By Rieva Lesonsky

All most small business owners want from corporations offering solutions to help us grow our businesses is choices. Smart choices. Affordable choices. And with the launch in February of the Zoho Office Suite—that’s exactly what we’re getting.

The Zoho Office Suite consists of four feature-rich, cloud-based software applications—all designed to make you and your employees more productive. You get the Apps—Zoho Writer, Zoho Sheet, Zoho Show and Zoho Notebook, plus  Zoho’s AI-powered assistant Zia, and Zia Voice, which is a conversational AI assistant. You also get Cliq, Zoho’s unified communications app, which makes it easy to quickly create and share documents.

The advantage of using office suites is the programs are designed to work together, to make it easy for you and your staff to share and sign documents, post notes and drag and drop data.

Raju Vegesna, Zoho’s Chief Evangelist, says Zoho Office Suite was built “to be the most integrated suite of productivity tools of its kind…Plus, we’ve added features and tools that can’t be found anywhere else, such as Notebook’s smart cards, Sheet’s data-cleansing tool, and Show’s integration with Apple TV.” Vegesna adds, “We see the line between business, collaboration, productivity, and communication apps fading. It is the combination of these apps, contextually integrated, that makes the modern worker exponentially more productive.”

The Power of Zia

Zia, the AI assistant, works with all parts of Zoho Office Suite to enhance their capabilities.

  • In Zoho Writer Zia identifies context-based grammar mistakes, rates the readability score of the document, and suggests style corrections to improve overall writing quality.
  • In Zoho Sheet, a spreadsheet program, Zia provides chart and table recommendations for all data sets. It also supports natural language processing (NLP).
  • In Zoho Show, Zoho’s presentation software, Zia offers contextual suggestions for readability, grammar, and formatting.
  • Zoho Notebook is the newest addition to Zoho Office Suite and the company says it’s one of the most advanced note-taking applications on the market. Zia enables users to create several different formats of note cards (text, photo, audio, checklist, sketch) with one click.

Zoho Office Suite Features

  • Zoho Writer has an automation hub with document merging, fillable documents, form-based document creation, and one-click signature collection capabilities. The program can work offline on web, mobile, and iPad editions, syncing everything to your account when it’s reconnected. Zoho Writer also offers a distraction-free mode.
  • Zoho Show’s user-focused interface helps you easily and quickly populate slides. There’s a variety of themes, and options to include smart elements, tables, charts, and path animation. And users can run presentations on Apple TV-enabled devices as well as Android devices by turning your cell phone into a smart remote.
  • Zoho Sheet is the first spreadsheet software to offer data-cleaning capabilities to address inconsistencies and eliminate duplications. The data-cleaning tool processes the given information, lists all possible errorswith options to replace them—and rectifies them at the click of a button. And users can create a script or deploy a pre-built script to pull data across an accounting app to fill in a Zoho Sheet sales or expense report.

Sridhar Vembu, Zoho’s founder and CEO, blames market factors for the rising price of cloud-based software solutions. Zoho is bucking that trend (being privately-held makes it easier to do that) offering a pricing structure that’s less expensive than its competitors and a freemium model. That has attracted over 40 million users, world-wide—most of them small businesses.

The new Zoho Office Suite joins other business applications in the Zoho family. In January I attended Zoho Day, the company’s event for analysts and influencers. While there I got an up-close look at many of the Zoho business solutions. In all, Zoho boasts more than 40 business apps, which are available separately, bundled, or as an integrated solution found in the Zoho One bundle.

Zoho One is essentially an operating system for small businesses. It includes over 40 integrated apps (and corresponding mobile apps) covering sales, marketing, support, communications, collaboration, productivity, finance, HR and business processes.

As a corporation, Zoho is committed to doing good. In 2004, the company created Zoho University in Chennai, India to recruit students with limited educational opportunities. The students, who are paid a stipend, are taught programming. Many are then hired by Zoho. The company is bringing Zoho University to the U.S., launching a pilot program in Austin, where recruits will be trained in marketing and design as well.

At Zoho Day the company pledged that it won’t abandon the small business space and will continue to offer “more value” for a “lower price.”

Business stock photo by Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock