Birsting with BI Success
Updated October 01, 2015

Birsting with BI Success

Deborah Stillwell Judy | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Software Version

5.18 Cloud SAS

Overall Satisfaction with Birst

Birst was selected as our single business intelligence solution solving our "single source of truth" challenge moving away from spreadmarts and individual definitions of the truth. We started our Birst development as support for individual functional departments [Sales Analytics, Team [HR], Finance and Service/Warranty]. The current year objective is to pull together the integrated organizational view across functional areas.
  • Single solution, integrated end to end [ETL, database, Administration, Design, Dashboards presentation].
  • Very stable application - uptime is great, software upgrades seamless.
  • Administration Tools: users, groups, security, customization very intuitive.
  • Quick start.
  • Pace of introduction of new features.
  • Community sharing portal is an excellent resource of Knowledge Base documentation, and discussions of challenges/resolutions by other customers.
  • Community is also used to submit ideas and enhancement requests, so that voting raises top recommendations, Birst listens and responds.
  • Birst defines their success as achieved by our success.
  • Ability to find things in Think Tank Community, need a better way to keep similar topics grouped, inconsistent tags.
  • Community: assumption that this is the first place for answers to issues; which causes time extension for resolution of business challenge.
  • Training: need some freebee's like single topic Lunch & Learn webinars
Five years ago when we were researching our BI options, we considered Pentaho and Jaspersoft.
No comparison, as they were more programmatic centered and also involved independent modules, so would require multiple components for a total solution.
In the first hour of testing Birst, we knew it was the one, very intuitive!
It's a perfect fit for our organization! We have been able to reasonably increase our licensing to grow with our organization.
50 licenses, 32 assigned, 10 active users 22 periodic users
Expectation is that periodic users will move to active users as we deploy more cross departmental data visualization.
Birst connects to all of our required data sources, so satisfied. Birst continues to listen to customers and announce new connectors. With Live Access and functionality from Managed Data Mashups, the possibilities are endless.
  • We have been able to integrate Birst as a menu link to be accessed from within our operational system; which provides a seamless interface between daily operational and historical analysis. This menu link checks security and passes credentials between the two applications.
  • We have scheduled reports that automatically distribute/burst apart region reports so that each Sales Rep gets his group of projects only, but the Sales Coordinator gets the full region report.
Birst has proven by example that it is well suited for many - from a departmental fit to large organizational solutions.
When we compared Birst to other BI tools we had these questions:

  1. Infrastructure - what is required for hardware/software/connectivity, data storage and ability to handle data growth?
  2. Security - how do they handle the risk areas?
  3. Staffing - how many roles are required to support the application, can a non-programmer administer the application and design data visualization?

Birst Feature Ratings

Pixel Perfect reports
10
Customizable dashboards
10
Report Formatting Templates
10
Drill-down analysis
10
Formatting capabilities
10
Integration with R or other statistical packages
Not Rated
Report sharing and collaboration
10
Publish to Web
Not Rated
Publish to PDF
10
Report Versioning
Not Rated
Report Delivery Scheduling
10
Pre-built visualization formats (heatmaps, scatter plots etc.)
10
Location Analytics / Geographic Visualization
10
Predictive Analytics
10
Multi-User Support (named login)
10
Role-Based Security Model
10
Multiple Access Permission Levels (Create, Read, Delete)
10
Responsive Design for Web Access
10
Dedicated iOS Application
10
Dedicated Android Application
Not Rated
Dashboard / Report / Visualization Interactivity on Mobile
10

Using Birst

32 - Individual functional departments [Sales Analytics, Team [HR], Finance and
Service/Warranty]. Individuals who use Birst are Administrative Reporters and Business Analysts. Future use will include the deployment of a cross business executive dashboard which will be geared to High Level Exec Team viewpoints.
2 - 2 People - One 90% Administration and Designer, one 5% occasional Designer and backup Administrator

Support of the Birst infrastructure is random, once established it is pretty stable.
Support of the Design deliverables is dependent upon your company objectives for BI.
Support of any technical cases requires ability to clarify issue, offer hypothesis based on what has been tried, specifics about where failure occurred.

