Zoho looks to take on Microsoft Teams with collaboration-focused Zoho Workplace

Zoho Workplace is a suite of nine existing Zoho collaboration, productivity, and communications applications which have the advantage of being fully integrated with each other and with other Zoho business process apps.

Today, cloud software suite vendor Zoho is formally announcing Zoho Workplace, a suite of collaboration, productivity, and communications apps on a single platform, which are integrated with each other and with other Zoho applications like CRM. Zoho is looking to the more full-featured capabilities of Zoho Workplace and the level of integration to compete effectively against more basic collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams or Slack.

“Zoho Workplace is designed to take Teams and Slack head-on,” said Chandrasekhar LSP, Zoho’s Canadian Evangelist. “We feel those two applications are siloed and isolated. They don’t talk to other applications. They lack context and convenience, and they don’t have the same way of addressing these problems that we do.”

While Zoho Workplace is only being formally announced and launched now, it has actually been available on the market for a couple of years, and is used by two million organizations, with 15 million users located across more than 150 countries. The move to Work From Home led Zoho to make the formal announcement to draw further attention to the platform.

“Work has become more dynamic and agile with the pandemic,” LSP said. “With Zoho Workplace, we are following four key principles. Collaboration needs to provide full context, giving all information within the context of the application the user is in.

That’s necessary, he indicated, for the second principle of continuity. If collaboration within teams is disconnected from other business apps, they lack awareness of the underlying business issue being addressed – which is generally the problem the user wants to solve. Without this context, the user lacks the ability to provide continuity over the course of the issue’s resolution.

The third principle is that software should be easy to use, and the fourth is that collaboration has to integrate every application.

“Zoho Workplace is not a hodgepodge of applications,” LSP said. “There’s a reason why we put out Workplace and a reason we connected these applications.”

The nine apps within Zoho Workplace enable custom workflows and contextual communication through AI-based automation AI that works across the apps.

The Mail app lets users make audio or video calls from within the app, edit document attachments in Zoho Writer, and meet online with contacts. Mail includes a comprehensive control panel with eDiscovery, Backup and Recovery, and comes with an extensive Integration platform with flexible storage and custom controls.

“You can use Mail to schedule a video meeting right from email with all the people receiving the email,” LSP indicated.

Cliq integration

The Cliq app does the messaging. Users can check in or check out and set custom statuses, collaborate with external stakeholders, connect with teams through group audio or video calls, and view message-read status. Cliq comes with module-level configuration and customization, role-based permissions and integration with EMM providers, as well as user-based availability reports.

Meeting is the conferencing app, enabling scheduling of recurring or one-off meetings and setting of multiple email reminders from web and mobile devices. It is also integrated with other Zoho apps like Zoho Projects, Bookings and CRM.

Connect is the Social Intranet app, which lets users moderate content and modules with fine-grained permissions and user policies and custom domain and SAML-based SSO. It integrates with human resource information systems, including Zoho People

WorkDrive, the cloud document management app integrated with Zoho Directory, features unified search and TrueSync, which allows users to access files without worrying about hard drive space.

The other apps on the platform are Show, for collaborative Presenting, Writer, for word processing, Sheet, the spreadsheet app, and – ShowTime, which facilitates online training and can be white labelled.

“The tools in Zoho Workplace have given Engagify a powerful hub of communication and collaboration,” said Anders Boulanger, founder and CEO, of sales engagement specialists Engagify. “Since we work to engage and enable digital sales and marketing teams, it’s critical that our own engagement is seamless and Zoho has allowed us to do that and more, scaling to help us grow in a way that no other platform would’ve been able to.”

Pricing starts at $3/user/month for the Standard version and $6/user/month for the Professional version, which has much more Mail and WorkDrive storage, and additional scalability across the apps.

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