Group Calendar Support & Other Neat Updates in Zoho Calendar

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There is no refuting the fact that be it work, family or friends, in order to get things done, it is necessary to be on the same page as a group or with your group.

Group CalendarAt times, it is crucial for each person in a group to be aware of everyone’s calendar of activities. This is tough considering other complications like employees in the same company sitting at different time zones, teams changing frequently and what not.

Well, in relation to these thoughts, we are glad to share with you the latest update to Zoho Calendar. We have added group calendar support and other neat features to help you close these communication gaps and collaborate more effectively with your co-workers, team mates and groups.

Group Calendar
It can be overwhelming to plan and track group activities, especially when someone is a part of many groups. In Zoho Calendar, you can now create separate group calendars with different lists of members and also subscribe to other group calendars. Members granted access to these group calendars can create and modify their events, view events of other members and always be in sync with team proceedings.

You can view all your group events combined as a single unified view to get a feel of how stuffed or free you actually are. If you feel your combined view is far too busy, you can right click on a particular group calendar to load it up in a separate tab and then make some event modifications in individual calendars if necessary.

Send / Receive invitations across calendars
We realize that preferences vary from one person to the other and there are many other calendar applications in use. You can now send event invitations and receive RSVP from users of other calendars too. This is made possible through email event notifications via Zoho Mail, playing the part of a mediator between the two calendar services. What is neat is that even if the host does not check his mail, the calendar is kept up-to-date.

Add/View events in different timezones
Scheduling events with participants on different time zones can be really tricky. A little miscalculation of half hour and late arrival for a webinar with a good prospect can be quite damaging. In Zoho Calendar, you can now add /view events in different time zones without having to mess with the time zone of your calendar.

Merge multiple calendars & embed
Embedding your calendar of events on your blog or website is a good way to keep your fans and followers intrigued. If you are someone who maintains multiple calendars, you can now merge events across several calendars and embed a single view. So when you have a form for people to request appointments, they will be able to exactly know when you are free.

Check this what’s new page to learn more about these latest updates to Zoho Calendar. We are confident that these updates will make it easier for you to manage your group activities, events and meetings.

Do post your comments on how these updates worked out for you and other suggestions on improving the Zoho Calendar experience.

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

Introducing Mobile Apps for CRM, Projects & Docs

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At the Zoholics event today in San Francisco, we introduced three new native mobile applications.

Zoho CRM on Android
Zoho Projects on iPhone
Zoho Docs on Android

Zoho CRM on Android is the most requested mobile app. We launched the application today in Google Play (Market) and is available for free for users with CRM Mobile edition enabled. The application offers offline access to your CRM data from a broad range of modules – Leads, Accounts, Contacts, Potentials, Tasks, Events, Calls & Cases. You can view, edit and delete data from your mobile.

With this release, Zoho CRM is now available on iPhone, Android & Blackberry along with our mobile web app.

Zoho Projects for iPhone is also announced at the Zoholics event today. This app brings three key modules to the iPhone – Activities, Tasks & Timesheet. You can now create edit and close your project tasks on the go. With the in-build timer, you can start/stop timers for multiple tasks to record work hours on the go that can subsequently be logged into the project Time Sheet for billing.

The app also allows you to record text and voice notes for tasks and for quick capture of events and status on the move. No matter what you do, all your data is always in sync with Zoho Projects.

The application will be available on AppStore very soon for users with Mobile Edition enabled in Zoho Projects. (UPDATE: It’s available now)

Zoho Docs for Android is also introduced at the Zoholics event today. It offers the same set of features we have on our iPhone and iPad apps. You can now view your private and shared documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more on the go, on your phone.

Apart form these three apps, we are also previewing few other mobile apps exclusively for Zoholics attendees. We will talk about those in this blog at a later date.

Announcing Zoho Sync: Push Mail And Mobile Sync Service

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Zoho Sync for Mobile Devices

We made a new year resolution to keep our services in tune with the ever evolving world, especially with respect to the rapidly growing smartphone and tablet segment. Today, we are glad to announce the release of Zoho Sync for mobile devices. You can now get automatic notifications PUSHed to your mobile phone or tablet when new emails arrive and your device’s local mail, contacts and calendar applications will sync with the web client in real time.

Zoho Sync for Mobile Devices

What’s neat is that this 2-way synchronization happens over-the-air, in the background (provided an internet connection is available) and once turned on, does not require any further manual intervention. So wherever you are, however occupied you might be doing other things, your mobile device will be up-to-date with the latest messages, event updates and contact information.

