Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Zoho introduces new version of its Creator platform with a focus on low code

Global technology company Zoho today announced the release of the latest version of its Creator platform, an all-in-one solution that bridges the gap between business users and IT teams by providing a low-code solution-building experience regardless of the user’s technical know-how.

The first version of Creator platform came out in 2006, and every couple of years the company has added new features and functionality. This time its focus is on updates that help it target more mid-market companies.

With the new unified development platform, Zoho says it aims empower both IT teams and business users to build sophisticated, modern, and compliant solutions, for a low-code experience that is secure, easy to use, and custom-fit to solve business challenges, said Tejas Gadhia, head evangelist, Zoho Corporation, in a conversation with IT World Canada.

“There’s also been a little bit of a shift in terms of the types of companies adopting these platforms as the product offering in terms of features and functionality increases over time. And so I’ve got little arrows going from SMBs to mid-market line of business to mid-market IT teams,” explains Gadhia. “At a high-level Zoho has about 14,000 customers around the world. About two-thirds of them are in North America and Europe, and the other third is more emerging markets, India, APAC, Middle East, among others. When we look at the actual user base, and we say what types of companies they are, it’s still about 50 per cent small and medium businesses (SMBs) and probably about 45 per cent mid-market companies, and five per cent enterprise.”

With the new version of Creator, Gadhia says Zoho plans to target more mid-market companies.

Creator integrates digital data and processes to facilitate the creation of agile solutions for business users and IT teams alike. It allows business developers to build scalable low-code solutions which include apps, integrations, analytics, and process automation, without heavy dependency on IT teams or time-consuming training. For IT stakeholders, Creator now provides deeper controls around governance and management, without compromising automation, data-driven insights, customization, and the ability to affect revenue and growth. Together, business users and IT can quickly deploy secure, dynamic solutions built to auto-scale, so that organizations can focus on solving business problems and pursue new opportunities, explains Gadhia.

Key areas of innovation

Expand app building to solution building

Unified Solution Builder – Create, integrate, analyze, and manage custom business solutions at scale from a single dashboard. It allows users to switch between different elements, with interoperability between capabilities, and in-built guardrails for IT teams to drive enterprise-wide citizen development programs.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Zoho’s intelligent AI assistant (Zia) now enables developers to import data from anywhere, cleanse and transform with one click, build data models, and automatically detect data relationships via Smart Import. AI tasks such as predictive analytics, keyword extraction, sentiment analysis, OCR, and object detection are built into the drag-and-drop user interface for easy deployment.

Process Blueprinting – The drag-and-drop builder graphically constructs an online replica of a business process by specifying each step, assigning responsibilities across stakeholders, and automating actions based on pre-set conditions. Users can now identify bottlenecks and have the clarity to facilitate scalability for evolving business needs.

Enhanced Serverless Functions – Developers can now write, store, and execute reusable code blocks in Creator platform using Deluge, Java, or Node.js. These functions encourage IT and business teams to work together to build scalable and easily maintainable enterprise-ready apps faster.

“With this version of Creator, Zoho is shifting its low-code emphasis from applications to business solutions,” said Jason Bloomberg, president of Intellyx, an industry research firm. “Creator helps business stakeholders and IT personnel collaborate to combine applications, business intelligence and analytics, and process automation into end-to-end business solutions. Creator is simple enough for nontechnical staff while also powerful enough to address complex workflow scenarios in a secure, scalable environment.”

Build a connected ecosystem of solutions for a better customer experience

Unified Data Modeling (UDM) – Unchecked data points, varied data formats, and evolving app landscapes add layers of difficult-to-solve complexities to data integration, resulting in sub-optimal business results. Universal cloud modeling is now included to help developers establish secure data transfer by automating data integration protocols, with unified data architecture and over 650 plug-and-play connectors to make data integration easier for users.

Integration Status Dashboard – Users now have complete visibility on how well each integration operates with the new Integration Status Dashboard. Status Dashboard provides key findings on recent executions, success and failure stats, and top connections, facilitating early error detection and resolution to enable organizations to discover errors and resolve them quickly.

Embedded BI and Analytics Engine – An industry-first business intelligence and analytics engine is now included in the Creator, which Zoho says enables users to derive business insights from the data residing in their applications without worrying about bringing another subscription into the fold. High-end BI functionalities like predictive analytics, data alerts, what-if analysis, data blending, and conversational analytics are all now supported on the low-code platform.

Increased control for IT with end-to-end application development lifecycle management (ADLM)

Environments – Developers can now launch solutions in different environments of choice – development, staging (testing) or production – with a single click based on the readiness of the solution. This allows users to add features continuously or make changes without disturbing the existing app in production. The environments also support role-based access to help business developers simulate user-specific experience validation.

Centralized Governance – To help IT manage low-code development, features such as granular role-based access controls, comprehensive audit trails and backup options, application IDE, dashboards to view and manage users, billing dashboard, personalization options such as localization, branding customization, and more, are now available in the low-code platform.

Integrated Communication and Collaboration Aid – Often, business developers get stuck in the build phase with minor obstacles, especially when new to the platform. In order to enhance communication and collaboration, integrated communication enables messaging, sending files, sharing screens, and the ability to make audio and video calls.

“Currently there isn’t a low-code solution on the market that allows both business users and IT to truly build end to end business solutions,” said Raju Vegesna, chief evangelist, Zoho Corporation. “With this update, Zoho’s Creator platform combines application development, integrations, process automation, business intelligence and analytics into one single platform while simultaneously enabling IT teams to effortlessly manage security, compliance, and governance challenges. Now, organizations can leverage a unified solution for all of their low-code needs, extending the ability to innovate to every employee.”

Pricing for the platform remains the same as before, starting at C$35 per user per month, billed annually. Comprehensive pricing information can be found here.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Pragya Sehgal
Pragya Sehgal
Born and raised in the capital city of India - Delhi - bounded by the river Yamuna on the west, Pragya has climbed the Himalayas, and survived medical professional stream in high school without becoming a patient or a doctor. Pragya now makes her home in Canada with her husband - a digital/online marketing fanatic who also loves to prepare delicious meals for her. When she isn’t working or writing around tech, she’s probably watching art films on Netflix, or wondering whether she should cut her hair short or not. Can be contacted at psehgal@itwc.ca or 647.695.3494.

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