For end users, Birst has a friendly UI that allows them to naturally interact with reporting data via web browser.
For properly modeled data, the visualizer tool makes it easy do build quick visualizations.
Surfacing data on dashboards with global filters allows users the flexibility to view multiple metrics with the same lens.
Data modeling is a particular challenge for both novice and experienced data engineers. The ETL tools are insufficient to meet even 1/2 of our needs, and as a result we have a separate platform for data warehousing and use the back end of Birst solely for data exploration projects.
There are occasionally delays in the UI when applying filters that often lead users to think that something is broken when in fact they just need to wait a few more seconds for the UI to change, even to let them know that it's still updating.
Customer service, while it has improved, is still poor relative to other vendors that we work with. I often feel that both our CSM and our support technicians are defensive and try to push the responsibility for sub-optimal experiences back on us, and while it sometimes *is* the case that it is an issue on our end, more often it is not and even when it is we shouldn't FEEL like that. None of our other vendors take this approach, and even when the problem is on our end, they support us getting through it in a much less defensive way.
Terrible documentation and training resources. Sometimes not enough documentation, sometimes it is WRONG! Often we are told to post our issues to the Birst user forum, as if we should be able to figure out our own problems rather than Birst troubleshooting their own product.
Sometimes when there are bugs we are told they will only be addressed by voting on them as feature requests, not addressing the bugs. Some feature requests are years old.
When using Birst Connect there is a lot that can go wrong on the Birst side of things completely out of our control, and then we are waiting on technical support to resolve. In particular the space can get "locked" if we try to process while it's already processing. I've also experienced where a staging table was deleted in the user interface, but not the backend of the tool, so it failed until the support team manually removed it.
Birst technical support is very weak. They often do not answer the phone, and they always ask to go on a call with you after submitting a ticket, no matter if we've provided extensive documentation within the ticket.
The ETL features are incredibly hard to use, though very powerful. As someone who has an understanding of database theory I found the fact that the training refused to teach to "primary keys" and "foreign keys" and "facts and dimensions" and instead made us learn a whole different terminology of "levels" and "hierarchies" very confusing.
Processing is entirely mysterious to us. There's little explanation of what is happening when it is processing, which makes it hard to troubleshoot when things go wrong.
Terrible or non-existent error messages. When a scripted source fails to execute the log in the scripted source doesn't even generate an error message. We've also found that the error message "data format is not correct" doesn't actually mean that, but can mean a whole bunch of other things related to the model.
Birst does not allow snowflake data structure more than 2 levels deep. This is a problem as our data warehouse is a snowflake, so we always have to flatten our tables.
Even though the visualization tool makes nice views, it is not as robust as even years old versions of Tableau. In particular I've found I often export my data out of Birst and into Tableau when I want to visualize two or more attributes.
Birst sends its users to the user Forum, but half of the issues on there have not been resolved. There's a person whose job it is to reply whether the users have figured out a solution. Why is this our responsibility to figure out their tool?
Very, very little support for using Live Access to connect to data. Some of the Birst support staff don't even know how to use it.
Birst is an platform that provides connectors to some of the applications we use, but also allows us to bring in data from disparate systems to perform ETL and integrate all of the data for analyses. It makes no assumptions about your data, which is good for us, as we have a lot of customizations to many of our systems.
Birst is making inroads towards a more modern UI.
The Birst product uses it's own query language (BQL) which we feel has been implemented in different ways in different parts of the product.
This makes learning the entire product more difficult than it ought to be.
The Birst idea of grains and hierarchies is hard to get a foothold on. I don't think I completely get it yet.
Competitive pricing for the features that are offered: We use various two other BI tools for operational reporting and we always have challenges of expanding it for larger audience due to the licensing cost. BIRST scores very well in the pricing department, with 1/5th of the price compared to other tools, this is an easy decision maker to recommend BIRST.
Being in Cloud: The strength of BIRST is that the product features that are made available but requires zero installation and administration. The overall support resources needed to maintain and manage the application has drastically come down.
