Zoho Invoice – Android app gets a makeover this summer!

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Zoho Invoice android app has a slew of exciting updates this season. The first thing you are bound to notice is the clean, crisp UI and the slide drawer/ navigation. A slight swipe from the left to the right brings the app menu list at your service. Navigating to different modules is much more easier with the latest update.

android-invoice-appThere is more! We’ve added a simple and handy widget, which will now be a reason for iPhone users to be jealous of the android app. The cool widget allows you to quickly create an invoice, add an expense or log time for projects.

How do you bring it live on your home screen? On your home screen, drag and drop Zoho Invoice widget from the widget list available in your phone.

Finally, the much awaited ‘Print‘ option for invoices is now available on your android app through Google Cloud Print. You don’t have to run to your laptop every time to print invoices or estimates. Just click print on the invoice and the printer connected to your Google account will print it right away.

So that’s a lot of awesomeness coming your way. Head over to Google Play and update to the latest 1.7 version of our android app. Like always we’d love to listen to what you have to say. Drop us a line in the comments right below.

Dashboard Spotlight: Apple Inc. Earnings Analysis

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dashboard-spotlightApple is one company that has had a significant impact on the technology industry – and the public consciousness – for a long time. With its portfolio of innovative and cutting-edge products, it has managed to garner a vast customer base, and is a dominant player in many markets. In this post, we’ll be taking up various aspects of this company for analysis, and try to correlate specific points of interest with trends prevailing in the general industry, and among competing companies and products. Read more

Turning Ideas into Profits

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This is a guest post by Shabana Shiliwala, who owns The Financial Sort, a financial planning company based in Austin, Texas.

Venture capitalists hear lots of good ideas. The challenge is turning those ideas into businesses that generate profits. Building a successful business requires a combination of creativity and implementation.iStock_000022382917XSmall

If you’ve ever had any sales or management training, you know that one of the key strategies taught is understanding personality types. As a business owner, you need to be able to recognize two personalities in order to be effective at turning ideas into profits: the creative visionary type, who is always brimming with ideas but never seems to be able to take them any further, and the realization type, who may lack the ability to think creatively but knows how to make things happen. These personalities can complement each other perfectly when given the right environment and opportunity to work together. If you can find both personalities among your company’s leadership or staff, you’ve got that magic combination of innovation and execution that every business needs to succeed.

Cultivate strengths. By supporting the talents of each of these personality types, you can harness ideas and processes that will help your business stay competitive and fresh in the marketplace. For example, many creative types come up with their best ideas when they’re alone and free from distractions, so assigning them to work as part of a group may actually lower their productivity.

Harvest ideas. You know how all those brilliant ideas that only seem to happen during your morning shower are lost forever unless you write them down right away? Creative personality types are notorious for having so many ideas that most of them never see the light of day because there wasn’t an opportunity to communicate them. Capture your staff’s ideas by providing an outlet where the ideas can be recorded–an idea board. If you think it will increase participation, allow them the option to post ideas anonymously.

Stimulate ideas to develop. When choosing the area to place the idea board, pick one that’s frequently visited, promotes open discourse, and has an atmosphere where staff feel relaxed (since pressure stifles creativity), such as the break room. A large dry erase board, chalkboard or flip chart will not only provide plenty of space and ease for the creative personality types to record concepts, but the realization types are now able to see those ideas. Bringing them together could generate spontaneous discussions about feasibility, pros/cons and implementation issues, which help the ideas evolve into tangible actions.

Offer a forum to communicate ideas to management. How many great ideas don’t get implemented because they have to fight their way through a web of bureaucracy in order to get heard by the people who have the power to put them into practice? Unless management has the opportunity to hear them, all those ideas will never leave the break room. Whatever the size of your business, you probably already have regular meetings with your staff, the leadership team or your board of directors. Add a segment to the agenda where your staff can present their ideas.

Collaborate online. Implementing software that allows employees to openly communicate their thoughts and discuss ideas with even the highest level of management, is an effective way of collaborating in real-time. Brilliant ideas won’t get lost and the amount of sharing is unlimited. Try a company-focused social network or similar application to bring life to your workplace.

You probably already know the people in your business who can help you turn ideas into profits, you just need to make it easier for them to do it.

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.

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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.