Integration Between Zoho Apps: Part III

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This year we have focused a lot ​on contextual integration. This includes integration between Zoho Apps as well as integration with external apps. I want to briefly highlight some of the new integrations between Zoho Apps​ (also check Part I, Part II).

Zoho Wiki Integration with Zoho Projects

Zoho Wiki & Projects are two different types of collaboration tools. But when you have a need to collaboratively create content, then our Zoho Wiki integration with Zoho Projects can be really handy. Content can now be created in the context of the project you are working on. More details on this integration is available ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​here.

Introducing Zoho 'Actionable' Search

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Web searches are about getting to information quickly. In most cases, we don’t know where that information exists or in what form it exists. When we search, we expect to see information in different forms from different locations. In the consumer world, this works. But what about the business world? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

In a business context, we have a search box specific to every, single application — one for email, one for contacts, one for documents, etc — a separate search engine for each business application.

What if we had a single search engine that

  • Searches across entire business’ data, across multiple business applications
  • Has a deeper understanding of the inter-working of these business apps to display relevant information
  • Doesn’t just provide a bunch of links that redirects you to another app, but offers integrated and contextual action items relevant to what you are searching for
  • Understands your prvileges and permissions in various business applications and presents only the relevant search results
  • Is multi-dimensional; not only searches for ‘content’, but goes beyond it?

Here it is! We are excited to announce Zoho ‘Actionable’ Search — a unified search engine for your business running on Zoho.

Unified Search
Zoho Search indexes data from multiple Zoho Apps — Zoho Mail, Docs, Writer, Sheet, Show, Notebook, Discussions, Accounts and more — and offers a unique and unified approach to search. When you search for a keyword, it displays results from multiple apps in a single screen.

Zoho Search also categorizes the results based on commonly used/known facets (this is termed as “Faceted Search”), like application name, author etc., enabling you to easily & quickly navigate to the exact result that you are looking for.

Indexing the data from this broad set of applications is just one part; Zoho Search has a very deep understanding of every application it indexes and this results in
smart search results. Here is an example. If you search for content in Mail, Zoho Search not only displays the content of the mail, but also displays additional information such as the Folder in which this mail resides, Sent date, Sender Information etc.

Zoho Search also knows if the sender is currently on your buddy list, and based on that, it displays the current presence information (i.e whether the user is online/offline/busy etc) of the sender. How cool is that? It even knows how many mail accounts you have (including your POP accounts) and lets you search in other mail accounts. If no results are found in one email account, it automatically searches your other email accounts.

Zoho Search also has a deeper understanding of other Zoho Apps in similar ways. In the Documents section, for example, it searches the contents of the document, understands the document types, knows information about the
owner of the document—including their presence, knows if the document is shared by someone, and even includes information such as the last time the document was modified, etc.

Such deeper understanding of individual applications allow us to offer faceted search options for refining search results. We offer faceted search for Discussions and Document results.

Where Is the ‘Actionable’ Part, Then?
What good is search, if you can’t act on the information you find? So we implemented an actionable search allowing you to take actions on search results. If the search result is an email, you can view the email right within search results and even reply to that mail, all without having to open the email app.

As Zoho Search knows the sender information, it also offers actionable options, which we call “Connections“, to view mails sent to that user, mails received from that user and even chat with the user who sent you an email, right within search results.

This is, in fact, the case for the Documents section as well. Documents, spreadsheets, presentations and notebooks can be viewed within the search interface. Additional actions like sharing a document, chatting with the owner of the document, and viewing a document shared by/to you, are all available from the search results page.

Similar actionable options are available to other components as well.

Contextual Integration
We’ve been talking a lot about contextual integration, preserving users’ context and more. You’ll see this implemented in Zoho Search. In fact, when you search for something in Zoho Search, you can do most of the work directly within the search results—like viewing emails (without opening the mail app), viewing documents (again, without opening Writer, Sheet, Show, Notebook), chatting with users etc. All of these actions can be accomplished within the search context, in a single browser tab. As we said earlier, contextual integration is going to raise productivity levels, and this is just the beginning.

The below slide show offers an overview of Zoho Search.

Zoho Search is currently available @ http://search.zoho.com and is also integrated into Zoho Business (look for the ‘Search’ link at the top of the page). This universal search box will contextually be
integrated with all Zoho Apps as we move forward.

Please give Zoho Search a try and do share your feedback with us.