UPDATED 12:00 EDT / JULY 13 2021

BIG DATA

Zoho announces new business intelligence and data preparation tools

Software-as-a-service business tools provider Zoho Corp. today announced a new business intelligence platform that combines its new data preparation application with an enhanced version of its analytics application to help companies gain better real-time insights to inform their business strategy.

Zoho is a leading provider of cloud-based business applications, which cover a wide range of processes including accounting, employee onboarding and productivity.

The Zoho BI Platform takes data from more than 250 sources, including tools made by third-parties such as Google LLC, Microsoft Corp., Zendesk Inc., HubSpot Inc., Mailchimp Inc. and Stripe Inc. It prepares that information and then blends and analyzes it to deliver business insights. Insights are displayed in easy-to-use visual dashboards.

One of the core components of Zoho BI is Zoho DataPrep, a new offering that’s also available standalone. It uses artificial intelligence to create and manage data pipelines that integrate, model, cleanse, transform, enrich and catalog information, making it ready for analyses.

Another key ingredient of the platform is Ask Zia, which is the company’s conversational AI platform. Ask Zia gives business users without technical skills an easy way to explore, find and ask questions about their data. It also includes what-if capabilities that enable scenario analysis to help with more effective decision making, Zoho said.

Zoho Chief Evangelist Raju Vegesna explained these two components are key, because one of the most important considerations with any business intelligence platform is that there are no gaps in the data collection, management or analysis processes.

“Too few BI platforms in the market excel in both data preparation and analytics, which leaves businesses with weak, or worse, flawed insights,” he said. “Zoho’s BI platform ensures organizations are acting on legitimate data which can be effectively leveraged to determine new revenue streams, refocus funds, drive productivity and gain a competitive edge.”

One of the more useful features within Zoho BI is its “data stories” function. That makes it possible to embed live reports, dashboards and visualizations into websites and PowerPoint-type presentations, so users can provide additional context to whatever subject they’re discussing. In additiion, Zoho said, it will leverage the Zoho Marketplace so partners can develop and publish “analytical apps and integrations” that will complement Zoho BI.

Furthermore, Zoho said it has launched what it calls “deep native analytical apps” that provide domain-specific advanced analytics in third-party marketplaces such as ServiceNow, Atlassian and Shopify.

Constellation Research Inc. analyst Doug Henschen said self-service data preparation, computer-augmented analysis and in-context story telling are all important, emerging capabilities that will help to differentiate Zoho’s platform. “The ability to build and share analytic apps is yet another differentiator, so I’m particularly excited to see Zoho enabling customers to publish breakthrough, data-driven applications,” he added.

Zoho said the Zoho BI Platform is available in the cloud or on-premises. Prices start at $8 per user per month for the cloud version and $30 per user per month for the on-premises offering. For companies that want an annual subscription, the offerings are priced at $108 and $360 per user, respectively.

The new Zoho DataPrep offering is available separately, with a standard plan priced at $40 per month for two million rows with a maximum of three users. More customizable enterprise plans are also available.

Photo: Wikimedia

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