Zoho outlined a more collaborative vision of customer relationship management, launched a series of AI-driven enhancements across its platform, upped its developer game and created a cybersecurity stack.

The barrage of announcements at the company's Zoholics 2024 conference in Austin is uniquely Zoho. The company is pushing the status quo in enterprise software and aiming to democratize various workflows and processes with its affordable stack.

Here's a look at the announcements from Zoholics 2024.

Zoho CRM for Everyone

Zoho previewed Zoho CRM for Everyone, which is aimed at bringing CRM to all teams involved in customer operations.

Although sales teams are the custodian of customer relationships, Zoho CRM for Everyone is aimed at coordinating all the other teams involved in delivering customer value.

These teams include solutions engineering, contract management, sales enablement, customer onboarding and advocacy. The coordination and communication of the various customer teams can improve customer journeys and mitigate risks.

Constellation Research analyst Liz Miller said Zoho CRM for Everyone recognizes that an entire enterprise is involved with driving revenue. "This is a solution that meets the modern sales and engagement strategy, reaching beyond the stagnant notion that CRM is a record or a database…it puts CRM at the center of the project called Revenue," said Miller.

Mani Vembu, Zoho Chief Operating Officer, said CRM access has historically been rationed and that has created silos that hamper customer experiences.

The components of CRM for Everyone aimed at breaking down the silos include:

  • Team Modules: Business teams can create team level data modules by themselves with IT governance. Fields, permissions and  workflow automation can be customized by teams. The modules are held in a dedicated team space with customer context and processes.
  • Requester Profile: When a team needs a deliverable from a different team they can place a request, track status and collaborate.
  • A new user experience: Zoho revamped its Zoho CRM interface for better usability across roles and functions. Users can switch between models and use no-code and low-code experiences to manage workflows.

Zoho CRM for Everyone is available for customers requesting early access. New capabilities will be added over the next several weeks.

Constellation Research analyst Doug Henschen said:

"CRM for Everyone is clearly the big announcement here. There have been many attempts to reimagine CRM over the years. Zoho is providing blank-slate support to customize for cross-functional teams and processes across all who touch customers, starting with marketing. Despite Zoho's always-value-leading pricing, I'm sure it won't necessarily be easy or a quick win to convince companies to extend CRM far beyond sales. But Zoho is disciplined and always plays the long game. They'll stick with the "For Everyone" push, iterating and tweaking to show customers the value in supporting cross-team communication and collaboration around customer interactions." 

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Indeed, the vision for CRM is notable. 

Collaboration enhancements with AI, workflow automation, industries

Zoho updated its collaboration portfolio to focus on unified project management, asynchronous collaboration across global enterprises, partners and industries. These updates have been added to Zoho Project, Zoho Notebook, Zoho WorkDrive and Zoho Sign. 

Raju Vegesna, Zoho's Chief Evangelist, noted that collaboration across multiple time zones, devices and networks are an enterprise pain point. He added that Zoho has created platform services for AI, unified search and process automation to fuel collaboration.

Here's a look at the new collaboration additions that are generally available in Zoho Projects, Zoho WorkDrive, Zoho Sign and Zoho Notebook:

  • Zoho Projects now has natural language processing capabilities from Zia, Zoho's AI engine. Zia can summarize charts and dashboards to generate task recommendations.
  • Zoho Notebook uses Zia for notetaking, summarization, task management and tagging of topics among other things. Zoho Notebook is integrated into Zoho Projects and WorkDrive.
  • Blueprint, a visual workflow automation tool, is now available in Zoho Projects, WorkDrive and Sign. Blueprint provides materials and context as processes are created.
  • Zoho WorkDrive now includes workflow automation to automate content procedures across departments and teams.
  • Zoho Sign now offers the ability to create reusable templates for orders, sales orders and various documents.

While collaboration enhancements went broad across Zoho's platform, the company also went deep with workflows developed for industries. Here's a look:

  • Construction: Zoho Projects can troubleshoot issues remotely with Zoho Lens integration. Zoho Lens is an augmented reality remote assistance tool.
  • Healthcare: Zoho WorkDrive gets new Data Loss Prevention (DLP) security controls that can be used to flag and classify sensitive data.
  • Manufacturing: Blueprint in Zoho Projects can be used to chart and manage process pipelines and automate steps.
  • Other industries including Aviation can also build out custom tools.

Constellation ShortList™ Enterprise File Sharing and Cloud Content Management

Zoho ups developer game with Catalyst by Zoho, Zoho Apptics

At Zoholics 2024, the company also overhauled its developer tools with new pro-code services and native app analytics.

With the enhancements, Zoho is targeting application teams and professional developers looking to create custom tools. Zoho has also tightly integrated Catalyst and Apptics, which is focused on privacy.

  • Catalyst, which integrates with the Zoho ecosystem and third-party applications, has been upgraded with the following tools:
  • Signals, which routes events from Zoho services, third parties and custom apps to handlers using publishers and subscription rules.
  • NoSQL Database for storing structured, semi-structured and unstructured data across data types.
  • Slate, a managed front ends so developers can build customized interfaces.
  • CI/CD Pipeline, which automates tests and builds continuous delivery pipelines.

Zoho Apptics, which is generally available, consolidates analytics across app usage, performance, engagement and growth in one console. The unified view is designed for everyone involved in application development and management.

Other tools in Zoho Apptics includes:

  • Ability to prompt Android and iOS users for ratings and updates.
  • Tools that prioritize data privacy and security.
  • Analytics support across multiple platforms with web analytics coming soon.
  • Catalyst has a free tier and pay-as-you-go or subscription-based plans. Apptics has a free plan and pro plan starting at $62 a month if billed annually.

Zoho integrates its security offerings into one stack

Zoho launched a security tech stack that includes its secure browser Ulaa, Zoho Directory, Zoho OneAuth, and Zoho Vault.

As Zoho combined its security tools, it also upgraded key features including:

  • Ulaa now features machine learning powered phishing detection as well as crypto mining detection in addition to user privacy tools.
  • Zoho Directory has been upgraded with conditional access and routing policies. Users can also upload their own encryption keys using Bring Your Own Key. Enterprises can also authenticate enterprise Wi-Fi and VPNs with Zoho Directory Cloud RADIUS.
  • OneAuth now offers Smart Sign-in with a secure QR code. Additional tools make it easier to enforce multi-factor authentication (MFA) across organizations. Admins can also kill unauthorized sessions.
  • Zoho Vault can detect breached passwords, create compliance reports and store confidential data. Vault also offers browser extensions, mobile apps and desktop apps.

Constellation Research analyst Chirag Mehta said:

"With the rise of sophisticated cyberattacks, organizations are actively seeking solutions to enhance their proactive information security measures. Zoho's new security stack is a significant advancement in meeting these critical needs by offering robust protection against tracking, breaches, and attacks, ensuring both security and productivity for businesses. By integrating multi-factor authentication, secure password management, a privacy-first browser, and workforce identity and access management, Zoho aims to provide a comprehensive security approach. This holistic strategy helps safeguard sensitive data, build customer trust, and ultimately protect the organization's bottom line."

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