Zoho Reports: Cascading User Filters

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As you get to use a piece of software or application more and more, you tend to discover more and more about its capabilities. A little icon here, a shortcut key there – finding those hidden jewels results in Eureka moments that make you go, “Aha, so it’s done that way!” Sometimes, you may even find Easter eggs, cleverly placed by fun-loving programmers.

Before I digress further, let’s take the case of ‘User Filters’ in Zoho Reports. While continuing to use the drag-and-drop report designer, one day you might have noticed the third tab and asked yourselves, “How different is this ‘User Filters’ tab from the other ‘Filters’ tab?” and clicked on it. Then, as you first created your user filter, it may have dawned on you about how it works and how useful it is for the viewers of a report.

Till recently, though, there was one little niggle with user filters. Let me explain with an example. Say you are a Manager of a retail store that sells many ‘Products’. And these products fall under a few broad ‘Product Categories’. Now, let’s say you’d set up a user filter for ‘Product Category’ (for the report’s viewers to know how sales have fared in each category), and then you’d put in a second user filter for ‘Product’ (for viewers to further drill down sales based on products).

When a viewer chooses a ‘Product Category’ to view, what will her expectation be with the ‘Product’ user filter? To display products of that particular product category alone, right? Sadly, this wasn’t the case, and Zoho Reports simply continued to list products of all categories. This has been corrected now with the ‘List only relevant values’ option.

When a value is chosen in the first user filter, it cascades over the subsequent filters, giving the report’s viewers a better user experience.

Hope you liked learning about how the working of user filters has been improved now in Zoho Reports. If you notice a need for any such improvements when using other features, do let us know in the comments below or write to us at support@zohoreports.com. We’ll do our best to bring them in for you :)

Prototyping with Zoho Creator: A Unique use-case!

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Zoho was a platinum sponsor at this year’s CRM Evolution Conference, held in New York on August 10. The event brought together many CRM users and vendors, and although CRM was the focus of most discussions, we were looking forward to hearing about Zoho apps too.

And so, we were happy to hear from Charlie Isaacs, a Zoho Creator enthusiast. In addition to working with Alcatel-Lucent, Charlie also works as a social media strategist for Genesys Lab.

When asked about how Zoho Creator simplified his requirement, Charlie had something unique to tell us: he prototypes using Zoho Creator.

Listen to Charlie explain how he does it:

Whenever Charlie gets a new idea for a project, he prefers to use a prototype to propose his plan. He says, and we agree, that a prototype is almost always more compelling than a 20-page document. Charlie takes advantage of Zoho Creator as he builds form-based solutions. The advantage Zoho Creator has over MySQL, he says, is that MySQL doesn’t allow the association of a form on the front-end.

There is always Oracle and MySQL, but to get something up and running, Zoho Creator is there for me.

In addition to prototyping, Charlie also spoke about an interesting mobile application that he uses to read QR codes, which are looked up in a Zoho Creator database. Based on the information returned, like UPC codes, Charlie then dynamically constructs the menu on the handheld application.

Thank you, Charlie, for sharing with us two very new use-cases of Zoho Creator. We’re glad to hear that it only takes an hour with Zoho Creator to complete the prototypes, versus 8 to 10 hours without it.

Zoho Corp: Celebrating 15 Years of Success

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Zoho Corp is celebrating its 15th anniversary.

We
began our journey in 1996 as ‘Advent Network Management Inc’ and
reinvented ourselves to become ‘AdventNet Inc’ and most recently ‘Zoho
Corp
‘. We started offering products in a niche market (Web NMS), built a profitable business, re-invested in engineering to enter a larger market (ManageEngine), built a successful division and then entered the Business, Productivity & Collaboration market (Zoho). All along, we built this company with no external funding. We bootstrapped ourselves into a profitable business with over 1500 employees across 3 divisions.

During these 15 years, we have seen several economic bubbles and busts, several companies come and go, many companies acquired, but we stayed true to our goal of building a long-term business. In other words, unlike many companies you see here in silicon valley with a ’built-to-flip’ model, we have built a business with long term culture.

As Sridhar says


“We built this business to run it, not run away from it”

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our customers, employees, partners, well wishers and the entire Zoho ecosystem for continued support. We will continue to innovate and we are going to be around. 

Thank You!



Google Calendar/Contacts Sync for Zoho CRM Individual users

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Our Google Apps users have been thrilled with the Google Calendar and Contacts sync with Zoho CRM! This excitement has also trickled down to other Zoho CRM users, and comes to us in the form of repeated requests for extending this to all other users. 

Once again, we heard you loud and clear! And today we are glad to announce that we are extending this feature to all our Professional and Enterprise plan users.

Zoho CRM for Google makes it easier for your business to collaborate, communicate and share information, all in one centralized place. If you are using Zoho  CRM with your Google email address, your Calendar and Contacts are all conveniently available in the same place.

