fact, everyone in your company who has a smartphone can run this mobile app, which means everybody can scan badges. Once the badge is scanned, the app automatically extracts all of the information and presents it to you on the mobile device screen. That means you can take notes, add tasks and assign a lead owner — on the spot, while the customer is there with you.

You can also connect the mobile app to backend workflow systems set up in your Zoho CRM system. For instance, whenever you scan a badge at a trade show or event, that information is entered as a new lead in the CRM system and a “thank you” email is sent out immediately, not seven days later.

This is exactly what we’re delivering with Leads. This mobile app complements Zoho CRM to give you immediate access to, and let you take immediate action on, the leads you gather at a trade show or event.

Leads supports QR code scanning, but it’s smart enough to recognize when it can’t scan a QR code. At that point, Leads automatically switches to OCR and scans the readable badge information like first name, last name and company name.

Leads also has a built-in card scanner, so you can take a photo of a business card and automatically populate the related Zoho CRM fields with the card information. Leads will also save an image of the business card itself to Zoho CRM. If the business card includes the person’s Twitter handle, Leads will automatically collect the associated Twitter profile picture and add it to the lead record created in Zoho CRM. You can also enter the Twitter handle manually.

We launched Leads at Zoholics this past week, and all exhibitors at this year’s show used the Leads app to scan the badges of Zoholics attendees. If you’re ready to make the move to a smart, mobile badge scanning app, try Leads. It’s available immediately on iPhone for a one-time fee of $4.99. Android version is in the works.

 Leads-screenshot

Customer Spotlight: Largest Sensor Company in the U.S. Implements Z-CRM

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Banner_logo                  emailer1

Over the last few years, Banner Engineering has been growing at a rapid rate.  With over 3000 employees, 7 corporate offices, and 147 products, Banner began realizing the challenge of tracking sales quotes from several sales representatives over a wide array of products.  Their system of tracking via MS Excel was actually causing more confusion and extra work.

Six months ago, Banner decided it was time to find a solution to these tracking difficulties and contacted Rivet Solutions, an IT and business solutions consultancy.  Rivet was tasked with finding a CRM solution that matched Banner Engineering’s extensive needs and implementing this solution as quickly and painlessly as possible.

The Business

Banner is the global leader in process and industrial automation, helping customers increase efficiency, reduce costs, ensure quality, monitor and control processes, and safeguard employees.

Banner focuses on delivering industry-leading photo eyes, sensors, vision sensors, wireless sensors, machine safety, e-stop devices, vision lighting, and a wide assortment of indicator lights, tower lights, stack lights, and pick to lights.

The Challenge: Finding a CRM that can Handle Extensive Information yet be Implemented in Under a Month

ameya

Ameya Nisal of Rivet solutions lead the effort of finding Banner Engineering a suitable CRM solution.  The first thing he noticed were the extensive requirements.

“Banner had over nine pages of quotation parameters that we needed to meet which was a real challenge.  Additionally, they didn’t have the flexibility to be offline or in limbo for very long and they needed full implementation, automation, and training completed within a month.”

Competitive Analysis of CRM Solutions

As Rivet analyzed Banner’s extensive requirements, it became clear that Zoho CRM was the optimal solution.

“We considered SalesForce and Sugar CRM but quite honestly, I hesitate to recommend them because of the complexity of usage. “

This was especially important considering the timeframe that Rivet had to implement a company-wide CRM solution.

“We emphasized Zoho CRM because of the simplicity of usage.  It is considerably easier to use than any other full-featured CRM solution and considering the timeframe with which they wanted full-implementation, Zoho made the most sense. “

Rivet likes to go the extra level however to ensure that the customer is agreeable to their proposed solution.

“Zoho is always a very agreeable to customers because there is a lot of press out there, specifically GetApp.com, which recommends Zoho as the best all-around CRM solution.  I want the customer to feel 100% comfortable and once I show them these recommendations, they are entirely on-board. Additionally, CRM solutions like SalesForce and Sugar are exorbitantly more expensive and customers pay for features which they never use.  With Zoho CRM, you only pay for the features you use which Banner liked much more.”

Implementing Zoho CRM

Rivet solutions actively worked with Banner engineering and had them independently using Zoho CRM after only 25 days.

