Zoho's serious move on Excel

by admin on April 28, 2008

in General,Innovation

I’ve written a brief review cum opinion piece about Zoho‘s announcement that it’s added limited support for Visual Basic macros and pivot tables to its spreadsheet service. I’ve also posed a question to Simon Hurst about this over at IT Counts (private registration, sorry) where I ask whether in his opinion these new additions represent the kind of game changers that could help tip Zoho towards the mainstream and pose a threat to Microsoft.

I’m genuinely excited about this. While I personally hate messing around with pivot tables I know they’re beloved by my professional bretheren who see them as a way of doing some funky analysis. I’m thinking about it beyond analysis.

Just as we had Winforecast, until it became part of the Sage stable, Zoho could – and I emphasize could – become the bones of a reporting and analysis engine for the many finance applications that are starting to emerge. Some will say that baking analytics into the application is enough. I disagree. At least for now. Accounting data serves many purposes and right now, the emphasis is on user specific requirements. That’s fine except we should never forget that regulatory purposes need attention. If Zoho can become a reporting engine then it means someone, somewhere can make a very nice living by providing that service. Just an idea.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Dennis Howlett April 29, 2008 at 10:00 am

Thanks Martyn – I needed someone to get their hands dirty on this thing and glad you put your hand up. I do see this as potentially something pretty darned big – if – they can get the whole act together. That’s why I said ‘could’ and not ‘will.’

Martyn April 29, 2008 at 12:53 pm


Just tried it – Its cool – but not THAT cool ;-)

The problem is that if you have a sheet that is set up with excel PTs these are not translated – you have to re-engineer them. And there isn't two way compatibility.

This is the same problem as OpenOffice has – datapilot is good but only about 75% as good as Excel PTs – and again, the native PT is lost when you import so you can't share a file that contains PTs between the two systems.

However, I take your point about Zoho as a front end – it could be VERY useful if you could hook up a data feed from something else and then share the reports generated on-line.

Martyn April 29, 2008 at 11:11 am

Yeah, conditional – like on Microsoft not “getting” SaaS perhaps and opening up and api to excel.

I DO like the share-ability (is that the right term??) of Zoho – build in some workflow (say between the user and the reporting accountant/auditor) and a set of pre-defined reporting templates and anybody who can hook up to this from a backend system “could” :-D have a winner on their hands.

Dennis Howlett April 29, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Zoho is adding customers at one heck of a clip – like 100K every 5-6 weeks. They're developing workflow, and templating is a no brainer. It's already been done in proprietary systems – not a big deal – just a bunch of conditional statements to spit out the right formats for regulatory stuff, leave the pivot tables for the funky analysts. It's not a big leap

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