Push Comes to Shove

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In 2008, I wrote a post Why We Compete with Google, in response to the persistent question at that time “How can you guys survive Google in the online office space?”

My basic argument was that business software, due to its extensive sales and support requirements, simply does not have the productivity or profitability of consumer internet businesses, and could never produce the margins that Google enjoys in search or what Facebook enjoys in social networking today or for that matter how today’s margins at over-the-hill Yahoo and getting-there eBay compare to the still-hot Salesforce. I concluded that post (keep in mind it was written in 2008) with:

When push comes to shove – and there is a lot of very messy push and shove in the business software market -  Google’s resources are going to flow into figuring out how to monetize the humongous traffic of YouTube or compete in online auctions, rather than figure out a way to squeeze a bit more margin compared to Oracle or Adobe or Salesforce. That may explain why Google has been silent on CRM, Project Management, Invoicing or HR type of tools, because those markets don’t offer the profit potential they already enjoy.

Well, today, the Wall Street Journal has a well-researched post by Clint Boulton, Google Organizational Changes Cloud the Future of Apps. On purely strategic grounds, the enterprise business is very sales and support intensive, and it does not have the potential to offer Google-y margins. Microsoft achieved its 90% operating margin due to its monopoly pricing power, and the emergence of the cloud and mobile devices, in part thanks to Google’s role, has eroded that pricing power. So it was always clear, to me at least, that Google was in this game to make sure Microsoft does not have the infinite cash to keep throwing money at search. As Google’s strategic threat from Microsoft fades into the rearview mirror while Facebook emerges as a strong potential threat, I predicted that Google would naturally lose interest in what remains a fundamentally inferior business to their own core business. Senior executives in Google in charge of the Apps business seem to be reading the tea leaves, as Boulton reports. There have been a slew of executive departures and other organizational changes in the Google Apps division.

Signs are emerging that Google is de-emphasizing its efforts in online productivity tools that compete with Microsoft, which was never the core of its business to being with, to focus even more on search and social networking, and its increasing competition with Facebook.

Google Apps has had some churn to its core leadership as the company evolves under CEO Larry Page, including the loss of Dave Girouard as vice president of Apps and president of Google’s Enterprise business. Girouard, who joined Google in 2004, oversaw the development and launch of Apps for businesses. He left April 6 and no successor has been named.

A source familiar with Google Apps told CIO Journal: “I was personally shocked to see Dave G leave. That was his baby, and he was so invested in it.”

At Zoho, of course, we have patiently been investing in R&D, while building our business for the long haul. We came to the conclusion a while ago that ad-driven consumer internet business is a poor fit for a business-focused suite of apps. In an ad-driven business, the users are the product, to be packaged and sold to advertisers. When you ask someone to directly pay for something, as a visitor or a user becomes a customer, the very nature of the engagement changes.

That’s why since the very beginning we have never funded our business through advertising. We’ve made a commitment to our users that we’ll never display ads, not even in our free products, and that we’ll never sell their data to a third party so that they can be “better targeted”. We’ve understood since the beginning that advertising and business applications just don’t mix.

We will continue to execute to provide a compelling, ad-free cloud experience in our Zoho suite of apps, particularly Zoho Mail and the Zoho Office suite. We respect the engineering prowess at Google, and indeed, we will continue to actively participate in the Google Apps marketplace, but ultimately whether a business makes sense or not is not an engineering question alone. In that sense, I am not at all surprised that someone high up at Google looked at the business question of the Apps suite, and came to the conclusion that was obvious from the start.

Our deep, existing integration into the Google Apps suite makes it really easy to migrate customers from Google Apps. We welcome Google Apps users to Zoho, and we are very happy to provide migration free of charge!

Now, what about the other elephant in the room? Microsoft Office365 is going to be a formidable player, but so far, their execution in the cloud and in mobile is less than terror-inducing, to put it mildly. Our Mail & Office suite are written from the ground up to be in the cloud, on tablets and smart phones. We will continue to invest in R&D to make them stronger, and, unlike Microsoft, we will provide first-class support to all the devices out there, including the iPad, the iPhone and Android-based devices. Of course, we will also continue to integrate our Mail & Office suite with our other business apps, including our rapidly gaining CRM.