Life After Implementing Zoho CRM

“I’m happy to say that Banner has been successfully using Zoho CRM for over 5 months now.  The marketing/sales team incorporates all of their leads within Zoho CRM and Banner has been able to satisfy all of its requirements and needs with Zoho.”

“95% of Zoho CRM users are happy and comfortable using Zoho already.”

What You Like to Say to Other Customers about CRM Solutions?

“This initially seemed a great challenge for Rivet solutions to implement a complete CRM for the largest sensor company from the U.S.  However, I think the ease with which we were able to implement this and the timeframe with which Banner Engineering was able to be completely and comfortably integrated with Z-CRM is a great testament to Zoho. “

To learn more about Rivet Solutions,CLICK HERE

To learn more about Banner Engineering, CLICK HERE

They Acquire, Acquire, Acquire While We Build, Build, Build

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Today, Salesforce announced their biggest acquisition to date: ExactTarget – revenue under $300 million, accumulated losses of over $60 million over 3 years – for $2.5 billion. Here is the interesting part: ExactTarget, which competes with our Zoho Campaigns product, has about 1600 employees, while all of Zoho Corp has about 1600 employees. By way of comparison, Salesforce has nearly 10,000 employees, and they are adding those additional 1600 employees today. With all that headcount, they still don’t have the breadth and depth of Zoho. At our annual Zoholics event last week we launched 3 new products (Zoho Pulse, Zoho Vault and the very handy Zoho Leads mobile app), and also announced numerous enhancements to the entire Zoho suite of offerings.

Are we very efficient or are they very inefficient? Well, you be the judge: we fund our extensive R&D investment out of profits, while ExactTarget has lost money for years and Salesforce is not exactly a profit-machine either – they spend over 65% of their revenue on sales, marketing and administration and only 12% on R&D. I don’t know a more unbalanced structure in all of technology. Most acquisitions fail, but in this case, maybe the two companies do have a deep cultural fit, because they both know how to spend loads and loads of money to “acquire” customers while never turning a profit.

We happen to know ExactTarget well. We started development on our competing Zoho Campaigns product 3 years ago. We put in a lot of hard work, and today it is enjoying rapid growth and market acceptance, thanks to its nice feature set and the integration we offer with Zoho CRM. To get that same level of integration, Salesforce is shelling out $2.5 billion. The contrast between what we do and what they do cannot be starker.

So how does it all matter to you, the customer? First, if you are a Salesforce customer, you are going to have to pay for this acquisition – and not just monetarily. I am a software engineer, I review code, I design frameworks, so I know a thing or two about software. I will say with confidence that integration projects on the scale needed to integrate ExactTarget into Salesforce are extremely difficult to pull off in any reasonable time frame. Just the technological challenge of integrating totally separate code bases is immense, and then you add culture clashes, political rivalries, geographic separation, large teams – I wouldn’t ever want to be the project manager who has to integrate this acquisition. It is a thankless job, and at the end of the integration, all you accomplish is that the combined product falls way behind nimbler companies like Zoho. Salesforce has done these deals before, without ever integrating them. Let me enumerate.

About 3 years ago, Salesforce acquired Heroku, shelling out $212 million for the company. Just last week, the Heroku founder announced he was leaving. Visit Heroku.com and see if you can detect any sign of Salesforce anywhere. How is that for deep integration? From a business point of view, can anyone claim that Salesforce is on track to recoup the substantial investment it made in acquiring Heroku? Now, visit Do.com and Desk.com – both of which Salesforce acquired a while ago – yeah, there is nice logo level integration, I will give them points for that. Try to sign in with your Salesforce account in any of these sites.

The Salesforce playbook is simple. Benioff feels restless, he sees stagnation, sees companies like Zoho continuing to innovate, he just goes out and does a blockbuster deal to feel good, more money the better. Who cares if the acquisition actually pays off long term? This playbook can only work as long as the stock price keeps levitating – and for that, let’s give credit where it is due: it is not Benioff, it is Bernanke. How companies with continuing losses year after year could reach a valuation of nearly 10x annual revenue is a topic by itself, but that would take me on a major tangent on our broken bubble-blowing monetary policy, and the wanton stupidity of policy makers like Bernanke.