Ease of use and integration with other data sources: Senior management leaders need quite a lot of information, in an easily readable format without having to go into multiple places. With Dashboard 2.0 and Visualizer, the contents now can be presented very intuitively and visually appealing. Users can also subscribe for certain reports to be delivered at various intervals. With multiple data connectivity options, we have successfully integrated many core systems under one single reporting umbrella.
Better MS-Office Integration: Almost all the Business users have invested in MS-Office products such as Excel, Word and Powerpoint. Currently there is very limited options available for taking data from BIRST and making it to work with these products. More export options would be a welcome feature among these users. Also the ability to connect to BIRST and refresh/download certain reports through excel would be very helpful.
Powerful Report Designer: The current version of Designer and Visualizer lack certain features to create Complex reports. Few examples are, ability to create multiple tables in a report, link data from two or more queries and be able to show as one data, templates, free style reports rather than just using different bands etc. A light weight client tool for designer reports will help in faster turn around development time as the current web based interface is slow in designing reports for customized layout options.
Custom forms / write ability: Dashboard 2.0 has evolved greatly. If custom forms can be created for users to enter certain inputs, this will make Dashboards even more interactive. Just a wish list.
Live connectivity to Salesforce.com: This will be a very good feature to introduce especially for Sales team. We have been asked at least 1000 times if there is a way to make the data more live or real time.
Birst is a cloud based BI platform and hence all our data is hosted on the cloud platform. Zalora had lot of data users who used to query the database, all these loads where shifted to birst and helped our in-house databases to function smoothly and concentrate on other critical processes.
Birst report scheduling functionality has been very useful for our company. reports are scheduled to emails to several operational heads to help them monitor action items and help to improve our operational KPIs.
Birst has been flexible with the number of users who can access the tool. Most of the BI platforms currently charges companies based on the users who would use the BI tool.
Birst is useful in performing time based KPIs such as YoY, WoW, MoM, Qtr-o-Qtr etc. There are several functions available which helps to perform time based calculation.
Birst is very useful in performing aggregations at different level (and different dates) as its based on star schema.
As all the reports are in cloud, birst reports can be easily shared with one another and acts as a report repository
Birst helps to maintain single source of truth and helps enforce standardized definitions for all our KPIs
Visualizer report rendering is of high quality and quite fast for simple data requests and pull
Birst provides snapshot functionality which is extensively used in our company to maintain the price logs and changes of all our merchandise.
Birst being a cloud based platform is a both a blessing and a curse. as the data scales the performance of the tool deteriorates. although simple KPI reports can be quickly obtained, load intensive functions such as STAT or LET becomes hard to perform.
The customer service is rather poor when the problems at hand are tough. The turnaround time for some of the bigger problems can go on for months without an alternative solution
The processing time for each space is not consistent. outside US servers the processing time is very time consuming. Our APAC spaces in birst gets updated data by afternoon of a working day.
The scheduled reports might not come in time if the server is busy. We have had instance in which the scheduled reports would come a whole 24 hours later than the scheduled time.
Birst is a very difficult setup for change. If the data in the company is changing constantly then birst is not the tool to be held with. after implementing best practices, we were able to bring down the processing time of birst live to max 25 mins.
When the size of the data scales, powerful functions such as STAT (bring data at a different level and aggregates in the report) and LET are hard to perform. We have had instance in which STAT would run for more than an hour to render reports
Birst designer are still in FLASH and the vizualiser which is in HTML5 lacks several critical functions like scheduling, notifications, saving expressions and managing them. this leaves the customer to use the designer module instead of the vizualiser module, however the support for designer has been removed without keeping in mind that the visualizer component is incomplete.
Plug n play analytics is hard to perform unless you have certain technical knowledge. Data in flat files or excel files cannot be analyzed or visualized instantly like it can be done in Tableau or any other BI Platform.
External Inputs cannot be made on the report. External parameters and data cannot be blended with the existing report. For example, if we had to increase our discounts by x% how much would our sales be? these kind of questions are hard to perform.
The syntax of each module in birst is different. This shows lack of team work within birst. for example. In designer module the ubiquitous if statement is denoted by IF and in Admin it is denoted by IIF. this would lead to end user being confused.
Certain important critical functions such as Report bursting, querying sample data and parameterized reporting are available only to the admins and not the end users.