Zoho Sync functions using your mobile device’s Microsoft Exchange® ActiveSync® (EAS) account support and does not require any additional software. Since almost all the latest IOS, Android and Windows mobile devices support EAS, you can easily enable Zoho Sync on most mobile devices that run on these popular platforms. If you want to sync only mail, only mail and calendar but not contacts and so on, you can specify your options in your device’s EAS account settings.

ZSync Exchange Account Setup     ZSync Automatic Notification

So how is using Zoho Sync better compared to the typical IMAP setup? Let’s see:

  • Instead of your mobile device having to check (poll) for updates at regular intervals, notifications are pushed from the server to the device. This improves battery life.
  • You’ll receive automatic notifications on your phone the instant a new email arrives.
  • You’ll receive automatic notifications about new calendar events and event updates the instant the changes are made.
  • Email, calendar and contacts related actions you perform on your mobile will automatically reflect on your web client and vice versa. For example, when you read an email on your mobile, it is marked as read when you log in to the web client later on.

During our in-house tests, the syncing was smooth on the iPhone, iPad and Windows mobile devices. However, we did experience issues with certain models of Android phones. This is because of limitations induced by the customized Android versions shipped by the individual mobile makers and we are continuously working on overcoming them.

So go ahead and set up Zoho Sync on your mobile device and let it tell you that ‘You’ve got mail!’, as soon as it arrives. Be warned that once you turn on push notifications, your phone could be buzzing continuously and you might get addicted to checking mail. And do make sure you back up data before setting up the EAS account because existing data might be removed.

And please help us by sparing a few minutes in providing feedback about how this worked for you.

Has your phone started dinging yet? Coz…. you’ve got mail!

Update (26th June, 2012): Zoho Sync support is now available in all plans. Previously it was open only to users in organizations with their email hosted under the Zoho Mail Standard 15GB plan. Please request the administrator of your organization to go to the Control Panel and ensure that Zoho Sync is enabled for users. This is explained in the list of Zoho Mail feature updates made on Feb 06, 2012.

You asked, We listened. More control over your CRM

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@headhunter: @zoho ROCKS … new CRM GUI is just simply STUNNING….Would  have to be one of the best web apps I have EVER seen – EVER – Usability PLUS!

This was one of the responses to the public launch of our new UI.

It has been just a month since we launched the new look of Zoho CRM and the response we received was encouraging. The whole idea of the change was to make all our customers more productive at work.

Most of you liked the change. But, not everyone’s tastes are the same. We understand. A few of you who were still accustomed to the old UI felt that you were missing some functionality.

You asked, we listened and here are the updates that we have made…

Reflect your priorities. Customize Business Card View

For Sales Reps who just want to focus on selling and not on data entry, the business card view gives instant access to customer information. As a user, you could also change the fields – so, if you prefer to see the contact’s mobile number instead of the email id, you could set it from a list.

While this is very helpful, some of our users also asked for an option to change the priorities of the fields. For example, here’s a comment we received in our forums:
The problem with the business card view is that it does not reflect my priorities, but someone else’s. When I click through on a contact, I do not want to see my own name. Nor would I have chosen the items you have chosen…”

We now have that option. You can not only select the fields but also change their order. There’s more. In case you feel that you do not want to see the instant information, you can hide it too.

How do you benefit from this? More customer information on the screen and minimal scrolling. Less scrolling means you can get to your information faster.

Do not want the Quick Actions? Hide It.

Quick Actions – these are the basic actions you can take from a record’s detail page. For example, if you want to add a task related to a contact, it’s easy to do so right from the contact’s detail page itself.

This is a time-saver! But it is not necessary that you’d want to use these links always. Like this comment we received: “These ‘Quick Actions’ to the right of the new business card also have no useful function for me. Sorry to be so negative, but this is the truth. I just don’t use them...”.

You can now choose to hide the Quick Actions from a record’s detail page and work the way you want to.

Wide Screen? No problems now!

Previously, we had set a fixed width of the page. Customers who are using wide screens or high resolution monitors told us that this wasn’t pleasing to the eye. “We rely heavily on the wide screen view for all of our data to be visible and this new UI does not scale automatically…“, was a comment we received.

With the latest update, you can choose the layout that you prefer. Fixed or Wide Screen, Zoho CRM fits your screen just the way you want it!

Sticky Recent Items

In our new interface, we changed the Recent Items list to a drop-down at the top menu bar. It could be clicked and used whenever needed. But then, you could not keep those items in view always.

This is another option we have provided now. You can pin the Recent Items list to your screen while you navigate within your account. You can always close it once you are done.

