Productivity SaaS provider Zoho has entered the business intelligence (BI) platform market, announcing an AI-powered, self-service platform that combines the new Zoho DataPrep application with an enhanced version of Zoho Analytics.
The Chennai, India-based multinational is betting that it can win over business users with a combination of features focused on ease-of-use, support for data preparation, and the ability to blend internal data with outside data sources. The new platform is extensible to more than 250 data sources.
The self-service BI market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 15.5% over the next five years, according to a recent forecast from ResearchandMarkets.com. Key competitors in the self-service BI market include Tableau and Domo, as well as Microsoft Power BI and IBM Cognos, among others.
“For data to be a true catalyst of business growth, there can’t be any gaps in the collection, management, or analysis process,” Sridhar Iyengar, managing director of Zoho Europe, said in a statement Tuesday, noting that Zoho BI Platform’s combination of data preparation and analytics is a key selling point.
Zia, Zoho’s AI tool, is central to the platform’s focus on ease-of-use, providing the ability to use natural language querying and generation, text narration of key insights from reports and dashboards, and cognitive and advanced analytics.
Zoho says its BI platform is built on four “pillars”: augmented data preparation and management, data stories, augmented analytics, and an app marketplace.
The first pillar is the company’s new Zoho DataPrep application, a self-service data preparation and management tool. It leverages machine learning to help business users integrate, model, cleanse, transform, enrich, and catalog data to create and manage data pipelines.
To help business users put ideas in context with data, Zoho has added an integrated enterprise portal builder (Zoho Sites) and presentation software (Zoho Show) to the platform. These two features enable users to embed live reports and dashboards into websites and presentations. Zoho aims to reduce friction by empowering business users to drive decisions with data without having to learn new tools.
The augmented analytics pillar adds to the company’s existing Zoho Analytics offering with conversational AI in the form of Ask Zia, as well as Zia Insights to provide textual narration of insights from reports and dashboards. Ask Zia allows business users to ask questions about data with natural language querying. Zia Insights includes a “what-if” capability for scenario analysis.
Adding such natural language capabilities is in line with the latest trend toward ease-of-use by self-service BI vendors, as evidenced by Tableau’s release of Ask Data and Explain Data for its platform.
Zoho Marketplace is the company’s fourth pillar for its BI Platform. Through this app marketplace, Zoho partners can develop and publish analytical apps and integrations. Zoho says it is also launching a series of deep native analytical apps, with domain-specific advanced analytics, in third-party marketplaces, including Shopify, ServiceNow, and Atlassian.
The new platform is immediately available in cloud and on-premises versions. The cloud version will cost £6.40 ($8.88) per user, per month, or £61 ($84.66) per user, per year. The on-premises version is £24 ($33.21) per user, per month, or £288 ($399.69) per user, per year.
Zoho is also making Zoho DataPrep available on a standalone basis. The standard plan starts at £30 ($41.63) per month for 2 million rows, including three users. There’s also a customizable enterprise plan offering with the pricing based on the customization.