Most of the code change requests in customer service tickets are still pending to date and some of them are unresolved.
Birst has quite a bit of learning curve as it has its own syntax. one would need to be educated to understand the different types of expressions which exist in birst.
Birst lacks search functionality in designer and searching in visualizer is rather tedious if you have several KPI named similarly
The Pivot Control functionality is rather poor and pathetically mimics the pivot of excel
Advance analytics is not possible. Different statistical models cannot be implemented. this would require data to be pumped out to perform advance analytics
The Tableau-Birst connect is limited to 500GB, hence if the data scales the ODBC connector would not be useful
The Data logs thrown out by birst needs to be more intutive and detailed. this would help new users to better understand the problems and troubleshoot it effectively
Usage tracking of birst is tedious which would require a separate space to be created just to track users.
Renewal costs are expensive given the price per BI Platform is coming down in recent years with more and more products coming online.
The ability to create a primary space that can be cloned repeatedly creates efficiencies in our development efforts.
We have a broad spectrum user base in terms of technical ability. Being able to extend or limit groups' privileges allows for optimal control with maximum flexibility.
One of our primary objectives is to utilize cloud resources. Birst allows us to leverage the technology but does not require the infrastructure allowing Harvest Food Solutions to focus on the solution.
Mobility is a major part of Harvest Food Solutions product offering. The current mobile capabilities are limited when dealing with single sign on and multiple domains.
The conversion from Designer to Visualizer has created challenges in features not being migrated.
Live Access is a key feature for us, but we want to be able to mix Live Data with Historical Data. That is currently not a simple process and requires multiple spaces. A simpler method is desired.
Deployment for multi-tenant environments is much easier than others I have used.
I like how easy it is to set up many dashboards and views that look standard and professional without a lot of formatting.
The query speed is very good for large amounts of data if there are adequate aggregates set up.
Documentation of the product in the help files is outdated and incomplete in many cases. Several features are only documented in the community because enough people have asked questions about a topic. The search functionality in both help and community is really bad.
Support tickets take way too long to answer and the answers are often inadequate. I have never worked with a company that has so few people on the support team or that took so long to respond. This is my biggest complaint and one that may result in switching products if it is not addressed.
User administration is scattered into many different places and bulk updates are only available for creating users. There should be bulk updates for adding users to spaces and to groups (possibly do all 3 things in one command?)
The Data Flow and Manage Local Sources code can't be used simultaneously and there is no documentation as to why. When a use case comes up where you need to switch from one to another it causes big issues.
Birst's SQL-like language is conveniently familiar for experienced developers
Birst integrates well with Salesforce and external CSV data sources.
Birst's support staff is reasonably responsive, if not always able to provide a satisfactory result.
Birst contains several sub-systems with similar, but signifcantly incompatible, syntax and functionalities. This leads to confusion and difficulty.
Birst provides insufficient control over how charts are rendered and how dashboard prompts are displayed and used. This has lead to significant dissatisfaction on the part of those for whom I've developed dashboards.
Significant parts of Birst resemble a relational database, but cannot be made to function like one. This results in jumping through complicated hoops to construct the fact tables for a multiple-relation data system.
One stop shop for ETL | Data model | Visualization. No need to learn a new tool for each layer of the end to end BI process or find resources to manage layers.
A perfect fit for a company of our size both in terms of head count and revenue.
The library of functions that allow you to digress from the star schema is very useful. For every 5 reports we create, at least one of them will conflict with the dimensional model in place. These functions come in very handy in those situations.
Advanced reporting is done using a feature called 'designer'. This is a reporting environment with a user experience that is stuck in the 90s. Its unfortunate that a modern BI tool that goes against the likes of looker and tableau has not put any effort to consolidate report creation into one env.
Visualizations are very limited. We are able to answer most of the questions using a table, pie, bar or line charts. But a specific use case that shows customer share of wallet would have been a great fit for Gantt chart but not supported in birst.
The things you can do to fancy up charts and tables are also very limited. For example, you cannot selectively display values for the line graph but turn it for the bars in the same chart. Conditional formatting is also very limited in nature.
Performance can be very slow sometimes. We don't have a large volume of data - considering that, the reports don't render fast enough.