At Zoho, we want to make sure you get the most out of your user experience, so please let us know how you like this additional feature. Feel free to drop us a line if there are other enhancements you’d like to see. We love hearing from you! 

Begin customer relations before your business is up and running

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bernd_ruetzel_klein2_small

Bernt Ruetzel is literally building a small business. It’s a rental home in Italy, an old rustic home called Bogata Roggio. As he’s waiting for permits to start building, Ruetzel has launched a website and began engaging with prospective customers.

Here’s the rundown:

Business: Vacation home in Italy, Bogata Roggio.

The challenge: Initiate customer relations before business begins operations. Add custom fields specific to the needs of his customers.

How discovered Zoho: Stumbled on Zoho at his large company that wanted to use a CRM solution just for their department. He began playing around with it and realized it would be perfect to use for his small business.

Competitive analysis of CRM tools: He looked at and compared many CRM products including Salesforce.com. He feels that all the CRM systems are the same. What differentiates them is how easily can you customize the product for your specific business needs.

Unique use case of Zoho CRM: In Germany, school holidays change depending on what region of the country you live in. By asking a prospective customer their address and if they have kids, he can determine when they have free time to take a vacation. This allows him to better time his holiday requests and offers.

Advice for others: Ruetzel says users of CRM solutions need to spend more time upfront thinking about what you want to do rather than immediately implementing. It’s important to understand the entire process from getting a prospect, to sending an offering, getting pre-payment, final payment, follow up, and ultimately feeding those tips back into the system so he can improve his business process.

How do you want to follow with your customers? What are the steps you need to take? These will inform you as to what fields you’ll need to add to customize your CRM system, Ruetzel said.

Listen to the whole interview with Bernd Ruetzel here.

Zoho Support: Our new addition to Google Apps!

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So you’ve moved your business onto the cloud, subscribed for a Google Apps account and provided your employees the benefits of interacting with customers on the web. But how do you manage the plethora of daily customer e-mails and support tickets? Tracking these discussions (who replies to whom and when) can quickly become a nightmare. 





This is where

Zoho Support
comes in. As a full-fledged, web-based help desk service, Zoho Support can ease your process of managing customer needs and add value to all of your hard work! So today, we here at Zoho are excited to announce our latest addition to the Google Apps Marketplace: Zoho Support​​.





The Google Apps and Zoho Support Integration now lets you:








  • Use

    Single sign on

    for users to access Zoho Support directly from the universal navigation bar in Google Apps






  • Add users from Google Apps into Zoho Support

    as support representatives





  • Import contacts from Google Apps

    into Zoho Support as customers

To learn more about these features and more ways to use Zoho Support, check out

Zoho Support for Google Apps
.​​
You could also check out the list of all

Zoho services integrated with Google Apps
.

Apple’s Revenue History

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Apple’s revenue now is at a run rate of over $100 billion dollars, a good deal higher than that of Microsoft. Apple’s profits also well exceed Microsoft’s profits. Yet, Apple has only about 50% of the headcount of Microsoft. These things were utterly unthinkable just 5 years ago. One way to visualize this is to imagine Yahoo overtaking Google in the search market and in terms of overall revenue & profits (Google does about 6 times the revenue of Yahoo), and multiply that difficulty by 10-fold, because Yahoo actually still makes money, but Apple was losing a lot of money when Steve Jobs came back in 1996.

I assumed that Apple grew steadily from when Jobs came back. I was wrong. Here is the revenue trajectory of Apple all the way going back to 1981. Focus on the years after 1997.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Apple_Inc.#Financial_history

Notice the crisis in 96-97-98 when he came back – that was a stomach churning drop in revenue, which explains why he came back. But notice that 5 years after he came back, in 2002, Apple still had less revenue than in 1997 (in fact, it was less than they had as far back as1989!). During those 5 years between 1997-2002, revenue first went up, and then went down again during the recession in 2001-2. Even worse, Apple was again losing money in 2001, a full 4 years after he came back. Why is that relevant? Any normal person would have found it very hard to keep the spirit and motivation up at that time. Apple’s greatest years were ahead of them, but only one person would have possibly believed it – Steve Jobs. No one else, in 2002, would have believed Apple’s best days were ahead. From only 2005, did Apple really achieve that big burst of growth, and within just 6 years Apple has overtaken Microsoft.

Also notice the extreme variation in growth. Even after the iPod arrived, Apple’s growth rates has dipped as low as 14% and has gone as high as 68% (until 2011, when it scaled new highs). In the 2009 bust, Apple dipped to only 14% year-over-year growth. Yet, in 2011, driven by the boom in iPad, Apple is exceeding 80% growth without meaningfully adding any headcount. This is the track record Jobs has piled up. I don’t know it will ever be equalled in this industry again.