I was fortunate to be invited to attend an analysts conference for Zoho Corporation. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Zoho, they have about 60 different SaaS applications for all aspects of running a business, including e-mail, calendar, CRM, accounting, reports, HR, e-mail marketing, help desk, meetings, and many, many more. The apps are sold individually, in four bundles (CRM Plus, Workplace, Finance Plus, and IT Management), or in a mega-bundle called Zoho One. I’ve been using Zoho One for a couple of months, and it’s been pretty amazing. Some of the things I’ve done with it include:
- Managed social media with Zoho Social,
- Set up CRM in Zoho CRM,
- Sent e-mail with Zoho Mail,
- Held meetings with Zoho Meeting,
- Collected data with Zoho Forms,
- Prepared expense reports with Zoho Expense, and
- Created reports with Zoho Reports.
Next up is conversion to Zoho Books, which looks very interesting as well.
The most interesting part is that the applications are designed to integrate with one another, and this is real, serious, “tongue in groove joint” integration, not an import posing as an integration. When I use Zoho Social, it identifies social interaction with my Zoho CRM contacts and accounts, and allows me to see the history of interaction with that account. The meeting tool is easy to use and similar in quality to a GoToMeeting or WebEx. The nice thing about Zoho is that they use these tools internally – so they actually work, and don’t require you to be a brain surgeon to do things with them. I was able to use all of them with little training. While I know that I need some training and configuration to get the most out of Zoho CRM, what I’ve been able to do with it is actually pretty amazing.
The future for Zoho looks even brighter. During the analyst event in California a few weeks ago, we saw Zia, Zoho’s virtual assistant, and had a presentation about how it will incorporate AI in the future to do a wide range of things, including:
- Allow me to interact with a virtual bot to get help in the system
- Automatically recognize data on receipts and audit expenses
- Suggest the best time to call your CRM prospects
- Recommend when you should post to social media to get the most interaction
- Take dictation and correct grammar in Zoho Writer