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As CloudContacts grows, I’ve been spending bits of time researching online helpdesk solutions. I’ve also had several discussions with a friend who is also looking for the same solution for his customer service and support inquiries. One of the first items for discussion is whether we want a locally-installed service or a cloud-based service.
Zoho has announced the release of their cloud-based help desk solution, Zoho Support. I’ve been a fan of Zoho products from the beginning (even if they don’t include CN on their blogroll). Zoho evangelist Raju Vegesna was one of my first interviews after I launched CN in late 2006.
Zoho Support is setup much like other help desk software providers. The system can be used when customers call in via the phone, email or web form. The Zoho Support service offers several feature categories: ticketing, reporting, tasks and an account manager for handling each customer and their SLAs). The reporting element of any help desk software might be the most important – the ability to group, categorize and monitor the types of support tickets is critical for any business. I think of the reporting section as the business improvement section.
The post below was authored by Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu.
The title provides a short answer to the question: Why do we integrate with Google Apps? An important emerging theme in cloud applications is the one-page or to be more accurate the one-browser-tab approach to design – i.e contextual integration of information across applications, so that whichever app the user happens to be, it pulls relevant information from other apps, and displays it in the right context. In the traditional desktop and client-server world, data is slave to the application that created it. In the cloud, data is liberated so it can contextually go where it is the best fit. We have used this as our architectural blueprint in Zoho, as we integrate Zoho services with each other (such as our CRM & Email integration), as well as in integrating Zoho with third parties.
Take the Google Apps marketplace announcement yesterday. At that event, there were plenty of demonstrations on how contextual integration works across vendors. Notable ones include Intuit Online Payroll integration with Google Calendar, Atlassian Jira.com integration with GMail/Docs/GTalk, and of course our own Zoho CRM and Zoho Projects integration with GMail/Docs. It is fair to say that every single case of integration demonstrated at the launch even yesterday takes the cloud based ecosystem functionality ahead of where traditional enterprise systems are capable of today. Even more important, we completed our integration with Google in under 2 months, even while they were still refining their APIs. We thank the Google team once again for inviting us to be a launch partner.
Why do we want to integrate with Google Apps? The most important browser tab, in a business context, is the one dedicated to email. Given that GMail is the cloud email provider of choice by far, it is natural for Zoho to integrate our suite with GMail and Google Apps. While we agree with Marc Benioff on enterprise apps taking design inspiration from Facebook (well, not too much inspiration, we are not sure we want to go around “poking” our customers!), we would also like to point out that email is where the majority of business users spend their time. Of course, given that Salesforce has no email strategy, it is natural for them to try to redefine the market away from email and towards social networking. This is Salesforce’s third attempt at making their CRM a business app platform, but unfortunately for them, email is a far more natural starting point than CRM – we say that as a company that has a strong CRM suite. Besides, to be a real platform, you have to have a degree of openness, and our experience with Salesforce demonstrates the opposite, and sets up a direct contrast to Google’s platform approach.
Over the past week online office provider Zoho has had a bit of fun leading up to announcing their new product launch. First they teased us with a riddle, then they posted a tetris-style image of the new service. Today they have announced that the new product is Zoho Projects 2.0.
The idea is that this new version adds a “social layer” to the more traditional project management tools. Zoho notes on the Projects 2.0 release, “Zoho Projects 2.0 goes beyond the traditional ‘project management’ space and helps people work together to achieve a common goal. It’s not just about tasks, milestones and priorities (but we do that too of course). It’s about how people interact and what they need while working on something – whether it’s a local team or a distributed team, an internal team, or a customer-facing one.”
I love this line, “Many times when we hear ‘Project’ he instantly think of a PMI-certified guy with a huge Gantt chart taped in his office door. But every team is always working in some sort of project, whether that’s formally defined or not. And that is where Zoho Projects helps.” Gosh I miss those corporate America Gantt charts each and every day!
Krishnan Subramanian at Cloudave has a great writeup of the Zoho Projects 2.0 launch. Here’s a short video describing the new product:
Continue reading “Remember That Zoho Secret Launch? It’s Zoho Projects 2.0” »
This weekend Online office and tools provider Zoho announced that they are launching a new product this week. They didn’t provide any details except a mad libs comment. Today they posted a bit more about the upcoming launch.
