Big data and business intelligence are key words in modern business management, as the profusion of data from a wide array of digital applications allows for the close reporting of everything from systems operations to employee performance.
However, while a lot of SaaS platform come with built-in analytics, often you'll need to combine different data sets from different sources, or even export data from spreadsheets.
This is where cloud-based analytics software really comes into its own, as not only will it be able to represent all those figures and numbers into clear visualizations, because it's based in the cloud it means the data can be synchronized and shared across key employees or supervisors.
While there are a wide array of analytics programs currently on the market, here we'll feature the best in cloud analytics programs.
- We've also highlighted the best cloud computing services
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Best cloud analytics - at a glance
- Microsoft Power Bi
- Zoho Analytics
- IBM Cognos
An extremely flexible and visible tool from Microsoft itself
Power BI is a business analytics service provided by Microsoft.
This solution helps users to consolidate all their useful data analytics into one place. Power BI is a suite of analytics tools which help gain insights into your organization. Subscribers can use it to access many supported cloud-based and on-premise sources such as Salesforce, Excel and Sharepoint.
Users can analyse data and find patterns they may missed in relation to their business. This is done through features such as quick measures, forecasting, grouping and clustering. Users more comfortable with Excel can use DAX formula to control this analytic tool.
Power BI is very visual. Users can create reports with interactive data visualizations. The dashboard is simple to use and includes a handy drag and drop feature. Reports are created with formatting, theming and layout tools.
The ‘Power BI Desktop’ plan is free and suitable for single users. It includes connections to a variety of different data sources, visual tools and analytic visualization tools.
The ‘Power BI Pro’ package is $9.99 per month per user. Clients can build dashboards that deliver a real-time, 360 degree, view of their business. It includes automation of updates, collaboration, audits, governance and distribution to users with apps.
The ‘Power BI Premium’ plan is based on capacity pricing. This can be calculated from the Power BI website.
Some online users have complained the dashboard isn’t fully customizable.
Powerful range of cloud-based analytics tools
Tableau offers a range of tools to provide business analytics and intelligence reports for individual analysts, teams and organizations, as well as for embedded analytics.
The toolkits can involve desktop, prep, server, and online versions, with access to each charged at different rates. For individuals, Tableau Creator offers something from each to create a suite of products for analytics from which you can prepare data for visualization, and use secure collaboration as required.
For teams add Tableau Explorer for full-service analytics in order to answer basic questions directly from data, as well as add Tableau Viewer for interactive visualizations.
Embedded Analytics, however, allows you to embed Tableau directly into applications. It also offers a range of APIs to allow you to customize and integrate analytics for customers, using a mix of Single Sign On (SSO) using SAML, OpenID, Kerberos, or Active Directory, as well as simple sharing for use with virtualizations.
Pricing for Tableau starts from $70 per user per month.
Have your cake and eat it: Zoho is intuitive but powerful
Zoho is a software development company based in India. It was founded in 2006.
The analytics application allows users access to an easy to use dashboard. It is part of Zoho’s software suite but works as a stand-alone package also. The interface is user friendly. From here users have access to a help center, a snapshot tour, a variety of data samples and live chat.
Zoho Analytics allows users to load data onto their reporting center with just a few clicks. The automation feature runs reports without prompt based on the type of data you have entered. Users can share data and collaborate on tables and reports.
More in-depth reporting is available but this is more suitable for experienced users. This advanced reporting includes a handy drag and drop feature which is used to insert data into columns you create. With a variety of filters, users can sort data, queries and output visualizations as needed. Analysts can also run custom made SQL (Structured Query Language) queries.
The ‘Basic’ package is $25 per month and includes two users, 0.5 million rows, unlimited reports, over 100 data connectors, Zoho Apps connectors, slideshow and daily sync.
The ‘Standard’ plan starts at $50 per month. Extras include 5 users, 1 million rows, hourly data sync, groups support, workspace admin role and data backup.
The ‘Premium’ tier starts at $125 per month. Along with 15 users and 5 million rows, users also receive logo rebranding and private links.
The ‘Enterprise’ package is $495 per month. This includes 50 users, 50 million rows, 5x performance and live chat support.
Some reviewers have note that the advanced features take some time to master.
Import, filter and generate reports with ease via Domo’s customizable platform
Domo is a software company which specializes in business intelligence tools and data visualization. It was founded in 2010.
Users can manage all functions from the main dashboard. It is straight forward to use and easy on the eye. The dashboard works in real-time. Users can view data relating to multiple business areas, return-on-investment, key performance and indicators.
Domo has its own App Store where users access free and paid connectors. Also, included are a huge variety of plug-ins which help with tools such as Microsoft Excel and PowerPoints.
The ‘Workbench’ imports large amount of data via XML, ODBC and Excel amongst others into the solution.
The ‘Analyzer’ application allows users to view results they are most interested in. Less interesting data can be hidden with one-click. Users can filter the data they want to share with other users.
Domo offers a free 30-day trial. This includes 5 users, 5 million rows of data and hourly data refresh. The ‘Standard’ package offers a free trial plus up to 20 users and available consulting.
The ‘Professional’ package includes all of what the ‘Standard’ package has to offer plus unlimited users, 250 million rows, on-demand data refresh and premium support.
The ‘Enterprise’ plan has all the features of the ‘Professional’ package plus unlimited data, advanced governance, security and HIPAA compliance.
Pricing for all packages is available upon request.
Self-service business intelligence you can trust
IBM's Cognos Analytics is a business intelligence platform and self-service analytics solution that uses AI and machine learning. The aim is to discover patterns of information other products cannot find using advanced pattern detection, and provide both answers and actionable insights through the natural language-powered AI assistant.
Cognos Analytics can be run from the cloud or on your premises. Either way, data in the form of spreadsheets or CSV files can be uploaded to the program, where the data sources can be combined and modeled. Cognos recommends what it believes are the best chart types for visualization, and reports have geospatial-mapping capabilities. Charts can also be augmented with other media, such as voiceovers, and interactive elements can be incorporated.
Pricing for an on-demand, cloud-based solution starts from $15 per month and runs as an on-demand SaaS solution. There's an Enterprise version available for critical performance needs which also allows other IBM services to be bought in and integrated, but you will need to get a quote for pricing in this case.
There's a free 30-day trial available which allows full use of the product.