Business intelligence is something that many larger businesses use,
but smaller businesses don’t really figure it into their needs. Being
smaller, they’re often busy putting out fires and just trying to
maintain the profitability levels they have. Investing in business
intelligence (BI) software, implementing it and using it, is something
they don’t think they need to do.
Birst makes software to help
businesses gain intelligence from their streams of data. Their
spokesperson helps us understand business intelligence better in the
How do businesses know if they need Birst. Maybe their spreadsheets are ok?
Most companies know very quickly when they’ve moved beyond
spreadsheets. It’s taking too much time, effort, and headaches to
create too few reports.
While spreadsheets are viable tools for information gathering, they
are no longer adequate enough to meet the needs of today’s business
environment. SMBs, in particular, must gather adequate information
without wasting time and talent.
Spreadsheets have the following challenges:
- Manual and time consuming
- Difficult to maintain version control
- Difficult to update analyses when data is updated
- Limits to the amount of data that can be analyzed
- Difficult to “join” different data sets together – from finance and marketing, for example
- Difficult to create reports on a regular basis and share with other people in the company
- Easy for information to get corrupted
What about the built in analytics of the services they use, such
as Google Analytics for web sites. In this case is Birst still needed?
The built-in analytics in applications are often inadequate. They
don’t have the flexibility and ability to “slice and dice” data that
real BI applications have. For this reason, the most frequent request
of Google Analytics is a robust API that would allow them to export the
data for further analysis. Google recently released an API, but it is
very rudimentary. For the same reasons, customers often search for
better reporting and analytics solutions for business applications like
Also, built-in analytics typically only deal with one data source –
the application itself. For example, Google Analytics is a business
intelligence tool for web analytics only. SMBs need to look at
everything across the business in order to make informed business
decisions. Birst tools assist companies in examining all aspects of
their business by combining and analyzing data from multiple systems
like finance and operations, customer service and the call system, or
marketing and websites, all within one solution.
What kind of applications can Birst connect to?
Birst handles data exported from applications like CRM, ERP, and
financial accounting software programs. Birst supports Oracle, SQL,
MySQL, and ODBC databases, delimited files (commas, tabs, etc.),
Microsoft Access database (.mdb or .accdb) files, Excel (.xls or .xlsx)
files, and cvs files. Birst also has a pre-built connector to
How much user intervention is required for Birst to work well?
Compared with traditional BI solutions, minimal intervention is required for Birst to work well.
That said, Birst is a very broad and powerful BI solution, so it can
be applied to many types of tasks for many different types of users.
The easiest scenario is a business user uploading clean, uncomplicated
data sets for standard reporting. Or, an IT analyst setting up
executive dashboards with easy-to-use filters and prompts that allow
business users to find the answers that they need quickly, all on their
If a company wants to set up terabytes of data from multiple sources
that require complex data transformations and calculations, this
requires more setup time. However, it’s still significantly faster than
attempting to do the same with a traditional on-premise software
solution, since Birst is a fully integrated BI solution that leverages
What is Business Intelligence? Is it simply a software product that interprets numbers in Excel or other application’s data?