Web searches are about getting to information quickly. In most cases, we don't know where that information exists or in what form it exists. When we search, we expect to see information in different forms from different locations. In the consumer world, this works. But what about the business world? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
In a business context, we have a search box specific to every, single application—one for email, one for contacts, one for documents, etc.—a separate search engine for each business application.
What if we had a single search engine that...
Searches across entire business’ data, across multiple business applications;
Has a deeper understanding of the inter-working of these business apps to display relevant information;
Offers integrated and contextual action items relevant to what you are searching for and doesn't just provide a bunch of links that redirect you to another apps;
Is multi-dimensional; which not only searches for 'content', but goes beyond it?
Here it is. We are excited to announce Zoho 'Actionable' Search—a unified search engine for your business running on Zoho.
<screenshot of search box>
Zoho Search indexes data from multiple Zoho Apps—Zoho Mail, Docs, Writer, Sheet, Show, Notebook, Discussions, Accounts and more—and offers a unique and unified approach to search. When you search for a keyword, it displays results from multiple apps in a single screen. Search results are grouped based on applications and options are provided to view additional results from each category.
<Screenshot of search results page with multiple categories>
Indexing the data from this broad set of applications is just one part; Zoho Search has a deep understanding of every application it indexes. This deeper understanding of each application results in smart search results. Here is an example:
If you search for content in Mail, Zoho Search not only displays the content of the mail, but also displays additional information such as the Folder in which this mail resides, Sent date, Sender Information etc.
Zoho Search also knows if the sender is currently on your buddy list, and based on that, it displays the current presence information (i.e whether the user is online/offline/busy etc) of the sender. How cool is that? It even knows how many mail accounts you have (including your POP accounts) and lets you search in other mail accounts. If no results are found in one mail accounts, it automatically search your other mail accounts.
<screenshot of Zoho Mail depicting above scenario>
Zoho Search also has a deeper understanding of other Zoho Apps in similar ways. In the Documents section, for example, it searches the contents of the document, understands the document types, knows information about the owner of the document—including their presence, knows if the document is shared by someone, and even includes information such as the last time the document was modified, etc.
<screenshot of Docs search>
Such deep understanding of individual applications allows us to offer guided navigation options for refining search results. We offer guided navigation for Discussions and Document results.
Where Is the 'Actionable' Part, Then?
What good is search, if you can't act on the information you find? So we implemented an actionable search allowing you to take actions on search results.
If the search result is an email, you can view the email directly within search results and even reply to that mail, without having to open the email app. As Zoho Search knows the sender information, it also offers actionable options to view mail sent to that user, mail received from that user and even chat with the user who sent you an email, directly within search results.
<screenshot with Chat from search results>
This is, in fact, the case for the Documents section as well. Documents, spreadsheets, presentations and notebooks can be viewed within the search module. Additional actions like sharing a document, chatting with the owner of the document, and viewing a document shared by/to you, are all available from the search results page.
Similar actionable options are available to other components as well.
We’ve been talking a lot about contextual integration, preserving users’ context and more. You'll see this implemented in Zoho Search. In fact, when you search for something in Zoho Search, you can do most of the work directly within the search results—like viewing emails (without opening the mail app), viewing documents (again, without opening Writer, Sheet, Show, Notebook), chatting with users etc. All of these actions can be accomplished within the search context, in a single browser tab. As we said earlier, contextual integration is going to raise productivity levels, and this is just the beginning.
Zoho Search is currently available @ http://search.zoho.com and is also integrated into Zoho Business (look for the 'Search' link at the top of the page). This universal search box will contextually be integrated with all Zoho Apps as we move forward.
Please give Zoho Search a try and share your feedback with us.