Zoho employees
Zoho has nearly 3500 employees worldwide working to make it "the operating system for business." PHOTO: Zoho

Zoho is advancing its ambitions to become an "operating system for business" with the addition of artificial intelligence (AI) and sales process automation to its enterprise software suite.

The company today is announcing the addition of AI to Zoho CRM and introducing Blueprint, a sales process automation platform. It's also upgrading two features to platforms: Zoho PhoneBridge, which connects a customer's PBX system to the Zoho CRM system, and SalesSignals, which provides real-time information about the activities of customers and prospects.

Founded as AdventNet by Sridhar Vembu and Tony Thomas in 1996, Zoho — which rebranded in 2009 — today offers a suite of online productivity tools and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. It is based in Chennai, India, with US headquarters in Pleasanton, Calif.

A Busy Time for Zoho

Since last July, Zoho has opened two data centers in Europe — one in Amsterdam and another in Dublin; gave its CRM platform a major facelift; introduced context-aware help desk software; launched a note-taking app for Mac users; and unveiled a payments solution that allows businesses to create customized, secure checkout pages.

It also began describing itself as a cloud operating system for business: "a single cloud platform with all the necessary applications to run a business entirely from the cloud."

By adding AI to its arsenal of more than 35 apps, Zoho takes its suite to a new level. Zoho is initially introducing the AI offering it calls Zia only to its CRM users, but plans to add it to all of Zoho's customer facing apps by the end of the year and eventually to all back-office applications.

It's a tangible sign of the company's big ambitions, Zoho Chief Evangelist Raju Vegesna told CMSWire.

“Salespeople put work into their CRM. But does the CRM work in return to make it easy for salespeople?" he asked rhetorically.

Zia is designed to do that by contextually suggesting ways to automate workflows and detect anomalies, based on a salesperson's personalized CRM use patterns.

“For now, Zia is a feature. But we see it evolving it into a platform," Vegesna said. “There are incredible opportunities."

Other Zoho Upgrades

Vegesna said Blueprint, a drag-and-drop business process designer, will also be a boon to Zoho CRM users. It enables them to build and execute sales processes from within the CRM, ensuring compliance from the entire team and making the process both systematic and repeatable.

In addition, Zoho is boosting two existing features to platforms:

  1. SalesSignals will now support third-party applications, including 10 out-of-the-box integrations including SurveyMonkey, Eventbrite, SMS Magic and DocuSign.
  2. PhoneBridge will benefit from partnerships with 15 telephony vendors to provide users with various call management features, including single-click dialing and automatic call logging.

Zoho CRM is free for up to 10 users. Paid plans start at $12 a user per month for the Standard Edition.