CRM Step 1: Automate Sales. CRM Step 2: Automate Sales.

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Adam Stone, CEO of D-Tools, is a self-admitted automation super geek. “Anything you have to do more than twice has to be automated,” said Stone. “I would rather have [my employees] honestly going skiing than do any automated repetitive task.”

At D-Tools, Stone’s entire sales process is automated. I want my sales people to focus on customers. I don’t want them to worry about who to call next or what their pipeline is. That should all be automatic. And that’s the situation D-Tools has now.

“We always know what to sell to who and when,” said Stone.

“When people tell me they don’t use CRM or don’t understand CRM. I almost can’t go on with the conversation anymore because you’re not even at that same level where you think there’s value in that,” Stone said. “The amount of money we spend on Zoho CRM versus what we get out of it is 100 times investment return.”

As for Stone’s advice on what to automate first, he said, “The first thing you should automate is sales and the second thing you should automate is sales.”

“The most important thing is get your sales in order,” said Stone. “Make sure your sales people are happy. Because if your sales people are happy, and you’re the company owner, you’re going to be happy eventually. Guaranteed.”

Zoho Recruit: Post Jobs on Glassdoor

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Today we are here to let you know the availability of yet another job board integration – Glassdoor.com.

Glassdoor is the largest online career community, offering an inside look at companies and access to millions of job listings. Glassdoor helps employees, job seekers, employers and recruiters find and share salary, ratings, reviews & interview information for more than 150,000 companies.

You can post your jobs to Glassdoor, directly from within Zoho Recruit – Online Recruitment Software. Once the candidate applies to the job opening, the candidate details are captured inside Zoho Recruit.

We hope you like it! There’s lots more cool features coming soon, so stay tuned.

Customer spotlight: Mobafone simplifies its accounting with Zoho Books

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Mobafone case studyOur accounting software continues to entice the customers by simplifying and streamlining their accounting processes. One of our happy customers, Jerome Schultz, General Manager of Mobafone GmbH found Zoho Books to be perfect for his business needs. His company engages in mobile application development and mobile service consultation. Being in the industry for more than a decade, the company aims to create unique customer experiences in the mobile internet space by developing the most innovative mobile apps.

Jerome is based in Germany but he frequently visits Mobafone’s offices in Thailand and Indonesia. Jerome would be away from Germany for almost half a year which means he has to record mutiple transactions while he is on the move. As Mobafone’s operations spans three countries, accounts have to be up-to-date which would also involve multi-currency transactions.

The company which already uses some of Zoho’s apps such as Zoho Creator and Zoho Projects was exploring for a cloud-based accounting software. The most vital reason that prompted Mobafone switch to our accounting software was Zoho Books’ integration with Google Apps and also that it is cloud-based.

Now that, Zoho Books simplifies bookkeeping and keeps Mobafone’s accounts in control. Managing accounts in multiple countries and currencies is not a painful task anymore. Click here to read the complete story as how Zoho Books saves time and improves productivity for Mobafone.

Announcing Zoho Commentbox – Online Feedback Management Software

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Managing feedback can get tricky. In an effort to simplify it, we introduce Zoho Commentbox.

Zoho Commentbox is a whole new way for you to create a feedback management portal and manage all your customer feedback instances, at one place. It gives your customers an opportunity to share their knowledge and ideas, and also lets other users search for a solution even without knocking your doors for help. Also, Commentbox helps you find the pulse of your customers and thus spend your time efficiently in improving your product.

Here is a sneak peek of what Zoho Commentbox is about.

Twitter Integration

Whenever someone talks about your product on twitter, the conversation is automatically pulled into Commentbox. When a specialist replies to it on Commentbox, a notification tweet is triggered to the conversation-starter, from a preferred twitter ID, without you having to even login to twitter separately. The entire conversation will be available for reference on Commentbox.

Zoho CRM Integration

Whenever a user logs into your Commentbox to contribute or ask for assistance, the user-details are added to Zoho CRM’s contacts module, automatically. This helps you look-up detailed information about every one of your customers.

Email to forum

Starting a forum topic and replying to one might never get easier. Configure an Email address you prefer. Whenever you wish to make a post, send mails to the configured Email address, and your post gets published on Commentbox. An email notification is sent to those who are following you or forum or sub-forum. To reply to the topic that you started, all they need to do is reply to that email. The response is published as a reply to your post.
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Embed feedback widgets

Commentbox feedback widgets can be embedded on your website or inside your product. That way, users can share their feedback right from within your product, without even having to navigate to another link.

