Today's addition of VB Macro and pivot table support to Zoho Sheets is possibly the most important step forward for the Zoho suite of business applications.
These two capabilities are top of list for keeping Microsoft Office customers loyal. Pivot tables are extensively used by finance people in all sizes of business as a way of creating complex reports and analyses. Some consultants I know have built entire businesses devoted to this aspect of Excel alone.
Adding in native support for VB macro creation is equally important because it allows users to create re-usable and repeatable processes inside the spreadsheet. An example might be the ability to insert a specified number of rows without disturbing the overall structure. While Zoho admits it is only supporting around 50 per cent of Excel Classes and VBA macro functionality in the current release, the direction is clear.
Once Zoho is able to spread macro capability across its other applications, we can envisage a level of web based process automation that would normally only be available in commercial grade business applications. That holds the potential to be a genuine game changer. What I'd now like to see are app developers like Freshbooks, Twinfield, CODA and FreeAgent pick up the cudgel and use these services to enhance their own applications.
These are not the only improvements which include named ranges (another productivity booster), the ability to hide formulae and freezing panes (usability improvement.) I'm with Zoli Erdos when he says the ability to share within groups is a big winner. It means I can use my business hierarchy to determine who sees what - a small but incredibly important privacy element.
In the meantime, I have to wonder how long Microsoft will stand by and watch vendors like Zoho nibble their lunch.