by Anirban Ghoshal

Zoho One update targets productivity, collaboration for hybrid workforces

Oct 25, 2021
AnalyticsCollaboration SoftwareERP Systems

The Zoho One ERP and analytics suite now spans more than 50 apps, adding new data and communications tools and services for businesses with remote, mobile and geographically dispersed workforces.

Shared responsibility concept  >  Hands take equal shares of pie chart [partnership / teamwork]
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Zoho is updating its Zoho One ERP and analytics software suite with new services, apps and platform enhancements  designed to let global businesses with hybrid work environments streamline data analysis and communications across multiple departments, mobile and remote users.

Its Zoho One suite, first launched in 2017, is designed to run an entire business on the cloud in a cost-efficient manner. Zoho is charging $37 a month per user (billed on an annual basis) for Zoho One, and is expanding the suite to more than 50 apps by adding six new apps, three new services, and a variety of platform enhancements.

The Zoho One update, announced last week, is the first major revamp of the suite in two years and will boost Zoho’s image as a serious midmarket ERP player, said Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research.

“Zoho is living up to its value proposition of being the best SMB ERP package with an integrated platform vision that spans both horizontally and vertically. Zoho One is the culmination of this, adding many more automation offerings for Zoho customers,” Mueller said.

New Zoho One services focus on productivity

The three new suitewide services released by Zoho are targeted toward productivity and agility. It released a new back-end service called Work Graph that will map interactions across apps and interfaces throughout an entire business. According to Zoho, the service is intelligent enough to create a work graph specific to an individual in terms of the people or assets they are interacting with across apps, in order to analyze workflow and improve productivity.

Another productivity update is the Org Dictionary service, which offers a central dictionary incorporating employee names and other assets to achieve consistent spelling throughout the Zoho One suite. According to the company, ruling out spelling errors will result in saving time.

Easing collaboration among multiple stakeholders and streamlining repetitive tasks like switching between multiple applications are big challenges for companies, according to Sharath Srinivasamurthy, and IDC’s research director.

“The need of the hour is making ‘work’ smarter. Services like Work Graph and Org dictionary introduced by Zoho play an important role in ensuring the employees work smarter and reduce time spent on unproductive work,” Srinivasamurthy said.  

Zoho One’s mobile application management (MAM) service, meanwhile, is aimed at organizations with hybrid workplace models comprising mobile and remote users. The MAM service is designed to add and manage all of an organization’s devices for better insight and control of provisioning specific app permissions and policies and locking or wiping devices remotely. Zoho added that the MAM application will be chargeable depending on the number of devices it is being used for.

Mobile management is an extremely critical element in modern workplace as more employees are on the go and need best-in-class remote support to be productive, according to Srinivasamurthy.

Apps to streamline collaboration

The six newly launched apps under the Zoho One suite are targeted toward automation and streamlining collaboration.

Zoho Learn is aimed at making it easier for companies to train employees. Akin to a learning management system, the new app can be combined with Zoho’s course builder app to set up a central repository of company information along with training modules that can help accelerate employee growth.

Zoho Lens and TeamInbox are aimed towards facilitating collaboration. Zoho Lens is designed to aid remote-work employees in augmented reality environments via real-time AR annotation, VoIP, and text chat.

TeamInbox is an app that can be used as a shared email inbox to eliminate task duplication and streamline e-mail conversations.

Zoho DataPrep is a self-service data preparation and management tool. The app is designed to  to prepare clean data and create data models from third-party app or other sources. It can be combined with Zoho Analytics or a third-party analytics application to gain more insights, the company said.

Zoho also launched a new Commerce app, meant to enable organizations, especially retailers, to build online shops with the tools needed to build a website, accept orders, track inventory, process payments, manage shipping and marketing, and analyze all data from these activities. The company said that Zoho Commerce can be integrated with third-party payment gateways.

Zoho Payroll can be used to onboard employees, automate payroll processing, disburse salaries online through partner banks, deduct taxes, and stay compliant with statutory regulations.

The driving strategy behind these launches seem to be “one stop solution” for all employee and customer engagement needs, according to Srinivasamurthy.

“The fact that these features are a part of Zoho One indicates that Zoho is looking at enterprises who have disparate systems for different functionalities and struggling to manage them by providing features under a single umbrella of Zoho One,” Srinivasamurthy said.

Platform enhancements augment automation

The entire suite also received some new updates allowing enterprises to gain insights faster.

Zoho said that it was embedding a conversational BI (business intelligence) analytics system in the suite for decision-making users. According to the company, the new update will allow users to get cross-departmental analytics via natural language commands via the natural language processing (NLP) engine of Zia Insights — a tool Zoho introduced earlier, which provides access to over 1,500 prebuilt analytics reports and dashboards.

Enterprise Search, also based on NLP, will allow users to perform companywide data discovery via short and simple commands, Zoho said.

 Some of the other enhancements include a unified console, dashboards, customizable widgets for dashboards, integration with telephony providers, and a new no-code tool, Canvas.

While Zoho One integrates with more than 1,000+ third party solutions, Zoho scores over rivals as several of the updates will not require third-party applications to run, said Constellation Research’s Mueller.

“For instance, Mobile Application Management (MAM) requires third party software with other ERP packages — not with Zoho. Same with Learning software. These software systems come from a third party for most ERP vendors — not for Zoho,” Mueller said.