Collaborative Strategies – ZoHo Update
June 11, 2013
I talked with Raju Vegesna, The Evangelist for Zoho, and my primary contact over the last 5 years. Zoho is an interesting company. They have produced 30 modules (some of them collaborative). They have 7 Million users for these tools. The collaborative modules include: e-mail, Chat, Web Conferencing, Unified Communications, and Audio/video conferencing. To this list they are adding a new tool called “Pulse.” Pulse is a private social network, it includes things like a “wall” where you can post pictures, comments, etc. and it enables you to look at the network from a Company level, Group level, and personal level. Blogs, wikis forums and discussions also follow this hierarchy.
Zoho has been using Pulse internally for 8 months, but it was just released to the public last week. It has been used internally to facilitate discussions since most of the developers are in India, while sales and marketing are in the Bay Area. One of the most interesting aspects of Pulse is that they offer a “people directory.” This is an extended profile that includes: department they are in, their skill set, what they are working on, who they work for (available later this year), presence detection, reputation and the ability to share files and desktops. Pulse is available for $25/user/month.
Zoho also offers Zoho Creator, where custom apps can be built by the customer. There are lots of templates that you can already pick from, and Creator currently serves 50,000 customers which have created over 700,000 apps. Creator is available for $5/user/month but is already included in Pulse.
Pulse is available at three levels (all of which are low cost). The “Free” version allows you to do everything but have private groups. The Professional version is $2/user/month and you can have private groups but no custom applications. The Enterprise edition is $5/user/month you get all of the above, including custom applications. Documents like (Word or PPT) can only be created in the “Group” version of Pulse
When asked how difficult “Creator” was to learn and use, Raju told me ½ to 1 hour to get familiar with the tool. You don’t have to write any code, the user just has to make choices, and works with a scripting language to create the app.
To use Zoho itself as an example of the adoption of Pulse, only 10% of the developers used forums, but over 50% of Zoho developers now use Pulse. Pulse also seems to be ready for both small groups and the enterprise and Zoho Vault (password manager) works with active directory and supports your companie’s password policies, as well as 2 site authentication and single sign-on.
Zoho Pulse runs on the iPhone today and Android later in the year. There are 20 Pulse apps available today. Zoho has over 900 partners in 18 different countries, and just last week had their second user conference called “Zoholics” (sounds like a 12- step program…“hello my name is Raju and I am a Zoholic.” However, it was held in San Francisco and they had over 500 attendees, with about 80% end-users, 10% Zoho Partners. Attendance this year was more than double of the 2012 event. At this conference Zoho also launched a new module called “Leads” which is a badge scanner who’s data will flow into Zoho CRM. Leads is a one-time fee of $5/user. Zoho plans to expand beyond CRM, and will be offering an e-mail campaign module later this year (but you have to have the CRM back-end).
Zoho has always offered a wide variety of modules and functionality. They are not a suite as many collaborative applications are, but many of the collaborative functions are already integrated with CRM, Zoho Writer, and other modules. Zoho is a good choice for a company that is not sure what they need in a collaboration/social tool. Pulse provides the social network, but as you are better able to determine the functionality you need, there is probably already another Zoho module available.
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