Productivity software

Zoho Brings Business Apps to Gmail

Zoho has expanded its integration with Google Apps by allowing CRM and other Zoho business tools to display data in Gmail messages.

Zoho has aggressively built out its software-as-a-service portfolio over the last couple of years, with more than two dozen services. But the vendor hasn't been opposed to making its platform work with the technology of its bigger rivals, namely Microsoft and Google.

The products Zoho Office for Microsoft SharePoint and Zoho Plugin for Microsoft Office, and Zoho for Google Apps, illustrate how Zoho's cloud strategy is similar to Google's. For all the time Google spends criticizing Microsoft Office, it realizes that most customers won't dump Microsoft and therefore pitches Google Apps as being complementary to Microsoft tools.

Zoho, meanwhile, actually offers its own email service but recognizes that Gmail is simply more popular. That's why Zoho today said it's taking advantage of the recently announced Contextual Gadgets for Gmail, which lets third party apps integrate into Gmail messages.

Zoho's CRM, Invoice, and Projects software will now integrate with Gmail.

"When you receive an email from your customer in Gmail, our CRM Gadget can display the customer information (pulled from Zoho CRM) along with the notes, contact info etc within the email," Zoho executive Raju Vegesna writes in a blog post. "Similarly, the Invoice gadget can display information like overdue or unpaid Invoices from that customer, all without leaving that email message."

The Zoho Projects app will let users create and manage projects and tasks directly within Gmail.

Today's announcement adds upon capabilities Zoho already had to integrate with Google Apps. For example, Zoho users could already import contacts from Google Apps, attach files from Google Docs, and export events to Google Calendar.

While this integration will undoubtedly be useful for some users, the cloud-based productivity market has a long way to go before catching up to the behemoth Microsoft. While Google has lured a lot of small businesses to use Google Apps, the analyst firm Gartner says that the business version of Gmail has captured less than 1% of the enterprise email market.

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