AI fuels new avatar of the Zoho Office Suite

18th February 2019
AI fuels  new avatar of the Zoho Office Suite
From left Rakeeb Rafeek, Shyamala Ramesh, Sridhar Vembu, Karthikeyan Jambulingam, Sripathy Ramesh and Ashok Ramamurthy, the creative leadership of the Zoho Office Suite.

Engineers at  2 Tamil Nadu centres of Zoho,  have created India's first  Web-based, AI-driven Office Suite, to take on global biggies
From Anand Parthasarathy recently in Chennai
That old  software tool critical to desktop computing -- the Office Suite -- has reinvented itself for an always-on Internet Age.  The gold standard  used to be Microsoft (or MS) Office, a bulky package that cost more than the Windows system it ran on -- and sucked away a lot of disk space. Then came Google's challenger, Google Docs which expanded into G Suite,  not quite as elaborate as Microsoft's suite, but free for lay users and being entirely Web-based, took no space on your device. Newer avatars of MS Office like Office 360,  embraced this  Web-only   way, but you now paid a monthly subscription.
As netbooks and laptops became thinner and smaller -- with no room on board for full-fledged office tools -- and as more people began using a mobile phone as a primary work  tool -- the field  was wide open for a challenger who would   retain the agility of a Web based office  suite across multiple devices  and still provide some of the improvements that Artificial Intelligence bringing to  the cell phone. In other words,  a Web-based, AI-fuelled office suite for today's mobile user.
Such a suite has been in the making for almost a decade, with little publicity  at the Chennai and Tenkasi  centres of  Indian  business productivity solutions leader, Zoho.  A few days ago, the latest edition of the Zoho Office Suite was unveiled world-wide.  It's modestly priced for enterprises,   but free  for  individual users like you and me. 
 I  went to the site   and with minimum registration hassle, I could start using 4 tools: Zoho Writer, Zoho Sheet and Zoho Show  which can be loosely compared to MS Word, Excel and Powerpoint, and a fourth  called  Zoho Notebook which is a cooler tool than any quick note software I have ever used.   Crawling  through all four  tools is  a very clever AI agent called Zia and she is one smart lady!  Just one example. After creating a document in Writer, click on the Zia button and she will size up your  text like a strict   English  school ma'am:  correcting your grammar,   suggesting improvements to writing quality,   rapping your knuckles  ( figuratively!) if you threw in too much cliche, breaking  overlong sentences  to keep them short-n-sweet  and  rating your creation for overall readability.  No jokes!  I got just  30 out a possible 60 overall  rating for my last masterpiece and am  suitably humbled. 
With Zoho Sheet the AI kicks in  to fix any  missing values,  erroneous data entry  and typo errors. The presentation tool  Zoho Show, allows a level of visual sophistication, I have never experienced -- and most usefully, you can save and  make your presentation directly on an Android or  Apple smart TV. Throw that projector away!  Zoho Notebook is  full of useful goodies -- like being able to create your own smart cards, grabbing  visuals, text, even voice and whipping them into a new document. 
Zoho realises  many users  will  still need to  work with established standards like 'doc' , 'xls' and 'ppt' -- the new suite lets you import files  with any of these formats and save them the same way.  Perhaps the biggest  plus is that it works in all the major Indian  and international languages as well.   You can say it in any language -- but I think  the new Zoho Office Suite  for  a Connected Age has already earned a  big shabaash. Try it today and see if you agree