Zoho bringing Zia AI tool into Zoho One suite highlights major upgrades

Other enhancements include a new unified dashboard and unified search feature for all 40 applications in Zoho One, as well as the 40th app – Backstage – an event management solution that is also sold separately.

The Zoho One dashboard

Cloud application vendor Zoho has made a series of enhancements to its Zoho One mega-suite of applications. Three upgrades stand out. First, Zoho has brought its Zia AI tool, which it introduced to its Zoho CRM application in 2016, to the entire Zoho One suite. Secondly, Zoho One’s Analytics tab now provides a central point for analytics across the entire suite, allowing KPIs to be tracked and dashboards created from one place, which can span across multiple applications within the suite. Third, a new unified Search feature also now extends across multiple applications within the suite. In addition, Zoho has announced the fortieth application in the suite. Backstage is an end-to-end event management tool for the planning, promotion, and running of events, up to large-scale conferences and trade shows.

The new announcements come as the company is showing strong momentum.

“The business is growing, and we have close to 6000 employees,” said Raju Vegesna, Zoho’s chief evangelist. “We are in our 23rd year in business, are profitable, are still private, and have no plans to go public.”

Zoho One, the bundled suite of Zoho products was launched in 2016, with 35 applications, and has grown since to the point where Zoho now positions it as the company’s flagship offering. In its first year, it enlisted 12,000 new customers, with the largest of them having 20,000 users, and the second largest 15,000.

“We now have 40 applications, all of which are integrated and are offered as a suite at a price of a dollar per user a day,” Vegesna said. “This becomes the software tool box for a business. You may not use every single tool, but when you need a specific tool, it is there. You can pretty much run an entire business on Zoho One.” He noted that the average number of apps enabled is 16 of the 40. Zoho One also provides Zoho Concierge, a free 24/7 live service that helped more than 6,500 customers optimize Zoho One for their specific needs.

“With this release, we are making three key updates,” Vegesna said. “The first is that we are introducing Zia to Zoho One. In the past, it has just been in Zoho CRM. The questions it lets you ask varies from simple ones like ‘what are the number of visitors on our website,’ to questions on the trend of revenue per employee, which requires taking data from more than one application, the accounting app and the human resource management app. You can now do that. Intelligence at the cross-application level is critical in Zoho One, which can only be possible with a pre- integrated operating system.”

Earlier this year, Zoho created a Zia Voice Platform for Zoho CRM. That voice capability for Zia is not yet in Zoho CRM, but the plan is to extend it as soon as possible.

Vegesna described the second new capability, the ability of the new Analytics tab in Zoho One to provide analytics across the suite in one place, as a single dashboard for Zoho One.

“It allows one dashboard for the entire business, and there are over 500 pre-built dashboards and reports that are pre-built across applications for sales marketing and finance,” he said. “There are also out-of-the-box third party integrations like Salesforce and Quicken, and these can be shared within the organization.”

The third new capability is the ability to provide one unified search across the whole organization.

“This is something that we have been working on for seven plus years,” Vegesna said. “Search is now in one central place, whereas before search was at the individual application level. The ability to search across applications is also new with this.

The search results are contextual.

“For example, chat will be laid out as chat, and a report will be laid out as a report,” Vegesna said.

This is launching on the Web now and mobile will follow a few weeks later, he added.

Backstage Agenda Builder

The new application, Backstage, handles all aspects of event management.

“It falls into the marketing category, and helps before during and after the event,” Vegesna said. “Before the event, it does scheduling. It will automatically create an event and give a template for the site, which you can customize. You can optimize it for tablets and phones. There is also an Agenda Builder, with a drag and drop interface. It manages tickets, promoting the event and scheduling emails to attendees.

“During the event, Backstage checks in attendees, and allows presenters to manage presentation from BackStage,” Vegesna continued. “Attendees joining from both mobile or the Web will see the Join button and be able to see the slides. They can see any past slide, but not the next one.”

After the event, BackStage shows how engaged the audience was, and has followup surveys and emails.

Zoho Backstage is available now, both as a web app and as mobile apps for iOS and Android. Zoho Backstage has four subscription plans: the Free plan, the Professional plan ($99 per month), the Professional+ plan ($199 per month), and the Single Event plan ($299 per event) with a custom branding add-on at $1000 per year. Custom branding includes a custom domain and mobile app. The Zoho Backstage Professional+ plan is included as a part of Zoho One, as part of the bundled $30 per month per employee pricing for everything.