Business Intelligence & Analytics Articles

Zoho Reports Review – Online Business Intelligence Software

by Matthew Stibbe
Published on 9 December 2013

Zoho Reports is a powerful, easy-to-use and highly scalable cloud-based reporting and business intelligence platform for small to medium-sized businesses. Its flexible pay-as-you-go pricing model and scope for customisation allow businesses to tailor it to their unique demands.

Zoho Reports Review

(This Zoho Reports review is based upon information provided by the vendor and gathered through independent research. The vendor provided detailed product specifications and marketing materials, as well as an in-depth product demonstration. Further research was conducted surrounding business needs, market competition and software functionality.)

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The business world is dealing with unprecedented volumes of data - 90 percent of the data around today was created in the past two years.

But it's not just about having data, it's about using and analysing it effectively to gain insights and make informed business decisions. This requires fit-for-purpose reporting and business intelligence tools.

Zoho Reports answers these needs, providing small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with cost-effective, flexible data analysis software.

The software fills the gap in the market between general-purpose tools, such as Microsoft Excel, and expensive enterprise-level business intelligence software, like Cognos. It combines visual analysis, the ability to collaborate and native integration to allow you to make the most of your data:

  • Reporting and business intelligence made simple. Zoho Reports has an intuitive user interface and needs no specialist training to use, so you'll be seeing results from day one. You can create reports by simply dragging and dropping, before editing and filtering the data as much as you want. You can also build dashboards to combine several reports and create a clear birds-eye view of the project's key insights.
  • Inbuilt integration. Zoho Reports is part of a larger suite of Zoho Products. This means you get great integration right from the box, with more integrations and connections on the way, and there's no need to cobble together a haphazard business intelligence system from various vendors. No other vendor specialising in the SMB market can offer such a broad range of business applications.
  • Software as a service (SaaS) model. Being cloud-based software, Zoho Reports requires no costly on-premise hardware and is highly scalable and customisable. You can pay for what you need, when you need it.

Ultimately, Zoho Reports is a powerful, affordable reporting and data analysis tool, giving you the ability to create insightful reports and dashboards to promote intelligent business decisions. The flexibility and customisation afforded by the pay-as-you-go model means you can make Zoho Reports work for you.

Business needs

Zoho Reports' ability to help users effectively monitor their operations and quickly identify key business insights to achieve business goals means the software has a wide application, useful for any business that needs data collection, analysis and reporting.

A sales manager, driven by incentives and targets, can upload or input all the relevant data to Zoho Reports to help her measure the department's performance, update her team and identify any problem areas in her campaign.

A small marketing company, meanwhile, could use Zoho Reports to share reports and key insights with their clients to show the progress of the latest campaign or the leads generated by some new content.

Zoho Reports makes this sort of collaborative reporting and business intelligence easy.

In addition, independent software vendors (ISVs) can use Zoho Reports, which can be fully rebranded, to integrate seamlessly with their existing software, giving ISVs a highly functional, scalable reporting and business intelligence application for their customers.

Customers

A recent study by MarketsandMarkets reported that the cloud-based business intelligence and analytics market is expected to grow from $5.25 billion in 2013 to $16.52 billion by 2018.2 With more than 1,000 customers, Zoho Reports has a whole market in which to grow into and carve its niche, which it has already done effectively with its CRM software, Zoho CRM.

Backed up by a fleet of other SMB-focussed Zoho products, Zoho Reports is built to address the reporting and analytical needs and aims of SMBs, providing a successful mix of usability, visual analysis, collaboration capability, affordability and wide integration.

The software, therefore, has a broad application, with Zoho Reports' customer base spanning universities, gaming companies and IT services companies. It is of most use, however, to SMBs, looking to monitor effectiveness, and sales, marketing and finance department heads, wanting to identify key insights and share data and analysis with their employees and managers.

Competition

Many SMBs use general-purpose applications, like Microsoft Excel, for their reporting and data analysis needs. But these tools form a loose, ad-hoc solution that lacks Zoho Reports' integration and fitness for purpose.

At the other end of the spectrum, typical enterprise-focused business intelligence tools, like Cognos and MicroStrategy, can cost a lot of money.

Zoho Reports successfully fills the gap between these two options.

In this space, Zoho Reports sees competition from SaaS reporting and business intelligence software, such as GoodData and Tableau, and business dashboard applications, such as Geckoboard, Cyfe and iDashboards.

Zoho Reports differentiates itself on ease of use, costs and transparency - GoodData, for instance, doesn't publish its pricing plans, which typically start at a much higher level than Zoho Reports' prices - and its native integration with other business software.

Differentiators

  • Inbuilt integration. Zoho Reports is just one of a larger suite of products looking to streamline the processes of SMB, so there's no need to patch together software from various vendors. It also makes for a lot of native integration with other Zoho software and Google Drive, with more connections on the horizon. No other vendor specifically targeting the SMB market offers both customer relationship management, reporting and business intelligence in the same suite.
  • SaaS pricing. The SaaS model makes for flexible pay-as-you-go pricing plans. Very little capital expenditure is required to get Zoho Reports running because, being cloud-based, it requires no expensive on-premise hardware and customers don't need to host the application on their own servers. On-premise reporting and business intelligence software, however, can rack up costs of hundreds of thousands. Zoho Reports lets smaller businesses pay for what they need when they need it rather than forcing them to make costly gambles on what they might need in the future.
  • Usability. The intuitive user interface means that anyone can use it from day one - no specialist training required. Reports are created via a simple but effective drag and drop system and can be shared in a read-only format or with permission for the end-user to adapt and edit. It takes the effort out of collaboration.

