An Overview of Zoho Analytics

11/28/2023 07:49 AM By Candice D.

A User-Friendly Business Intelligence Platform

Zoho Analytics is a powerful cloud-based data analytics platform that allows your business to gather data from multiple sources to analyze it. This is a powerful business intelligence platform where you can create insightful reports and dashboards to tell the story behind your business' data.  At its core, Zoho Analytics enables you to provide actionable insights.

What We Love About Zoho Analytics

1. Blending data from different sources. For example, you can combine your CRM Account data with bookkeeping data and SalesIQ data. This allows you to see a bigger picture of customers. 

2. Pre-built connectors for common applications. Rather than needing a developer, Zoho Analytics offers built-in integrations. In addition, you can connect to any data source using SQL queries.

3. Diverse data visualizations. You can pick from an array of different charts, tables, pivot tables, maps and more to represent your data.

4. Easy collaboration and sharing. Whether sharing reports and dashboards among team members, or even to others, we love the ability to have a variety of sharing options. In addition, there are ways to easily collaborate on reports with your team.

The purpose of any analytics platform is to unlock valuable insights from your business data that enables data-driven decision making.

Data Sources

Zoho Analytics connects to a wide variety of data sources to ingest data for analysis. This includes:

- **Databases** - Connect to databases like MySQL, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, and Oracle to bring in relational data.
- **Cloud Apps** - Integrate data from popular cloud applications like Zoho CRM, Zoho Books, Zoho Inventory, Zoho Survey, and more. This allows you to combine data from multiple Zoho apps.
- **Files** - Import data from CSV, TSV, XML, JSON and Excel files. This provides an easy way to bring in data from other systems.
- **REST APIs** - Pull in data from any application with a REST API. This provides flexibility to connect to custom applications. 
- **Webforms** - Collect data directly from your website visitors with webforms. The submitted data can then be analyzed in Zoho Analytics.
- **Feeds** - Ingest data from RSS and Atom feeds, like Google Analytics data.

The variety of data sources supported allows Zoho Analytics to connect to all your critical business data. You can combine data from multiple sources for a unified view and in-depth analysis.

Data Warehousing

Zoho Analytics pulls data from various sources and stores it in a data warehouse optimized for analysis. This allows you to combine data from multiple sources like databases, cloud apps, files, etc. and analyze relationships between different data sets. 

Some key aspects of Zoho Analytics data warehousing:

- **Scheduled incremental pulls** - You can configure schedules to automatically pull updated data from sources on a recurring basis (hourly, daily, weekly etc). This ensures your warehouse always has the latest data.
- **Change data capture** - For database sources, Zoho Analytics can identify and pull only new/changed records since the last extract. This incremental approach minimizes load on your databases.
- **Pre-built connectors** - Connectors for apps like Zoho CRM, Google Analytics, MySQL etc make it easy to integrate data from various sources. No coding needed.
- **Cloud data warehouse** - The data warehouse lives in the cloud, minimizing hardware/maintenance requirements. It auto-scales as your data grows.
- **Data modeling** - You can shape and transform the raw data into an analysis-friendly model using joins, aggregations, formulas etc. 
- **Compression and optimization** - Data is compressed and optimized for fast querying. Common transformations are pre-calculated and stored for quick access.

Proper data warehousing and ETL by Zoho Analytics enables business users to efficiently analyze large, disparate data sets on-demand, without dependency on IT teams. The automated, incremental pull of live data from diverse sources provides a flexible, scalable foundation for data-driven analysis and decision making.

## Analysis
Zoho Analytics provides powerful options for analyzing your data beyond standard reports and dashboards. Some key analysis features include:

**Pivot Tables**
Pivot tables allow you to dynamically filter, sort, group, and summarize your data according to your needs. You can drag and drop fields to create custom pivot tables that provide additional insights from your data. Pivot tables make it easy to uncover trends and patterns.

**Statistical Analysis** 
In addition to viewing your metrics, Zoho Analytics allows you to apply statistical analysis like averages, standard deviation, variance, etc. This allows you to go beyond surface level analysis and understand the distribution of your data.

**Predictive Analytics**
For more advanced analysis, Zoho Analytics offers a predictive analytics engine. This uses machine learning algorithms to detect patterns and make predictions about future outcomes based on historical data. Predictive analytics provides useful insights for forecasting and decision making.

**Anomaly Detection**
Zoho Analytics can automatically detect anomalies or unusual patterns in your data. This makes it easy to identify outliers that may skew results or point to unexpected events in your business processes. Detecting anomalies helps you stay on top of changes.

**Cohort Analysis**
Cohort analysis lets you group users or events by shared characteristics and analyze their behaviors over time. This is useful for understanding user lifecycles and patterns. Zoho Analytics simplifies cohort analysis so you can gain better customer insights.

**Funnel Analysis** 
With funnel analysis you can define steps or stages in a process and evaluate how users flow through the funnel. This helps uncover inefficiencies or drop-off points in processes like sales, conversions, sign-ups, etc. Zoho Analytics' funnel analysis provides actionable data to optimize these processes.

You can define and analyze segments of users or events that match criteria you specify. For example, segmenting customers by location, demographics, behavior, etc. This gives perspective into how different segments compare. Segmentation enables customized analysis.

