Zoho’s new enhancements to their business operating system with over 50 apps continues their quest to more full integrate them, so that they effectively operate as one united system.
Today, cloud software suite vendor Zoho is announcing a broad range of new apps, services and platform enhancements to their Zoho One business operating system. The new announcements include five new apps, three new services, and seven major platform enhancements. The improvements are designed to continue Zoho’s ongoing effort to unify the Zoho One operating system at every level of the stack.
Zoho One is designed as an all-encompassing system for businesses, encompassing over 50 apps, of which the average user employs 21, all of which were engineered by Zoho, which frowns on acquisitions. Zoho One is used by 40,000 customers worldwide.
“We launched Zoho One in 2017,” said Taylor Backman, senior evangelist at Zoho. “The idea was always to make Zoho One one thing, and provide unification at every level of the stack. We are continuing to address this, to unify it, and make it one thing.”
Several services have received major updates, including Zoho BI.
“We have a BI component to Zoho, and we try to bring all that together to provide out of the box BI,” Backman said. “We have increased the number of out of the box dashboards and reports to 1500 – about a 500 report jump. Not everyone in an organization will need to look at 1500 reports, but the additional ones are especially well suited for larger organizations with complex data requirements. It is also now easier to create reports they don’t get out of the box.”
The BI now adds new embedded and conversational analytics, which let decision makers drill down into their data and glean cross-departmental insights using natural language commands
“This comes from an update to our Zia Insight BI,” Backman indicated. “The new conversational analytics allows you to talk to you computer in natural language.”
Another update is that Zoho’s organization-wide search, which is powered by Zia, can now understand natural language requests.
“This is taking a similar approach to what we do in AI and analytics, by bringing natural language processing into enterprise search, thus enabling more detailed questions,” Backman said. “To do this is tricky, and required a new back end service, Work Graph.”
The new Work Graph service maps interactions between people, resources, systems and processes by studying signals and their strength across the board to build a business-wide work graph that is specific to each individual within the organization. It is strictly back-end in its application, and isn’t something that users see.
“It understands connections with entities, and powers the whole capability,” Backman said. “It enables contextual natural language processing now, but we plan to use it in more areas going forward.”
Mobile Application Management is another new service.
“This provides a subset of features of mobile device management, and is powered by pieces of our Mobile Device Management product that is sold through our ManagedEngine subsidiary,” Backman noted. “It allows users to easily add and manage all of their users’ devices for better insight and control of provisioning, specific app permissions and policies, to lock and wipe devices remotely, and to support employee mobility and flexibility.
The final new service is Org Dictionary, which provides a central, unified dictionary for the entire organization.
“We already do sophisticated spell and grammar check, and they use a dictionary,” Backman said. Org Dictionary will be a custom dictionary for each specific company that is unique for them and learns from their data. It means that the dictionary will know nonstandard names and terms from their business, and this can be used to improve contextual Natural Language Processing searches.”
Five new apps are also part of the announcement. One of these is a repurposed app – Zoho Commerce. The others: Lens, Learn, TeamInbox, and DataPrep, are all brand new.
Zoho Commerce brings a rebranded Zoho Commerce Plus, which was previously a separate product which sat on top of Zoho One and used its database, into the suite itself. Zoho Commerce lets retailers easily build online shops, constructing a website, accepting orders, tracking inventory, processing payments, managing shipping, marketing their brand, and analyzing data.
“We brought this into the suite because we didn’t want business to have to pay for another product in what has been tough times for many retailers who are not yet online,” Backman said. “You also get more bang for your buck, because Zoho Commerce Plus had a smaller subset of apps.”
The new applications begin with an LMS [Learning Management System], Zoho Learn.
“We already have HR, collaboration, meeting and training tools, but we have not had a centralized knowledge depository for the learning process,” Backman said. “This is especially important for remote and hybrid work
Zoho Lens facilitates better communication and collaboration in a remote-work environment, by providing remote assistance and guidance to employees through real-time augmented reality annotation, VoIP and text chat.
“We see a number of different use cases for this, and it could be deployed in different ways,” Backman said. “A tech working remotely at a customer site could use it, or the customer’s internal team could use it as well.”
The new TeamInbox app is a shared email inbox to eliminate task duplication and streamline email conversations in one central location.
“This is for teams that have to use a common email address,” Backman noted. “It eliminates the need for ccs, and duplicate responses.
Finally Data Preparation, a self-service data preparation and management tool, is another brand new application for Zoho. It is powered by machine learning, and can help business users integrate, model, cleanse, transform, enrich, and catalog data, as well as integrate with Analytics.
“It’s a middleware way station for all data,” Backman said.
The new platform enhancements all involve new UI and user experiences, which allows easy customization and personalization of workspaces. They start with a new Unified Console, Dashboards, and Smart-Stack UI, which let employees see their apps, services, and dashboards in one view with centralization across calendars, dashboards and navigation.
“Customers have asked for a unified interface for Zoho One since it was first introduced,” Backman said. “Now we are introducing three things, the unified dashboard, unified navigation, and the unified configuration screen. There are a few Zoho One apps that are not yet in it, but they will be added shortly.”
In addition, pre-built widgets encapsulating data across the organization can be aggregated together in a custom dashboard. This provides users visibility across the organization in a single view with the ability to drill down just one click away.