What we know as of tonight:
- The new service will incorporate at least 5 of the current Zoho apps
- The new service will integrate with a popular Microsoft product (it’s not sharepoint)
I would like to caution other startups before they try this “peek-a-day” launch method. It works for Zoho because they are huge and well respected. It’s not something I would suggest any startup use as a launch strategy.
Here’s a screenshot of what the app will look like using Tetris-vision:
So leave your ideas in the comments. It looks like there will be some nav bar across the top (blue) and some sort of menu or widgets on the left (brown). It’s probably not Zoho-Flight Simulator.
Some startups give exclusives (sadly)… some startups go with embargoes… some startups just go. Online office and tools provider Zoho has announced that they will be launching “something” this week. They promise that the launch will happen before July 4th.
This is all we have to go on from the blog post:
“We also promise you will really really like this new shiny thing. It will change the way you _________ (can’t tell you that just yet, as it’d give it away). In fact, we challenge you to try out Zoho _________ for a month, and then you’ll wonder how you worked without it before.”
Leave your thoughts in the comments on what Zoho will be launching. The ideas on the Zoho thread include a Zoho toolbar for Firefox, Zoho Store, new reports implementation and complete online and offline functionality for all Zoho tools. There was another idea that it’s the launch of Zoho Cheeseburgers but that was denied quickly as apparently Zoho doesn’t want to get Grimace mad.
Last year online office provider Zoho partnered with Baihui and entered the Chinese market and they also partnered with Swisscom in Europe. Last week Zoho announced a new distribution deal with NTT in Japan. The Zoho distribution is part of a bigger effort by NTT to create a cloud environment. The cloud platform is named “Setten”, the Japanese word for “contact point” or “interface.”
NTT notes regarding the new Setten offering, “The platform will provide operating systems, storage and software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, including AdventNet K.K.’s Zoho Writer, Zoho Sheet, Zoho Show, Zoho Mail and NTT Resonant’s Business goo.”
Zoho evangelist Raju Vegesna explains how the cloud portion will work for Zoho’s apps, “Interesting part to notice in this case is that the Zoho Applications are not served from Zoho’s data centers in US. Instead, Zoho applications are deployed in NTT Com’s data centers. Zoho provides frequent updates to these applications.”
The Setten release will start small with 15 Japanese companies and will expand over time.
The post below was originally posted on the Zoho blog and is authored by Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu.
Inevitable comparisons are made between the hugely enthusiastic developer response (including from us at Zoho) to Google Wave yesterday with the relatively tepid reponse to Microsoft’s new search engine Bing. The real interesting contrast to us, as independent software developers, is the way developers responded to Silverlight as opposed to the reaction yesterday to Google Wave. Both Silverlight and Wave are aimed at taking the internet experience to the next level. To be perfectly honest, Silverlight is a great piece of technology. Google Wave, as yet, is not much more than a concept and an announcement.
It is easy to dismiss all this with “Oh, the press just loves to hype everything Google, and loves to hate Microsoft,” but that cannot explain why even competitors like us are willing to embrace Google’s innovations, but stay away from perfectly good innovations from Microsoft, such as Silverlight?
It comes down to one word: karma. Microsoft just has so much bad karma in this industry that I cannot imagine a company like us trusting them on much of anything. Take Silverlight: Microsoft pledged that they will always support Silverlight on Mac and Linux, and on browsers other than IE. Do you really, really believe their promise? Let’s recap some ancient history here: Microsoft used to have IE for Solaris and even had a beta of IE for Linux. That was when IE was way behind Netscape and was trying to catch up. Once Netscape was safely vanquished, Microsoft’s commitment to support IE on other platforms vanished. In fact, Microsoft intentionally pulled IE on other platforms, because it was clear to them that making the web experience suck on other platforms was a way to keep Windows firmly entrenched. I am glad they adopted that strategy, because that strategy eventually paved the way for Firefox (and Safari and Chrome …), and together those browsers have rendered the operating system utterly irrelevant. Apple’s resurgence – based on design prowess, not platform dominance – and Vista’s failure, have demonstrated that convincingly.