Zoho Analytics equips you with multiple ways to derive insights from your data beyond standard reporting. The advanced analysis functionality provides the power to ask and answer critical business questions.

## Visualizations
Zoho Analytics provides a wide variety of visualization options to help you present your data in a meaningful way. You can choose from common chart types like bar charts, line charts, pie charts, and scatter plots. More advanced options are also available such as heat maps, treemaps, box plots, and even geographic maps.

Some key features of Zoho Analytics visualizations:
- Drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to create custom charts 
- Interactive options like drill down and filtering allow users to dive deeper into the data
- Customizable colors, labels, and formatting 
- Ability to combine multiple metrics into one visualization
- Options for comparing time periods, categories, and metrics
- Export images and pdfs to use visualizations in reports and presentations

When creating visualizations in Zoho Analytics, it's important to consider the story you want to tell and choose the chart type that will best communicate the insights in your data. For example, line charts are ideal for showing trends over time, bar charts make comparisons easy to see, and geographic maps can uncover location-based patterns. 

Taking the time to create polished, customized visualizations will make your data more engaging and impactful for stakeholders. The visualization options in Zoho Analytics provide all the building blocks you need to turn raw data into meaningful charts and graphs that bring your analysis to life.

## Collaboration
Zoho Analytics makes it easy for teams to collaborate on reports and insights. The platform includes several collaboration features:

Shared Reports
Users can share reports with other users or teams. Shared reports allow everyone to access the latest version of the report and underlying data. Permissions can be set to allow collaborators to edit and customize the report if needed.

Annotations allow users to leave comments on specific parts of a report, like a particular chart or data point. These threaded conversations are handy for discussing findings, asking questions, and highlighting areas to investigate further.

Reports can be turned into slideshow presentations for sharing insights. Slideshows can be customized, annotated, downloaded, and presented.

Scheduled Emails
Users can email scheduled reports to various recipients like team members or managers. Scheduling ensures that important reports are delivered right to stakeholders' inboxes.

Integration with Apps
Zoho Analytics integrates with business apps like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoho CRM. This allows sharing into preferred platforms and centralizing data insights.

With its emphasis on collaboration, Zoho Analytics moves analytics from an isolated, individual process to an interactive team effort. Multiple people can provide input on reports and share insights across the organization.

## Implementation Tips

Implementing a new business intelligence and analytics platform like Zoho Analytics takes careful planning and execution. Here are some best practices, tips, and lessons learned from real-world Zoho Analytics implementations:

- **Start with the end in mind.** Have a clear vision for what insights you want to gain from your data. Design your data framework, models, reports, and dashboards to align with those goals from the outset. 
- **Involve stakeholders early.** Get input from the business users who will be leveraging the analytics. Understand their requirements and ensure the solution will meet their needs. Their engagement is key to driving adoption.
- **Take an iterative approach.** Don't try to build everything all at once. Roll out features iteratively to show value quickly. Start with basic reporting and then expand into advanced analytics. 
- **Plan for change.** Business needs evolve so build flexibility into your analytics solution. Ensure it can adapt easily as requirements shift.
- **Focus on data quality.** Bad data leads to bad analytics. Invest time upfront in cleaning and organizing your data sources. Automate error checking processes.
- **Standardize data.** Create consistent metrics, attributes, and dimensions across data sources. This avoids comparing apples to oranges. 
- **Leverage defaults.** Zoho Analytics ships with pre-built templates, reports and dashboards. Use them as a starting point to accelerate implementation.
- **Automate administration.** Use scheduled data loads, email reports, user access controls to reduce ongoing admin overhead. The system should run itself.
- **Deliver insights.** The tool is just part of the solution. Building a data-driven culture is key. Focus on delivering relevant insights that drive business value.

## Conclusion 
Zoho Analytics is a powerful business intelligence and data analytics platform that can provide organizations with the insights they need to make data-driven decisions. By connecting to data from a variety of sources, transforming and warehousing that data, and enabling users to analyze and visualize data through an easy-to-use interface, Zoho Analytics makes it simple to unlock the value in company data.

Some of the key benefits of using Zoho Analytics include:
- Flexible data connectors to integrate data from multiple sources, both on-premises and in the cloud. This eliminates data silos and provides a single source of truth.
- Automated data warehousing and ETL to prep and transform data for analysis. This saves time compared to manual data processing.
- Powerful analytics capabilities like forecasting, predictive analytics, and more to uncover insights. Users of all skill levels can take advantage of these features through the intuitive interface.
- Customizable dashboards and reports that can be shared with stakeholders across the organization. This facilitates data-driven decision making company-wide.
- Real-time data connectivity that enables up-to-date insights. Action can be taken quickly based on the latest data.
- Mobile access for monitoring analytics from anywhere. Data is always at your fingertips.

For any organization looking to make better, more informed business decisions, Zoho Analytics is worth considering. The platform brings together the people, processes, and technologies needed for data-driven decision making. With the ability to connect to data from enterprise systems, warehouse it, analyze it, and share insights through visually compelling dashboards, Zoho Analytics can be a valuable addition to your BI and analytics technology stack.