Zoho has launched a comprehensive communications platform called Zoho Trident. The difference from previous announcements is that this new suite of applications seems targeted at larger organisations as much, if not more, than its usual target market of SMEs. When asked about this, Sridhar Iyengar, MD, Zoho Europe, replied, “Yes, with Trident, Phone Systems and the security updates, we are placing a greater focus than before on positioning Workplace as a very powerful offering for mid-market and larger businesses.”
Zoho Workplace goes from strength to strength
Zoho already has footholds within enterprise organisations, and this announcement will hopefully draw attention from more organisations. Trident is a comprehensive suite of applications organisations would normally have contracted with different vendors to solve the challenges.
Unified communications have been around for a while and often mean different things to different vendors. Zoho seems to have introduced a wide range of applications that cover a wider range of requirements.
The new solution forms part of Zoho Workplace, which combines collaboration, productivity, and communications tools. Zoho Workplace has enjoyed 30% growth year over year and now has more than 16 million users. One of the attractions of Zoho Workplace is the price point that has drawn a growing number of customers from rivals such as Google, Microsoft and GoDaddy. The stream of migrations grew to a river in 2022, with the conversions almost doubling from rivals.
Sridhar Iyengar, Managing Director, Zoho Europe, said: “In the past year, Zoho Workplace adoption has accelerated as businesses of all sizes transition to digital-forward, hybrid work. With a clear focus on continued innovation, Zoho is well-positioned to thrive during this time of readjustment.
“The goal of Zoho Workplace is to enable businesses to unify their work to a point where the line between apps disappears. It’s heartening to see so many new businesses join the Zoho family, using Zoho Workplace as their customisable centre of gravity.”
Zoho Trident is the new communications platform that combines mail, messages, audio/video calls, calendar, tasks and more. Launched today in public beta, Iyengar confirmed that the solution would emerge from beta in a month or so, presumably, once any initial feedback is resolved. The applications are available on Windows 10, Windows 11 and Mac OS, High Sierra 10.13 or above. It combines Email, Calendar, Chat, Calls, Team Meetings and more into a single extendible application.
The solution also integrates with many Zoho applications, including CRM, Desk and Projects and has connectors for third-party applications such as HubSpot and Asana. Trident is different because it provides a single desktop application that combines several Zoho applications into a single solution, enabling users to operate collaboratively and seamlessly through applications.
Other updated applications
At the core of the voice communications platform is an updated, fully featured Phone System integrated into the Zoho messaging platform Zoho Cliq. Users can make voice calls, send SMS messages and receive calls within the application.
Cliq has proven a game changer for Zoho clients worldwide. Robert Craig, COO of ABA, commented, “Cliq was a game changer for our communication flow. We’ve been remote for years and we rely on Zoho to keep our systems in place if anything goes wrong. We have a custom customer portal that integrates with Workdrive so we can give our clients access to their files while maintaining TTR compliance. Because everything is so centralized, it’s easier to disseminate information and quickly bring people up to speed.”
Extending the telephony solution is Zoho Webinar. It enables organisations to create internal town hall meetings for thousands of employees and create curated interactive webinars for their marketing campaigns. The platform offers virtual file sharing, which does not require bandwidth from a specific desktop but enables it from the cloud using material previously uploaded.
Further extending the Workplace is the introduction of security features such as mobile device management and OTP-restricted Emails. Zoho Mail SecurePass ensures that only the intended recipient can open critical and sensitive mail. It also prevents them from forwarding, printing, or copying and pasting the email. Users can also put expiry dates on emails.
With Mobile Device Management, Zoho has brought one of ManageEngines’s applications into the suite as security becomes entwined with organisational processes. The application allows administrators to set up, supervise, and secure your enterprise mobile devices and apps. Importantly it also restricts what users can download to their phones.
Within Workplace, Zoho has added a universal drag-and-drop feature that allows users to drag files and content between different applications and features. Thus a user could drag an email or attachment from an email directly into the chat application.
Another addition is the introduction of TrueSync, again supported on Windows OS and Mac OS. This more intelligent file storage application extends the storage capacity for users. Files are mirrored on Zoho Workdrive and the local desktop without storing them. Users can download files so they can be worked on offline and then sync the files with the cloud version later and free up storage on the local drive.
A simple tick icon for storing locally or a cloud icon is displayed if the file is only on the cloud storage. Users can also share files stored on their local drive with colleagues, which moves them to the cloud and makes them available securely.
The final application announced is BluePencil. This brings Zia to the browser, which means any application can benefit from the grammar checker. The AI-driven smart writing assistant is now available in Chrome. Enterprise Times asked Iyengar about other browsers. He replied, “BluePencil right now works with Chrome and any chromium-based browser. It currently doesn’t support Firefox, Safari, and Edge, but official support will be launching soon.”
The writing assistant will offer spelling, grammar and style suggestions for anything typed in the browser. It also adds the ability to write in multiple languages using an English keyboard. It currently supports English, Tamil and Hindi and is working on Spanish and French, with more languages to follow. Zia, the bot behind BluePencil, launched its French version in December 2022, so the BluePencil French version should soon be available.
Zoho Workplace is available in three editions.
- Mail only plan is £0.80 / €0.90 per user per month.
- Standard is £2.40 / €2.70 per user per month.
- Professional is £4.80 / €5.40 per user per month.
There are additional costs for other applications. Zoho Voice is not included in the pricing and has a more complex pricing strategy with calls free in US/Canada. However, in most other countries, calls are charged individually, though at a relatively low rate. Calls to the UK and Australia are bundled into different editions for a certain number of minutes.
Pricing is, however, complex, unusually for Zoho, and would warrant a comparison with existing tariffs. Hopefully, as Zoho Voice user numbers grow, it will be able to simplify pricing.
Enterprise Times: What does this mean?
Zoho is creating a platform that enterprise organisations may start to consider. This announcement brings about a convergence of technologies that will attract many CIOs looking to consolidate the mix of vendors into a single platform. The introduction of the ManageEngine MDM solution makes sense. With all Zoho applications on a single technology platform, it could be attractive for organisations looking to digitally transform their organisational functions.
The announcement also signals a shift in approach from Zoho as it looks to move upmarket. Rather than selling point solutions that are attractive to smaller firms or departments within larger firms, it is now targeting larger projects directly. The question is whether it has the right sales teams and channel partners to complete the sales motion. It may rely on its relationships with SIs built over the last few years. It will be interesting to see how quickly a case study is revealed.
Dion Hinchcliffe, VP and Principal Analyst of Constellation Research said: “The new Zoho Workplace announcements show a deep commitment to creating choice in the digital productivity sector with a broad integrated suite that continues to innovate. The improvements to unified communications, the addition of high performance native functionality, improved security, and the addition of new AI capabilities keep Zoho Workplace in the uppermost echelon of productivity suites in my analysis.
“Zoho Workplace with its newest applications Trident, Webinar within Zoho Meetings and Phone systems within Zoho Cliq and Zoho Meetings is helping users do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.”