Great for embedded visualizations on a web site on a low budget
August 14, 2020

Great for embedded visualizations on a web site on a low budget

Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Software Version


Overall Satisfaction with Zoho Analytics (formerly Zoho Reports)

Zoho Analytics gives us a friction-less way to provide dynamic, expressive data on our University's public website.

Problem to solve: Multiple University departments are charged with supplying University facts and statistics to the website. Previously, our only method of fulfilling our responsibility to publish this data was to give PDFs to Marketing, which is responsible for the website. The presentations were not exciting for prospective students or other site users! While Drupal (the site platform) is very capable, we don't have direct access to work with it. Marketing has limited technical ability in-house and consultants are expensive, so we can't give them raw data and expect them to provide visualizations for us. We also have very limited budget for tools.

Zoho resolution of problem: I now massage the data on-premises, on behalf of the responsible departments, and upload it to Zoho. I create visualizations there, arranged in dashboards, and with a substantial amount of control over filtering and presentation. Department users can easily provide feedback to my initial mockups, and changes are easy to make on their behalf, so this becomes a creative, collaborative process. We only have to give Marketing the code to embed our dashboards in their pre-built pages. Not only does this approach allow site users to explore and understand the data much more effectively than the PDFs full of tables did, but also I can refresh the data for a new academic year "under" the visualizations, without Marketing having to change anything.
  • Very good bang for the buck, especially if you pre-handle your data before uploading so you're not reliant on the Zoho SQL syntax of raw tables and have fewer, wider rows.
  • Reasonable assortment of chart types.
  • Usable design surface, especially for a fully web based system.
  • Reasonably intuitive organization of content types.
  • Nice handling of aggregation functions.
  • Limitations in SQL syntax are difficult to guess at; it's a matter of trial and error to find out what won't work as expected. The docs are a little mystifying on this point ("Please do note that this is just a suggested list of functions and is not limited to it. Although, the suggested list is guaranteed to work.") Similarly, you can embed HTML in a dashboard component, including script functions, but it's not clear what will work and what will not. It's just a question of trying stuff out.
  • Sometimes it's difficult to know when a change has been saved automatically and when it needs an explicit action. In a similar way, when you're designing a chart, it's sometimes difficult to tell whether you were in View mode or Edit mode after you click Settings (there is no visual clue at that point) and sometimes it seems as though what you do in Settings will have different results depending on what mode you were in. I could be wrong about what's really happening, and whether it's related to mode, but have definitely experienced different results with the same action. This especially applies to formatting such as axis fonts.
  • When I'm in the Explorer and click to open a designer, I would love it if the workspaces tab could be clicked to go to the Explorer (it's just a dropdown of available workspace names). I know I can use the sidebar to do this, but it's counter-intuitive that I can't click on that top tab the same way I can click between other top tabs to bring multiple designer surfaces forward while I work. A small thing but it gets me every time.
  • I don't find the generated chart and dashboard examples helpful.
I looked at MS Power BI, Tableau, and Google Data Studio. I am also a user of other reporting and analytic tools, primarily Microsoft technologies. Google Data Studio was just counter-intuitive to use, I didn't get very far with it, and Zoho had a lower barrier to entry for quicker, affordable, and good-looking results than the other two.
I can't really evaluate this. I custom-built the required export facilities on-premises, so all the merging and most of the massaging is already done, and I upload manually using Excel. I like the breadth of connectors that Zoho offers, and if I were in a corporate setting I'd probably be very happy to use them.
I do enjoy the calculated columns facilities, which allow me to add or prototype additional needed attributes when I find I need to do that while working on a new report.
I am the sole user, so far, so no real collaboration, but the report distribution ability, embedding published reports into our web site, is good and is why we need the product.
It's very helpful for small companies with a limited budget to perform some data analysis and visualization. It's probably super helpful if you are tied into the Zoho ecosphere for your other business applications, although we are not in that position. It's also great that Zoho requires no on-prem installed component, for people without access to IT support and limited rights to install applications. Because you will eventually run into charting limitations, if you have high expectations and IT support, however, many people are going to be happier with Tableau from the point of view of options.

Please note that my ratings are based on the Basic plan, so there are features Zoho has that I will not rate because, at this level, they are too limited to be practical.

Zoho Analytics Feature Ratings

Pixel Perfect reports
Customizable dashboards
Drill-down analysis
Formatting capabilities
Report sharing and collaboration
Publish to Web
Publish to PDF
Report Delivery Scheduling
Not Rated
Pre-built visualization formats (heatmaps, scatter plots etc.)
Location Analytics / Geographic Visualization
Predictive Analytics
Not Rated
Multi-User Support (named login)
Multiple Access Permission Levels (Create, Read, Delete)
Single Sign-On (SSO)
Not Rated
Responsive Design for Web Access
Mobile Application
Not Rated
Dashboard / Report / Visualization Interactivity on Mobile
Not Rated
Not Rated