Zoho Takes Aim at Google, Salesforce.com with Mail-CRM Integration

Zoho married its Zoho Mail application and Zoho CRM business application, an effort to improve messaging and collaboration for users of the SAAS (software as a service) provider's collaboration and enterprise applications. This integration, is aimed squarely at the Google-Salesforce.com integration of the same nature, making the cloud computing rivalry more interesting.

Zoho July 21 integrated its Zoho Mail application and Zoho CRM business application, an effort to improve productivity for users of the software as a service provider's collaboration and enterprise applications.

The move takes aim at Google and Salesforce.com, which sport an integration agreement that lets Salesforce.com CRM users access Google Apps, such as Gmail and Docs directly from within Salesforce.com CRM apps.

Zoho is hoping to curry a bit of the same cross-collaboration and enterprise app magic with its new marriage. For $3 per user, per month, Zoho CRM customers can visit the Setup section in Zoho CRM to see a new "Zoho Mail Add-on" option. Once the users enable this, they should see a new "Emails" tab in Zoho CRM.

From here, users will be able to send and receive all their e-mail messages without leaving Zoho CRM, which will include a threaded view of e-mail conversations. Users can also easily switch between their mail and their CRM from within the same browser tab.

For example, users looking for a contact within the CRM system will see all e-mails they have exchanged with that contact. The integration goes both ways; Zoho Mail users will also be able to save a contact directly to the Zoho CRM system by choosing the 'Add to CRM' selection from the 'More Options' drop-down in Zoho Mail.

Zoho has also enabled the ability for users to compose and read e-mail from within the Zoho CRM Contacts tab do that users don't have to go to their e-mail client or even the Zoho CRM Email tab e-mail customers and contacts.

E-mails will be logged within the respective contacts whether they were sent from the CRM Contacts Tab, the CRM Emails tab, directly on Zoho Mail, or even while using another mail client to send e-mail from Zoho Mail. This eliminates the need for users to CC or BCC contacts with another e-mail address.

Moreover, Zoho Mail will let users access their Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and other e-mail services that support POP through Zoho Mail. Zoho is also working to enable users to connect with other e-mail accounts via IMAP.

Zoho Director of Marketing Rodrigo Vaca called this Zoho CRM-Zoho Mail marriage contextual integration.

"It means that what matters is the information, not what 'product' you use to access it," Vaca explained in a blog post. "The right information follows you, regardless what application you happen to be using at the time. It is possible only because of the tight integration between these two services - something that would be hard to achieve by two separate companies, even when they really, really want to work together."

This last comment is a shot across the bows of Google and Salesforce.com, whose integrations Zoho regards as inferior.

To further put the screws to Salesforce.com, the top CRM provider in the cloud computing arena, Zoho today also unveiled the Zwitch to Zoho CRM program to help Salesforce customers migrate to Zoho CRM and receive six months of free Zoho CRM licenses.

Zoho isn't just picking fights with Google and Salesforce.com. The company has been aggressively pursuing Microsoft's legacy on-premise customer base, providing several plug-ins that will enable Microsoft customers to use Microsoft tools from within Zoho services.

Zoho July 9 released Zoho Plug-in for Microsoft Access, a free software add-on to let Microsoft users migrate database information housed on their desktop computers to the Internet cloud.

Zoho July 1 released a new version of its Zoho Projects project management software that lets users create a project in Microsoft Project and import it to Zoho Projects.