The platform has more features set in ETL/data Model areas than in visualization.
BIRST provides touch points through their customer account management teams to help you get to completion with your projects.
BIRST has created a community for users to share solutions to problems with each other.
BIRST has a desire to help organizations succeed.
BIRST has a quality issue, many of the items delivered in the form of 'code-changes' are often not functioning correctly and existing features break between releases.
Reduce the pace of releases until quality assurance is higher, each release costs customers significant amount of resources to test and report back what's broken.
BIRST organizational structure often leaves account managers in the customer success group without insights into technology issues and release roadmaps. Frustrating customers who are waiting on fixes. Escalations are slow and take several quarters to be effective.
The ETL processes in Birst are exceptional. Birst builds our meta-data layer for us using Birst's proprietary technology.
Birst uses "spaces" to build/test/deliver BI content. This is easy to work with and provides a management process for us to build dashboards based on specific sets of spaces. This reduces our maintenance effort as our IoT database changes.
The support for Birst has been fantastic. Not that we have had to use it a great deal, but when we do both the online Birst Community and the contracted support have been spot on with their assistance.
Birst white labeling capabilities have provided Apex with a means to name and trademark our BI applications.
Birst Mobile has proven to be flexible and fast on iOS and Android platforms allowing Apex to move BI data from the desktop to the palm of the user's hand.
The training has been moved online, but there is a separate fee for each module. As a heavy user of Birst the training should be a part of the package embedding the cost into the annual subscription. Requesting an additional Purchase Order for training is time consuming and raises questions by Management.
The Visualizer tool is powerful and, as in any tool, we have a wish list of functional enhancements. The latest release, 5.29 provides significant additions voted up by the use community. If it isn't in Birst now, add it to the community and get it voted up!
The initial roll out of Predictive Analytics is a nice conceptual start. Hopefully Birst will grow this area significantly in 2018.
The white labeling feature could be enhanced to allow for customer based CSS control. As it is we cannot change page layouts forcing pages to appear less than visionary to our Customer base.
Documentation on "how to" functionality has been missing throughout our time with Birst. Occasionally Birst pushes out a document or a Customer writes one posting it to the Community Site. Birst Help is a resource, but it often provides what is obvious and not what is required to implement a complex feature.
Start-to-end data preparation, warehousing and report/dashboard development minimizes points of failure in an analytics solution
Easy to quickly develop prototype/proof of concept projects, meaning more productivity
Solution built for the cloud works seamlessly for users to access data anywhere
Better documentation of features and user guides - it can be hard to find or understand how to use a feature
Better feature request system - currently feature requests are sources from the community forums based on votes - multiple requests for the same issue may not individually receive enough votes to get implemented
More options of chart types - currently limited in what we are able to provide as the best chart types for the data are not available.
Dashboard / Report / Visualization Interactivity on Mobile (43)
What is Birst?
BI is a BI product that promises to enable a single view of data and eliminate data
silos. Additionally, decentralized teams and individual users can augment this
shared analytic fabric with their own local data, without compromising data governance.
This consistency comes from a unified semantic layer, which maintains common definitions
and key metrics, no matter where users sit.
Networked BI through a 2-tier architecture that aligns back-end enterprise data
with line-of-business or local, edge data. Birst’s Automated Data Refinement
extracts data from any source (data stores, applications, warehouses, big data,
and unstructured external sources) into a unified semantic layer. The result is
a consistent view that enables users with self-service analytics through dashboards,
reporting, visual discovery, mobile tools, and predictive analytics. Birst Open
Client Interface also offers integration with Tableau, Excel and R.
Birst goes to
market in two primary ways:
Direct, for enterprises using Birst for analytics on internal data to drive improved business outcomes
Embedded, for all size companies who offer data (analytics) products, by embedding and white-labeling Birst capabilities into their products
Birst’s product is packaged in 3 available formats:
Birst offers multi-tenant cloud BI for deployment in a public or private cloud, or on-premises. It provides an in-memory columnar data store and a BI layer comprising a reporting engine, predictive analytics tools, mobile native apps, dashboards, discovery tools, and an open client interface.