Migration

If you have been hosting your community-driven discussions elsewhere, phpBB, vBulletin, Simple Machines Forum, Google Groups… anything! We offer easy migration, a hassle-free hand-off, and all the assistance you need to make the switch.

Here, is a list of other features you would love!

Get started with Commentbox today, and experience the hassle free online feedback management!!

Note : ​Existing Zoho Discussions users can continue to use it for as long as they wish without having to face any issues, or contact us to switch to Commentbox.

Zoho Recruit: Sponsored Jobs on Indeed.com

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Today, Zoho Recruit is happy to announce its next level of integration with Indeed.com. The integration will allow users to sponsor their jobs on Indeed from within Zoho Recruit. This increases exposure of your jobs and helps you to reach more candidates quickly.

How does it work?

  • Your jobs are highlighted on Indeed above the job search results
  • Sponsored jobs appear on the Indeed and across their extensive publishing network
  • Provides highly targeted candidates based on job seeker’s search queries
  • You only pay when job seekers click on your Sponsored Jobs to find out more
  • Low cost per click, per candidate and per hire

With over 60 million unique visitors and 1 billion job searched per month, Indeed.com is the most comprehensive search engine for jobs. A recent study found that Indeed is the leading source of hire for more than 700 employers.

Sponsor Jobs now and watch candidates pour in!

Happy Recruiting!

Sell Globally with Multiple Currencies

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Multi-currency

Picture these real-time business scenarios,

  • A big company from Japan is ready to buy your products in bulk, but can pay only in Japanese Yen and not in your local currency.
  • Your supplier (say diamond or gold mining company) from South Africa insists you to raise the Purchase Order only in Rand.
  • You’ve a large sales organization spanning across several countries with head quarters in United States. And in each country you’ve agreed do business in the local currency while obtaining license from the government agencies.
  • You’re running a B2C e-commerce portal to sell designer women’s brands, jewellery and accessories not only to the US customers but to an international audience.
  • You’re in a highly competitive segment and all your competitors are selling products in different currencies to acquire the market share.

Whether Small, Medium or Large, your company will experience one or many of the above scenarios either due to Government regulations or by your business model. Hence your CRM and Accounting software must support the sales transactions & receivables/payable in multiple currencies. Keeping in mind the business needs of companies who deal with such scenarios, we at Zoho CRM offer complete support for multiple currencies to all users of Enterprise Edition.

Let’s quickly take a look at some of the key features of multi-currency support,

As an Administrator you can,

  • Choose the Home Currency for your company.
  • Activate a list of currencies for your sales reps.
  • Update currency conversion rates periodically.

As a Sales rep you can,

  • Use the desired currency while entering amount field in potential or other modules.
  • Generate quotes, sales orders, invoices and purchase orders in different currencies.
  • View sales pipeline report in your home currency.

For detailed description, refer our online help. To make the multi-currency roll-out easier for your company, we’ve also published implementation guide and compiled a few FAQ.

Eating your own dog food: Multi-currency at Zoho Corp.

Zoho Corporation has offices in United States, India, Japan, China, and Singapore selling both on-premise and online software to tens of thousands customers in more than 150 countries. Even though our fiscal currency is USD, customers from India, Japan, China and Singapore, buy products only in Indian Rupee (INR), Japanese Yen (JPY), Chinese Yuan (CNY) or Singapore Dollar (SGD) respectively. As our Sales team across regions use a single Zoho CRM account to track sales activities, implementing multi-currency became very important.

As soon as this feature was ready for the Beta testing, we activated it in our company’s CRM account. Previously, our regional sales managers were manually converting the quoted amount to USD whereas the Finance team were raising invoices in local currency. Now, all of them are directly entering the amount only in the local currency. We also track the consolidated sales pipeline in home currency at the organization-level.

We hope that you’ll find this new feature very useful to go global & grow your business. Please give it a try and let us know your business scenarios, suggestions, and experiences in the Comments box. We will be happy to improve this feature further based on your feedback.

Happy Selling!
Gopal