I am putting my conviction to the test. We are expanding our investment in R&D in Zoho. We see a massive opportunity to seize leadership in the cloud because we believe the Salesforce strategy is going to fail long term. They already face engineering stagnation – their core SFA product hasn’t improved in years. Second, they have to try to stick it to customers to make the money back on these blockbuster deals. The end result is that customers will revolt and seek alternatives. While our strategy of investing in R&D is slower in the short run, as we gain speed over time, our breadth and depth increases. Here is our promise to customers: we will continue to out-innovate Salesforce, while offering incredible value.

How can we make that promise? Simply because we don’t throw around money like them. We owe it to you, the customer, to be efficient, and pass on the results of efficiency in terms of lower prices. We don’t do ego-boosting acquisitions to create hype in the short term, only to be forgotten a couple of years later. Instead, we hire engineers and write code, because we believe that serves our customers better.

Zoho is already beating Salesforce on Internet reach, on the sheer number of new organizations signing up for our platform month after month. We will continue our relentless execution.

Work & Coffee: The Unbreakable Bond

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Some will say a good night’s sleep or a hot breakfast is essential to starting out your day. However, most people can be found with their hands glued to cups of coffee in the mornings.

Coffee, often affectionately named as a person’s fuel source, is said to be essential for a productive day. How did coffee become imperative for work? Let us know your theories!

In the meantime, see below for some fun facts on coffee and the workplace. See anything surprising? Tell us what you think in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Work and Coffee Infographic

How Visuals Can Immediately Improve Your Small Business

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Steve Jobs

Photo courtesy of ZDNet

Let’s play a game. I’m going to describe a painting, using only words, and you have to try and guess it as quickly as possible. Don’t worry, you shouldn’t have to be an art history major to figure this one out.

Okay, here we go:

Night has fallen across a sleepy rural town tucked in the foothills of a small mountain range. In the center, a church steeple reaches to heaven like the countless prayers echoed behind its walls. Above, a tapestry of blues and purples swirl across the canvas, crashing like waves on a shore — a blanket of tranquility protecting the townspeople below.

Any guesses? Don’t worry, I’ll keep going.

It’s nighttime, but the sky is not dark. No, it is a flare with 11 golden stars and a waning crescent moon, each enveloped in an eternal glow like candles at an all-night vigil. 

I hope by now, most of us know the painting I’m talking about. It’s Vincent van Gogh’s, “The Starry Night,” one of the most famous works of art in history.

Almost everyone has seen a picture of this painting at least once in his or her life. It’s absolutely breathtaking — a masterpiece. But something gets lost when you read about it instead of seeing it. No matter how eloquently one may describe a painting or sculpture, nothing quite compares to seeing the brushstrokes and emotion with your own eyes. (Seriously, read the description again, then look at the painting here. It’s no contest).

Keeping this in mind, why should your business or sales presentation be any different? Visuals are just as important when talking with an audience or to a client as they are anywhere else. You need more than words.

Making the Most of Visuals for Your Business

Statistics show that 65 percent of humans are visual learners and that the brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text. Therefore, if you’re giving a presentation without some type of visual, you’re ignoring a majority of your audience before you even begin.

So let’s look at a few ways you can start using images and visuals for your business’ website or during your sales presentations to further engage your audience and hopefully attract more clients:

1. Product Videos for Your Website

Videos are one of the most effective ways to present information about your company or product without a large financial investment. Consider making some short videos to help explain your products to potential customers, especially if your product works well with a visual demonstration. A simple video can go a long way in not only improving your image as a “current” company, but it also keeps website visitors engaged longer than other media.

2. Effective Slide Shows during Presentations

The days of boring slide presentations are over. New technology lets you create visually enticing and interactive presentations to keep your audience engaged throughout your presentation, so don’t be afraid to flex your creative muscles. These aren’t your normal slide shows. Think of the late Steve Jobs when announcing a new Apple product. More images, more movement and less bullet points. Draw your audience in and keep them there. If you are describing features or an update on a new product, show the audience what it does, don’t tell them.

3. Communicate A Lot of Information without Saying Much

In today’s world, you don’t have long to get your point across. Just look at popular new mobile applications like Vine or Snapchat. Users have six seconds of video or a pictures that disappears after five seconds to get their point across. If you want to communicate a large amount of information with someone, you need visual representations – infographics, charts, etc. Anything that can convey 15 minutes worth of information into about 15 seconds. Otherwise, your audience is moving on.

