Zoho Cliq is the latest group chat tool to rival Slack and Microsoft Teams

The cloud software provider’s team messenger integrates with its suite of sales and office productivity apps.

Zoho Cliq video call

Zoho has unveiled the latest challenger to Slack and Microsoft Teams with the launch of Cliq — a team messaging tool that integrates into its range of business apps.

The core features found in Cliq will, for the most part, be familiar to users of established workplace collaboration tools, with group chat, file-sharing, video and voice call functionality. Separate channels can be set up for discussions with individual teams or around specific projects.

Cliq bots can perform various functions such as automatically pulling into the chat window information such as sales reports, as well as updating other Zoho apps. There are more than 20 third-party integrations, allowing information from Google Drive, Dropbox and Eventbrite, among others, to be pulled into the chat platform.

Cliq’s main strength, however, lies in its integration with Zoho’s own suite of tools, including Zoho CRM, Zoho Mail and Zoho Docs. In addition to opening Cliq through individual browser, desktop and mobile versions, Zoho customers can access the messaging tool from within its other applications.

The Indian company, which sells predominantly to small and midsize firms, has around 30 million customers using its tools. It recently bundled all 38 of these tools together into a single package, Zoho One, for a subscription fee of $30 a month per user.

“On its own, Cliq adds some compelling elements to collaborative chat by integrating audio/video call channel capabilities. But it does face very steep competition from competitors like Slack who have been in the marketplace for a few years now and have traction in the enterprise,” says Brent Leary at consultancy firm CRM Essentials.

“What makes Cliq really interesting,” Leary says, “is when you add it to the Zoho One suite of apps, which brings even more context into those collaborative exchanges taking place using Cliq.”

Cliq’s AI capabilities can help pull together contextual information from different Zoho applications. For example, Zoho’s CRM intelligent assistant, Zia, can perform functions in Cliq such as sending reminders ahead of meetings, proactively creating a group chat and adding members. It can also take notes and share minutes from the meeting. (Zoho chief evangelist Raju Vegesna notes that Cliq’s AI integration is in the “very early stages” and that more functionality will be added in later versions of Cliq.)

When employees collaborate using Cliq within Zoho One apps, Leary says, Zia can “leverage the context and interactions into valuable insights. Cliq can help Zoho customers transform those insights into more personalized interactions, services and experiences.”

“This gives Cliq the opportunity to be an important integration into customer engagement, which could be a compelling differentiator,” Leary adds.

Cliq is priced competitively when compared to some of its rivals. Like most team messaging tools, it offers a free tier with a limited list of features. These include 100GB file storage, 10 active third-party integrations, SAML-based single sign-on and two-factor authentication.

The paid tier costs from $1 to $3 per user each month, depending on the size of the deployment. It provides additions such as unlimited search history and integrations. Slack’s paid plans, by comparison, start at $6.67 per user per month.

“With a large user base for Zoho products and a pricing model that makes it easy to try, Cliq could quickly gain traction in the Zoho ecosystem to start with,” says Leary.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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