I believe it is more important to have the knowledge of business objectives and root data. Aptitude for self discovery, and continuous presentation of the "Five Why's" until the root cause is reached. The BQL used to define custom advanced expressions is very logical, so if you can understand the structure of the expression, you will do okay.
  • Interactive standardized view for a Sales Managers dashboard: specific for their Region, focusing in on right data, right format, right timing so that they can take action and effect the future results rather than just dealing with static reports of what has happened
  • Cross functional analysis
  • Mobile, dependent upon organizational objectives
  • Comparison of Actuals to Plan, is the variance increasing or decreasing
  • Historical Trends: what does history tell us about a specific element or in comparison to other elements
  • Projections: what's on the books scheduled for when
  • Efficiencies of reporting, Automatiion of report distribution: having the ability to create it once but view it via many parameters, auto distributing of reports to those not directly on Birst
  • Not unexpected nor innovative, but valuable to us - ability to support a fact driven sales planning cycle [sales rep specifics, Region overview, Total Sales Plans]

Evaluating Birst and Competitors

Yes - Excel spreadmart extracts from our operational system, caused multiple different views of values that should be consistently the same. By having Birst as our single source of truth and common definition of filters for inclusion/exclusion, all are reporting same number for chosen points.
  • Price
  • Product Features
  • Product Usability
  • Vendor Reputation
  • Analyst Reports
  • Third-party Reviews
We found Birst because of a white paper. Now that we had their name we were able to find references by Analysts and Third-party reviews of their rise in features and recognition as a viable solution provider.

Product Usability was probably our most important factor of our decision: how easy was it to use and could the work be handled by a single Administrator/Designer or were multiple staff positions required?
We matrixed key features and functionality and as stated earlier within an hour we were confident that we had found the right solution provider for our company.

Birst Implementation

Have clean data!

Birst flexibility allows - Start small, then introduce functionality and complexity along the way. If you try to present all the functionality [bells and whistles] and wow them, but bad data is uncovered, the end user blames the new application and turns away.
  • Vendor implemented
  • Implemented in-house
Yes - We started with a pilot project where Birst Professional Services was in partnership with us to teach while they instructed us on the steps to perform. Then they coached us as we implemented our first space.

We have also used a Birst Partner, Cervello to help us with our Team space implementation.
Change management was minimal - Since we have taken our time with implementation, we try to find the value exchange of why to use Birst and new data visualization; so the user connects with the new methodology. So yes change is a paradigm that constantly is there, we handle it okay.
  • Internal data cleanzing! This is a huge component that tends to get overlooked. Data visualization can uncover a lot of junk data.

Birst Support

When we have an issue that is stopping our business from proceeding, I want answers sooner than later. While Birst does have a published response time for each case level, we always wish it could be quicker. What response improvement could there be with a larger support team?

In response to first question: Blackhole of issues - Birst needs to improve upon closing issues that resolution was dependent upon code fixes or enhancements, perhaps someone to add a comment on all case tickets at least every 60 days.

Escalation - I always have the ability to electronically or via phone escalate a ticket. I also have my Customer Success Manager through whom I can escalate topics.
ProsCons
Quick Resolution
Knowledgeable team
Problems get solved
Kept well informed
No escalation required
Immediate help available
Support understands my problem
Support cares about my success
None
Yes - To the non-technical user you're not sure if it is a bug, a gap in functionality, or plain user error. Birst will retest to replicate issue, then have an internal escalation between Tech Support and Engineering. Once the Engineering ticket is closed by code in new version, Tech support follows up with Customer.

Yes, resolution occurs timely, as we can count on maintenance releases between major releases.
Too many to select just one. Birst Tech support partners with customer to understand the challenge and then to teach with explanation of resolution. If the topic has not yet been covered in The Think Tank Community, they will also create a Knowledge Base document so that others may benefit from the efforts.

Using Birst

Quick start for the novice, but powerful enough to satisfy the programmer.
ProsCons
Like to use
Relatively simple
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Well integrated
Consistent
Quick to learn
Convenient
Feel confident using
Familiar
None
  • Dashboard designs, especially with Dashboards 2.0, exceptionally easy
  • Data refresh, whether manual upload or automatic with BirstConnect, easy to understand
  • Love the toggle between chart and data, allows us to present data as data visualization form, but allows end user comfort of quick access to rows/columns view too
  • When building custom expressions - error alerts don't guide you understanding or discovering corrective actions [e.g. missing punctuation settings]

Birst Reliability

Best in Class - In 4yrs we've only had 2 events when it was offline and they were early on in our use so no business impact. The methodology used for version upgrades always works well for uptime.