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.
(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.)
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Custom plans and add-ons
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.|
|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.|
Web browser requirements
APIs and integration
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:
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.