Zoho announced upgrades to its customer relationship management (CRM) application today that it hopes will push it into the enterprise space through the addition of features like territory management, social network integration and custom modules.

Zoho CRM Upgrades

While Zoho has been developing and adding new functionality to its CRM on a regular basis, it has largely remained a product for the Small-to-Medium Business (SMB) space, where its clients now number over 55,000 small companies.

However, if the additions over the years to Zoho CRM functionality turned it into an agile and flexible application for SMBs, it still lacked the punch it needed to break into the enterprise market. With today’s enhancements, Zoho aims to change that:

We are going deeper with CRM, adding advanced functionality often needed by larger businesses. This major update packs many features requested by large businesses, such as territory management, custom modules, custom functions, and social network integrations, along with many other advanced features,” Raju Vegesna, Zoho evangelist wrote in the announcement.

While the upgrade includes many enhancements, these major ones stand out:

1.Territory management

This enables users to divide customers into different subgroups using a wide range of criteria including geography, industry type, revenues and sales potential.

2.Custom modules

This new ability lets enterprises customize their CRM application to add industry-specific modules that can be built without adding developer tools. The new, customized modules work in the same way standard modules do with enterprise workflows and data.

3. Custom functions

This is similar to the custom modules, except for workflows. With this businesses can update workflows and data in related CRM modules and third-party apps. When a record matches the workflow criteria, the workflow engine triggers the custom function. Users can also pick from a pre-built list of functions.

4.Social integrations

Integrations with the major social networks like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook enables users to listen to social media conversations without having to leave Zoho CRM. It also integrates social network profiles and suggests contacts for users based on those profiles.

Learning Opportunities

5. Web forms

Working with a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) editor in the built-in form builder, users can create web forms with all the necessary fields as well as custom layouts, fonts, backgrounds and colors. These Web forms can be integrated with Zoho Sites, WordPress, Facebook, Google Sites and Joomla with pre-generated code.

Zoho Stealing SugarCRM Thunder?

The Zoho upgrades comes only days after SugarCRM announced the release of SugarUX, which aims to improve the overall user experience with new functionality, contextual intelligence and enhanced collaboration abilities.

Whether the new Zoho enhancements steal some of Sugar’s thunder remains to be seen, but the battle lines are being drawn. Earlier this week, e2b teknologies -- a SugarCRM reseller -- launched a pre-emptive strike during the week in the form of a webinar entitled SugarCRM Features That Blow Zoho Out of the Water.

Not exactly subtle. In fact, some of it is downright condescending along the lines of:

Zoho is a decent system, but it just doesn’t provide you with very much in ways of functionality, and it’s pretty much the same price as Sugar if you’re comparing each as a full solution …”

Zoho hasn’t responded -- except, of course,through this morning’s release -- and probably won’t, but there could be some interesting price action here as both products are pegged at $35 per user per month and both are now operating in exactly the same enterprise space. More on this soon.