Let your CRM match your company’s image

A cleaner, clutter-free look. This is what we achieved with the colors that we had selected for the new UI. Color preferences can vary, of course. For example, we received a comment like this: “But if I could “skin” my UI to match my company colors, I’d feel a little more in control of what changes were coming my way…

Zoho CRM already had the ability to add your company’s logo to your account. And now, with custom themes, you can set the colors for your tabs and also choose a different background. Your account will look unique and match your company’s brand image.

We understand that every user has different work patterns. Thank you very much for your feedback and we hope that you like these updates.

Any other ideas? Let us know in the comments below.

- Sharanya R

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!



Salesforce vs Zoho: The Reality

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I just noticed this
tweet from @Sesiri
who recently migrated from Salesforce to Zoho CRM.

In his blog post (I recommend reading the entire post), Sesiri talks about the email Salesforce sent explaining why Salesforce thinks they are better than Zoho. They had 5 points in the email. I believe some of these points are misguided or simply not true. I want to clarify these points in this post.

First, regarding commitment to CRM success

Zoho CRM is one of many applications offered by Zoho. Zoho’s parent company AdventNet, a provider of software development services, has also has invested in another CRM offering. How much innovation and focus on CRM success can be expected from such a diverse company with limited resources?

Thank you Salesforce for acknowledging our broad portfolio. Companies don’t run on CRM alone. They need various pieces of software to run their business efficiently. At Zoho, we want our small business customers (remember them, Salesforce?) to focus on running their business, not their IT and certainly not their CRM. If it means offering several applications, pre-integrated for a good value, we do it.

We are not in the business of extracting every penny from the customer to sell a CRM app. What are the advantages of offering a broad portfolio? Integrations. Look at some of the
integrations
we did just in the year 2010. This list doesn’t even include our integration with Invoicing, web conferencing, accounting and many other apps. Try this with Salesforce.

Also, Zoho.com’s parent company is ‘Zoho Corp’, a software company and not a ‘software development servicescompany’. Yes, there is a big difference. We are not an outsourced services company. We have been a product company for 16 years.

Regarding Best of Breed email integration, Salesforce says…

Zoho CRM offers limited Outlook integration at an additional charge, but lacks the ability to create contacts from emails, link emails to opportunities, or schedule automatic calendar synchronization. Zoho CRM forces customers to use its Zoho Mail product at an additional cost in order to integrate to more popular email applications like Gmail.  Finally, Zoho CRM does not offer the ability to track when email messages are read, leaving users wondering if their emails are received at all.

Our Outlook add-on syncs Contacts, Calendar events and Tasks with Zoho CRM with a single click. Regarding email integration, we think the current plugin based approach that is used in the industry is history. If you ever looked at our integration with Zoho Mail, you’ll know what I mean. You’ll now be able to see your email entirely in Zoho Mail as a tab. Also, you can view all your email exchanges (like email threads) with a contact, lead etc. It just doesn’t end there. You can even share your email exchanges with other sales people in your team to get better idea on what is going on. Can this be done in outdated approach of Salesforce? I don’t think so. Why? Zoho does Email which Salesforce doesn’t. This is another advantage of a broad product portfolio.

Regarding the price, our email module is $3/month add-on. That still keeps Zoho CRM’s pricing at $15/month. If you are migrating from Salesforce, I am sure your response will be similar to Sesiri’s.

Considering the price, I think Zoho still beats in several hundreds, or may be more than a grand.

Regarding Document Management Integration, Salesforce says…

Zoho CRM does not offer a central repository for vital documents directly in the application. Further, Zoho CRM cannot generate a mail merge document into its own Zoho Writer product.

Zoho offers a central document repository in Zoho Docs. CRM is not the kind of application that is used by every employee in a business. But apps like Email or Document Management are used by every one in a business. Because we don’t come from a CRM centric world, we let you place document where they actually belong. If you want to attach documents to a lead/contact, you can do so within Zoho CRM, not just from Zoho Docs, but other document management apps like
Google Docs as well. Of course, our Web Tabs let you add our entire document management app within Zoho CRM.

One of the benefits you get with our document management module is the integrated office suite. You can optionally view the documents online using our office apps without having to rely on ‘installed software’.

Regarding the claim that we cannot do mail merge with our own word processor….not true. Zoho CRM does mail merge with Zoho Writer along with Microsoft Word. Being the ‘No Software’ company, do you do mail merge with any online word processor?

What’s interesting here is that Salesforce is claiming that we don’t integrate well enough with traditional software (Outlook, Email Apps etc). So much for their ‘No Software’ mantra.

While we have several advantages on the product side over Salesforce, there is one key advantage you get with Zoho on the sales side. We don’t do forced sales. Existing Salesforce customers will know what I mean.