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User Review: "Birst Delivers as Promised!"
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Updated February 13, 2018

User Review: "Birst Delivers as Promised!"

Score 8 out of 101
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Overall Satisfaction with Birst

Apex selected Birst to deliver product specific dashboards for our Industrial Dispensing, Asset Management, Real Time Retail and IT Service Management customers; approximately 10,000 globally.

As an IoT company Apex is on the cutting edge of providing our customers with the best BI to assist in product implementation and management. Birst works well for our customer base with fast development and deployment capabilities along with white labeling technologies.

In 2018 Apex released Lenz to our Customer base at the National Retail Federation convention in New York City. The release coincided with the release of upgrades to a number of our product lines. Lenz is not serving hundreds of Apex customer delivering insight into actionable data. This is a key differentiator for Apex saving time and money for our Customers.
  • 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.
  • Speed and agility
  • Ability to meet corporate data standards such as scale and security
  • Decreased deployment time and risk
Apex successfully launched a white label branded BI application, Lenz (Birst), to over 10,000 Customers. This included BI for three separate applications with distinct users many of which do not have a data analytics background. Customer feedback has been overwhelming positive allowing Apex to lead the way in our market verticals with first in market BI.

The UI/UX for Lenz provides for a basic data layout suited to our Customer base. Lenz's ease of use, including embedded online documentation, delivers an outstanding customer experience. Coupled with this the multi-language capabilities added in 2017 have provided management and delivery of a BI tool to our global customer base.

Going forward Apex looks forward to an increased drive by Birst to improve the product line in the areas of white labeling, predictive analytics and deeper report functionality.
The ability to scale was the primary factor for our CIO's approval. The other products had solutions for scale, but Birst has the one we preferred. As an IoT company our CIO concentrates on products that will meet our requirements today and far into the future. The other products certainly have their place, but Birst fit Apex.
Birst's strength is connectivity. It's abiltiy to connect to multiple data sources ad handle data complexity was a major reason Apex chose to partner with Birst. The back-end data aggregation and predictive capabilities along with the platform support makes Birst a great choice.

Since purchase Apex has been able to connect to a variety of data sources to incorporate data into the Birst universe. This makes standard and customer report delivery easier to build and manage.

Cannot say enough about the responsiveness of Birst Support. Our work with Birst is primarily pushing the tool to the limits and Birst Support has always been there for direction, research and recommendations.
As an OEM customer Apex uses Birst to deliver our BI solutions globally. Birst has the legs to get the job done on scale with a flexible UI/UX and multi-language capabilities.

Birst Support has been outstanding to work with as we tackle OEM projects new to both our company and Birst. Work arounds and enhancements have assisted Apex in pushing out a high quality branded product to thousands of customer.

Birst's Direct Connect product provides for real-time reporting; which is a nice add on to the DWH based BI. Support of embedded reporting and SSO makes Birst easier to integrate and support.

The addition of Mobile delivered BI to our Customers in an entirely new way - anywhere anytime.

We are very satisfied with how well Birst has preformed and look forward what is to come in 2018.

Birst Feature Ratings

Pixel Perfect reports
9
Customizable dashboards
10
Report Formatting Templates
Not Rated
Drill-down analysis
9
Formatting capabilities
9
Integration with R or other statistical packages
10
Report sharing and collaboration
10
Publish to Web
10
Publish to PDF
10
Report Delivery Scheduling
10
Pre-built visualization formats (heatmaps, scatter plots etc.)
9
Location Analytics / Geographic Visualization
9
Predictive Analytics
6
Multi-User Support (named login)
10
Role-Based Security Model
9
Multiple Access Permission Levels (Create, Read, Delete)
9
Responsive Design for Web Access
9
Dedicated iOS Application
10
Dedicated Android Application
10
Dashboard / Report / Visualization Interactivity on Mobile
8

Using Birst

Users and Roles

100 - Birst serves two separate audiences:

Out internal Users include Support, Implementation and Training, Sales, Marketing and Manufacturing.

Our external audiences encompass thousands of Customers across three product lines and dozens of market verticals.

A common UI/UX is utilized to simplify understanding for both audiences as they use actionable data to solve real world problems, communicate on product issues and manage their daily business directions.

Support Headcount Required

4 - In-house the Apex BI staff includes:
- Sr Data Architect: Responsible for data warehouse design, ETL processing, space scripting and growth of Birst connectivity to new internal and external data sources.
- BI Developer (2): Responsible for dashboard and report management/development, request tracking and prioritization and space management.
- DevOps (1): Managing Birst appliance upgrades (both OS and Birst upgrades), alert monitors and all aspects of Birst appliances on three continents.

Future Planned Uses

  • As Birst develops Predictive Analytics Apex intends to utilize this feature for predictive models across our product lines.
  • Inclusion of D3 work into dashboards to compliment Birst reports.
  • Embedding Birst for operational reporting into our IoT database.

