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Zoho CRM update adds document repository, mobile location awareness

Zoho steps up its competition with Salesforce.com for small business customers

Zoho continues to flesh out the feature set of its cloud-based CRM (customer relationship management) application, adding a new document library, advanced email filtering and location-aware mobile applications.

The features, which were announced Tuesday, come about a year after Zoho launched an update that featured an overhauled user interface, integration with LinkedIn and a social network-like feature called Pulse.

Zoho CRM's new Documents module provides salespeople with a central point for sharing sales-related materials, such as proposals and advertisements, with access controlled according to an individual's role. Professional Edition customers get 250MB of storage per user, while Enterprise version customers receive 500MB.

Another new feature, MailMagnet, is meant to help salespeople keep track of emails that matter most. Zoho CRM users receive notifications as emails arrive from people in their contact and lead lists. The feature is compatible with a number of mail services, including Gmail and Exchange.

Zoho has also added location awareness to its iPhone, iPad and Android mobile CRM applications. Contact and prospect data is applied to a map, allowing salespeople to see who is nearby.

At this point, Zoho CRM has become a credible alternative to Salesforce.com for customers with five to 50 employees, as have other CRM applications such as SugarCRM, said analyst Ray Wang, CEO of Constellation Research.

Zoho offers a lower-end CRM edition at no charge for up to three users. Professional Edition is US$12 per user per month, while Enterprise costs $25 per user per month. All paying customers get the new document library feature, while MailMagnet comes at no charge for those paying for the Mail add-on, which is $5 per user per month. Location awareness is included with Zoho CRM Mobile Edition, which is an add-on priced at $3 per user per month.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com


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