I realize the irony in presenting the above information without many visuals. Believe me, I wish words could come across as beautifully as the effervescent glow surrounding the stars and moon of Van Gogh’s painting. There is a place for written content and oral presentations, but if you can start thinking of your marketing in terms of visual representations, you will immediately improve its effectiveness.

Introducing Zoho Vault, Online Password Manager for Teams

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While the excitement over the announcement of Zoho Pulse, the social network for businesses is fresh in the air, here comes yet another announcement. We are glad to introduce Zoho Vault, an easy-to-use online password manager for teams and businesses.

Same password everywhere is a potential security threat

With a variety of online applications occupying every aspect of our lives, we cannot get rid of passwords. Human memory has its obvious limitations and it is a tough task to remember even a handful of passwords. This naturally forces us to coin an easy-to-remember password and use the same everywhere  - social media, banking, brokerage and other business accounts. Password reuse is a potential security threat. If the password gets exposed in one of the sites, in all probability, hackers would be able to easily gain access to all your other accounts too. Here comes the big question: How do we use unique, strong passwords without worrying about remembering them?

Your former colleague could still have access to your accounts

The case with business establishments are still more complex. With the proliferation of password protected online accounts and IT assets, businesses are drowning in a pile of passwords. The sensitive business passwords are mostly stored in volatile sources like Excel spreadsheets, printouts and text documents; insecurely shared among work groups without relevant protection; passwords are reused across sites and applications and still worse, weak and easy-to-remember passwords are often assigned. There is absolutely no trace on ‘who’ is accessing ‘what’ and a former employee could still be accessing your accounts. Obviously, this haphazard style of password management leaves the organizations open to security attacks and identity thefts.

Zoho Vault solves your password problems

Zoho Vault helps you securely store all your passwords, online credentials, financial records and other sensitive information in a centralized repository, generate strong, unique passwords, organize them for easy access and management and also safely share them among work groups. It solves all the problems related to storing, sharing and managing the passwords.

zoho-vault

The market is flooded with password managers – personal password managers on the one end and enterprise solutions on the other end of the spectrum. While the personal password managers fail to cater to the specific needs of businesses, the enterprise solutions prove to be too complex and expensive. Zoho Vault bridges this crucial gap by offering a feature-rich, easy-to-use, highly secure and affordable online password management solution, which can be put to production within a few minutes.

Highlights of Zoho Vault

Safe, secure and offers complete data privacy

Passwords are encrypted with the strongest known encryption standard AES-256. The encryption key is entered by the user and it is not stored anywhere. Server holds only encrypted data and the encryption key never leaves your browser. Thus, the passwords remain completely private and only you can decrypt and view the data, not anyone else, including Zoho employees.

Secure sharing among work groups

Provision to securely share passwords among the trusted members of the organization with different access privileges. The sharing process has also been designed to follow the highest levels of information security and privacy standards. Sharing can be enabled or revoked real-time just by a single click.

Direct login to websites & applications

Once you deploy Zoho Vault, you will never be required to type or copy-paste passwords to login to websites or applications. You can launch direct connection to all websites and applications from Zoho Vault GUI, without even viewing the password.

Appealing to businesses of all types, sizes

Zoho Vault has been designed keeping in mind the requirements of businesses of all sizes and types, including SMBs, Enterprises, MSPs, Online Marketing Firms, Web Professionals, and IT teams that are struggling with shared passwords.

Tools & Utilities

  • Grouping of passwords and secrets for better access and management
  • Clear-cut ownership for all passwords; Provision to transfer ownership when someone leaves the organization
  • Provision to enforce password policies
  • Import and export passwords and secrets
  • Secure offline access mechanism for passwords and secrets
  • Comprehensive audit trails for all user actions
  • Two factor authentication for increased security
  • iPhone app for access to passwords while on the go

Absolutely FREE for personal use and affordable for businesses

Zoho Vault is available in two editions – personal and enterprise. The Personal Edition is completely free and allows having one user. The Enterprise Edition is priced at $1/user/month. Refer to the Zoho Vault pricing page to know more about the editions.

Sign up for a 15-day free trial, credit card not required

You can sign up for a fully functional 15-day trial without taking out your credit card. The trial version allows you to test with five users. Try Zoho Vault now!