Business Processes Supported

  • Delivery of actionable BI to our Customer base across our primary product lines; Dispensing, Asset Management and Retail.
  • Internal use of BI applications in Support, Implementation and Training and Manufacturing to assist customers and monitor internal operations.
  • Provides Sales with an easy to use easy to demo product demonstrating how our products deliver on our promised ROI through easily accessible actionable data.

Innovative Uses

  • We have embedded online documentation, with detailed examples, into our dashboards using Birst's mulit-lingual capabilities.
  • Birst Mobile was easy to implement and did not require the purchase of an MDM for release.
  • Dashboards build in our Lenz (Birst) applications are used for video display boards on our demonstration hardware.

Evaluating Birst and Competitors

Products Replaced

Yes - Sisense was used for initial prototyping, but was not used to produce a released product. It was a very capable product, but took considerable time to create and manage.

Birst's automated creation of the data warehouse tables coupled with white labeling and mobile beat Sisense in 2016. We've not looked at an alternative product since then.

Key Differentiators

  • Price
  • Product Features
  • Product Usability
  • Analyst Reports
Product Features and Product Usability were our top item. These two were viewed as a single item as we wanted a specific set of capabilities coupled with a UI/UX delivering complex data in a easy to use and understand interface. Many of the products we reviewed provided one or the other, but Birst stood out as the best for our requirements. I would add that white labeling was also a factor as we wanted to use the tool for both stand alone BI and embedded operational reporting.

Evaluation Lessons Learned

The process was multi-layered and included various user groups within our corporate organization. We challenged vendors to provide detailed answers/examples on our RFI followed by deep dive demos and trial periods. I don't know that we would change much about the process other than add in new requirements as the BI world has changed a great deal in the past twenty-four months.

Birst Support

Support

9
Birst Support has been some of the best I've experienced in thirty years of working in IT. Starting with the Birst Community forum through the Support Team Birst has be very responsive to our needs. On one occasion, as we were first implementing Birst, we got stuck configuring an appliance. This occurred late in the day and when contacting Support we were directed to a representative who worked with us for over two hours. He helped us understand what needed to be done and then stayed with us while we were completing the configuration. Kudos to Birst for having Support Reps who know what they are doing and care about their customers.

Birst Customer Support Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Quick Resolution
Good followup
Knowledgeable team
Problems get solved
Kept well informed
No escalation required
Immediate help available
Support understands my problem
Support cares about my success
Quick Initial Response
None

Bug Resolution

Yes - Yes, we've found a few. Thankfully the Birst Community is extremely active passing along findings and work arounds. Birst engineering, even the CTO, posts to the Community answering questions or providing best practice advice.

Birst Support has been responsive delivering timely assistance and taking responsibility for bugs. In some instances they can provide a work around and in others they write up a case for Product Management. Most of our bugs are addressed in the next dot release, which come out every ten to twelve weeks.

Exceptional Examples of Birst Support

This is sort of cheating from an earlier question, but when we were new on Birst, configuring one of our first appliances, we ran into an issue that stopped us dead in our tracks. We tried everything we could think of and finally resorted to contacting Birst Support.

I don't know if the Rep felt sorry for us or not, but after a few questions and a look at our appliance he explained what we needed to do to resolve the issue. Again, being new, we must have sounded a bit lost, so he hung in there with use for two hours so we could get the appliance live for the next day.

I was impressed with the knowledge level and the customer service shown to us by Birst that evening. 90% of the time I'd say the same about Birst Support. Better than support I've received from dozens of other software companies.

Using Birst

Usability Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Like to use
Relatively simple
Easy to use
Well integrated
Consistent
Quick to learn
Convenient
Feel confident using
Familiar
None

Easy Tasks

  • Creation of colorful interactive Dashboards that engage the user while presenting a simple story of complex data subjects.
  • Use of the Visualize report builder is easy to learn and implement. It provides an excellent feature set for our requirements.
  • The build of Birst Mobile apps is very straight forward. We were able to complete a PoC in under two weeks. Birst provides Mobile app management eliminating our need to manage an MDM.

Difficult Tasks

  • Some might find the use of variables to control languages cumbersome if they are not familiar with reporting against Birst. In our case we worked with Birst for a year before implementing languages, so we knew what would be required to complete the process.
  • We would to see more reporting types (charts, graphs, etc.) as Birst should be expanding in this area. If you have used Tableau the visuals in Birst won't be as extensive.
  • Management of spaces, in particular copying spaces, has a few bugs. This makes space management partly automated and partly manual. Significant time must be spent on QA to ensure the new space is fully functional.

Mobile Interface Availability and Impressions

Yes - We were able to complete a Birst Mobile PoC in two weeks. Birst's Mobile Team is excellent to work with and aided our efforts with recommendations and examples. To create our Mobile BI we used the standard Visualizer tool and built out our application with a smaller form factor in mind. We also learned usage on a Mobile platform is far less detail oriented. Internal and External staff look more and search less on a Mobile platform. Birst may be unique in its approach of providing/managing and MDM for our use. This allow for fast development and testing without the hassle of MDM management.