Pricing

Zoho Reports offers a flexible pay-as-you-go pricing structure with four tiers, along with a free plan for those who want to trial the software. Both yearly and monthly plans are available, with the yearly plans offering a saving of ten percent. You can also consult with the team at Zoho Reports to tailor the software to your unique needs, should you wish. Add-ons are also available for an extra cost.

Monthly plans

Yearly plans

Custom plans and add-ons

Product features

Upload, pull and push data

Feature and benefits Screenshot
Zoho Reports supports a variety of import formats. In addition, users can pull data from web URLs or enter data using the software's spreadsheet-like interface.
You can also push data from other business applications and databases, or connect with them using REST APIs to quickly pull in the data for analysis and reporting. Inbuilt integrations are currently available for Zoho CRM, Zoho Projects, Zoho Recruit, Zoho Creator and Google Drive, with Salesforce and Google Analytics in the pipeline.
Users can schedule regular imports to keep your team or clients informed.
You can automatically generate reports for speed, customising them later.
A typical report in bar chart form. Reports can be filtered to see only certain data sets and can be tinkered to create the report you want.
Zoho Reports gives you the ability to combine multiple charts and tables to create a dashboard, for a clear, concise overview.
You can open multiple reports and keep track of them using tabs. This allows for easy comparison and working on several reports at once.

Building reports

Feature and benefits Screenshot
Reports and can quickly put together with drag and drop functionality. And, when shared, colleagues can edit reports.
There are a variety of chart types to choose from.
The settings can easily be changed to get the insights you need.
You can create filters for reports to single out certain data sets.
Users can specify users and permissions, so only the relevant parties have access to the report.
You can also embed a report in an iframe to include the report in a web page or intranet.
You can then export your reports as a PDF, for example, and then email it to your team or client. In addition, you can schedule your reports or dashboards to be emailed automatically to keep the relevant parties up to date.

Specifications

Web browser requirements

  • Compatible with all modern browsers.

Database requirements

  • Zoho Reports is a multi-tenant, cloud-hosted product. It is not available for hosting on client servers.

APIs and integration

  • Inbuilt integrations are currently available for Zoho CRM, Zoho Projects, Zoho Recruit, Zoho Creator and Google Drive, with Salesforce and Google Analytics in the pipeline.
  • Zoho Reports provides REST API. It's an HTTP-based web API, enabling application development and integration in any programming language. Customers can import, share and export data and reports using these APIs.
  • Customers can import direct from databases such as MySQL, MS SQL, Sybase, Oracle and DB2.

Security and availability

  • Zoho is US/EU Safe Harbour compliant, verified by third party TRUSTe.
  • Zoho's data centre provider is Equinix, whose data centres are SAS 70 certified.
  • Zoho carries out daily and weekly backups. Multiple copies of the data are stored in two data centres (one primary and one disaster recovery).
  • Zoho also offers scheduled backup options, where the customer can download their data on a periodic basis.
  • Physical security: 7x24x365 security, video monitoring, biometric access and bullet-resistant walls.
  • Network security: encryption with 128/256-bit SSL, intrusion detection/prevention and virus scanning.
  • Redundancy and business continuity: distributed grid architecture, power redundancy, internet redundancy, redundant network, devices, redundant, cooling and temperature control, geo mirroring, fire prevention, data protection and back up.
  • Zoho continually updates its software. Typically, there is a major update once a month with multiple smaller updates in between. Zoho doesn't charge for updates and all users get to use the latest version.

Training and support

  • Zoho Reports Assist provides a free three-day assistance program for those getting started with the software.
  • Zoho offers professional services on a case-by-case basis to those customers that need more extensive help or want to customise the service.

Free Trial

  • Unlimited free trial available, with only two users allowed and limited functionality.
  • 15-day free trial available for Standard, Professional and Professional Plus plans.

Recommendations

Zoho Reports successfully fills the gap in the market between general-purpose software, used by SMBs for reporting and data analysis, and enterprise-level business intelligence tools. Being just one out of a suite of SMB-focussed Zoho applications, Zoho Reports is a cost-effective and powerful application that provides unparalleled inbuilt integration, meaning there's no need for an ineffectual patchwork system cobbled together from multiple vendors. Zoho Reports is built for the job and it shows it:

  • Fit for purpose. Zoho Reports is specialised reporting and business intelligence software, providing SMBs with the right tools to translate their data into smart business decisions.
  • Built-in Integration. Zoho Reports integrates with other Zoho products and Google Drive right from the box, with more connections on the way, so it fits in seamlessly with your existing business applications.
  • Intuitive user interface. The simple drag and drop mechanism makes it easy for anyone to create insightful reports and dashboard quickly, giving you and your team a clear visual overview of your progress.
  • Designed to scale. Being cloud-based, Zoho Reports is highly scalable and inexpensive to set up. There's no need for expensive on-premise hardware and the IT management that comes with it
  • SaaS pricing. The monthly or yearly pay-as-you-go payment plans and the ability to adapt the software to your unique business needs means you get a flexible, bespoke business tool.

Combining native connections, easy collaboration, simple report and dashboard creation and visual analysis, Zoho Reports makes for a highly functional, but affordable, reporting and business intelligence tool, letting you release the value of your data. Ultimately, the Zoho Reports lets you stay on top of your business.


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