If there's one thing I really like it is what I term 'self evident' applications. These are apps that have a clear purpose and which are blindingly simple to use. Zoho Share falls squarely in that category.
The company prefers to think of Share as 'Sharepoint meets YouTube,' but I'm not sure that's a message that will resonate very well with business. Many people think the consumerisation of enterprise apps will have a profound impact on how businesses organize and use applications. That may happen, but not now. Business worries about employees using YouTube on company time while Sharepoint is one of those technologies you either love or hate.
When I first saw the service, I thought it was more like an early Jive Clearspace version but with an emphasis on documents and around half the 'people' functionality.Zoho's Raju Vegesna replied in email saying: "Yes, there is some overlap initially. But given the roadmap, I think it'll evolve into something unique. Especially when it improves on the business side. For example, it'll act as a central document repository (like NDAs etc) for your organization based on department. When you publish your sales related documents, they'll automatically appear in CRM."
What can you do today? In summary you can:
- Upload most commonly formatted documents and presentations along with HTML documents and PDF into a central store.
- Share publicly if your Zoho Writer, Sheet or Show documents are public and/or with 'friends.' Business users can use Share as a central repository that is protected from external viewing.
- In the Content area, users can rate and comment upon documents, bookmark them to external services like Delicious, Furl etc and embed them in web pages.
- The people area allows you to discover 'friends' and collaborate through the integrated Zoho Chat.
- Finally, there is a comprehensive search plus RSS feeds.
I like most of what I see because Share provides functionality you'd expect in a separate application like VersionOne but with the promise of ties directly back to the operational applications like Writer. As a value proposition, this is much better than wrangling separate applications.
Bookmarks are becoming an increasingly important part of a knowledge worker's life so having this ability is a plus. I wish they'd included Diigo which I personally find much more satisfying than Delicious and perhaps cut back or integrated say Diigo's commenting into Zoho Share.
However, some parts are a bit too consumery for my taste. The notion of 'friends' doesn't fly in a corporate context. Business users need a way to define the term in a way that works for them. It could be something like 'colleague' or 'business partner.' Rating is useful but can be subject to abuse. Zoho might wish to consider how they use ratings to minimize the level of gaming that might occur.
Overall, this is a huge step forward for Zoho and one that should give potential users a firm nudge towards adoption.