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Matthieu Munch

Birst: an attractive “all-in-one” Business Intelligence solution

The review of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms has revealed a new challenger that could become one of the leader of this market: Birst – an interesting “all-in-one” BI solution.

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Birst is an american company based in the Silicon Valley near San Francisco. Its SaaS (Software as a Service) BI solution mixes simplicity and power.
Just a little reminder before going forward: a complete Business Intelligence solution has two kind of tools:

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  • Back-end BI tools: these tools are used to load and transform the data before using it for reporting
  • Front-end BI tools: these tools are used by end user to do the reporting (creating reports, dashboards, drill down reports …)

So what are the assets of Birst’s BI Solution?

Regarding the ergonomics of the solution

All in One: All the BI leader solutions on the market are using more than one applications for back-end and front-end tools. Birst is the only one to provide all the tools using one interface.

Online product: Birst is an online solution. No installation on a device is needed. You can save your data, reports, and dashboard in your own “space” (in the example above, the name of the space is “SupremEats DEV) located in the cloud.

Regarding the back-end tool (ETL, semantic layer, …)

Cloud connectivity. As a cloud-based solution, Birst can load data from the cloud using special connectors. So you can very easilymix  your own business data with cloud data.

Tasks automation. The Birst admin application (used to design the data model) uses a lot of automated tasks especially regarding the generation of the star schema or business model:

  • Automatic generation from the joins in regard to the different facts and dimension tables
  • Automatic generation from the time dimension (year, quarter, month, …)
  • Automatic generation from the measures with context (e. g. sum of revenue, max revenue, min revenue, …)

Time development reduction. The data modelling tasks are very time consuming in a Business Intelligence project. The automation of such tasks can very much decrease the time of development. Of course, Birst has the possibility to create or transform its own schema like a traditional ETL tool.

Regarding the front-end tool (report, dashboard, navigation)

Intuitive interface. For the end-user, the simplicity of the report / dashboard creation interface is another advantage of this solution. All the creation steps are guided by an assistant. If you compare it with other products like QlikView or Webi from SAP Business Objects, the interface is easy to learn:
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Powerful reporting tool. However, it remains a high-performance product with the possibility of creating professional and complex reports or dashboards:

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Multi saving format options: Dashboards and reports can be saved using different format (saving in PDF format, XLS export, creation of a Microsoft Powerpoint, presentation …).

Scheduling option for the end user: The end user has the possibility to publish his reports using schedule options.

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Conclusion

Birst could become a future leader in BI solutions. Combining both simplicity and power, Birst can seduce a lot of mid-sized enterprises or business units within large enterprises with small- or medium-sized BI budgets.

2 Comments

  • Aftab Khan says:

    Great article to understand Birst. What do you think are some risks for Birst in terms of becoming a leader in their field? And do you think their recent partnership with Tableau means a tacit admission that customers are favoring Tableau for their front-end needs?

  • Matthieu Munch says:

    Hi Aftab, and many thanks for your comment.
    Regarding the risk for “Birst” to become a leader on the BI market, yes, it exists. For the moment, “Birst” is the leader for the BI Cloud solution and big BI companies like SAP or Oracle are looking for such a product to cover all the BI domain. And “Birst” is too small in term of notoriety and financial power to resist the pressure from BI leaders. Take an example with Business Objects. This french company was the leader on BI market untill they was bought by SAP.
    But the fact that “Birst” and “Tableau” have signed a partnership show us that both companies doesn’t want to be “phagocytosed” by BI leaders. They want to create their own market trend with developping product to do reporting in the Cloud. And togehter, I think they have a good chance to succeed because their products are complementary: “Birst” for the “ETL” part, “Tableau” for the “Reporting” part.
    And to answer at your second question, you can definetely say that “Tableau” is the most popular BI end-user tool, but only to do reporting in the Cloud. When you are speaking about “classic” reporting (with data located in a data warehouse), products like SAP Business Objects or QlikView still have the lead. Because they can propose a complete BI solution.
    To conclude, I will say that two kind of BI will exist in the same time:
    – BI in the Cloud
    – BI for classic needs
    Of course, you will have some interactions between twice. But the technology will not be the same. For example, Cloud reporting will use more and more the “No SQL” technology and the classic reporting will use the “In-Memory” technology.
    I hope that I have answered to your questions. Have a nice day.

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Matthieu Munch
Matthieu Munch

Consultant