Birst Networked approach to BI and Analytics enables a single view of data, eliminating data silos. 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.
Birst achieves Networked BI through a unique 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 world-class 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, or embedded, for all size companies who offer data (analytics) products, by embedding and white-labeling Birst capabilities into their products.
Birst provides business users with a faster and easier way to conduct ad-hoc analysis, create pixel-perfect reports and visualize their data in highly interactive dashboards. With Birst’s modern, Web 2.0-style interface and automated default reports and dashboards, even the most casual users are immediately empowered to generate reports and build queries on their own.
It may seem like we don't like the tool, but it is very good. The cons are mostly pain felt by the developers. End users will not notice an issue. Make sure you know that your end users will not be able to create any complex reports easily. BQL is very useful but there is no way a non-Developer will be able to just pick it up and go. A lot of these issues may be resolved in 2018...especially the egregious use of the defunct Flash technology.
The tool does so many things that we use it exclusively to do everything from data modelling, report creation , security, dashboards, etc. And you cannot overstate the importance of their terrific customer support - especially the Birst Community. So the Cons is a long list of relatively minor quibbles. yur developers will grumble, but overall, it is an excellent tool.
Dragging and dropping reports are easy - provided the requirements are easy. Star and Snowflake, import data or Live connect. There are easy ways and more complex ways to process data. Fantastic support and community. BQL (Think Birst Metadata SQL) is flexible and powerful. API is easy to use and can write scripts to automate common functions.
Troubleshooting Reports is made easier by a part of the Admin tool that lets you see the BQL and resulting SQL query. You can find the problems very easy.
This list is long, but not everything is a big problem, more an annoyance that makes what should be easy/common things difficult.
1. Copy/Paste of Objects is impossible. Imagine your dashboard, you create a button, get the shape exactly as you like it, set the shadow just right and are ready to use it. Now you need 5 more just like it. Unfortunately, you can't use Copy/Paste...you have to build EVERY object by hand from scratch. They do not allow you to pull the XML and do the copy/paste that way. It's not just the buttons, it is everything. It makes development take many times longer than it needs to be.
2. Dashboards can be copied, but it will not also copy the embedded reports. You need to make copies of the reports separately and then manually associate them with the copied Dashboard. Again, this copy/paste is BASIC functionality simply not available in Birst.
3. They still use FLASH for the Admin screens - this includes the data model. Also, only one person can be in the admin tool at a time. If you need to make changes to the data model and do some work on user security and add some custom subject areas, you need to make 3 copies of the space and so the work separately, then use the commands like the one below in order to copy your work to another space. It is not intuitive and it is easy to use the wrong variable and overwrite all the work someone else was doing.
copyspace 7e32c981-9c92-4ee7-9a3b-a396017a531f 3cfbdcfe-6675-4b24-8e72-ef930c799e90 copy spacesettings.xml;settings-basic;settings-membership;settings-permissions;color-palettes;custom-subject-areas;SavedExpressions.xml;DrillMaps.xml;dashboardstyles;connectors
4. Some admin functions are incompatible with each other, but there is no way to know that outside of breaking your environment and then being told not to do that in the future. There is no way a casual user can use the Admin tool. It takes extensive training. For instance, you cant use the GUI Data Model (Data Flow) creator and refine it with the "Manage Sources" admin screen. That will break the space without throwing an error. You have to use the "Manage Local Sources" screen when using the Data Flow GUI. It can get very confusing especially for new users.
5. Sometimes you can pinpoint a HEX Color, in other cases, you have only a choice between 5 predetermined colors. Sometimes you have a choice of 5 fonts, in others you only have an opportunity to make the predetermined font larger or smaller. Most times, your options are so limited, it is better to turn the function off.
6. To go along with 5, you do have the option to use Designer that gives you a pixel perfect layout, but it still has significant limitations and requires extensive training.
7. If you have requirements for ADA approved readability, you will not be able to have nice looking reports because the fonts are Small/Med/Large and everything will have scrollbars, etc.
Birst is a suitable tool to review data without implementing the data in a data warehouse. it is possible to establish real-time connections to several databases or do the modeling directly in Birst. In some situations, you can see that the tool is still in its infancy but the support always finds a solution, however, it looks likes (as long as the source of interruption is critical to your business).
In my opinion, the admin area (modeling) is the least developed area compared to the visualization frontend and still runs (until Birst 6) on the flash basis with sometimes causes synchronization errors between the database and the front-end.
You can do modeling as you like with some limitations in the schemas. Birst can process star and snowflakes but has some problems with multi-fact tables and different aggregation levels in one table (data mart design. in Cognos they call this feature "Determinants").
Nevertheless, it is easy for anyone with a little modeling knows how to build a simple model and report their data. A person who does not anything about SQL or data would have a lot of troubles with modeling which isn't a disadvantage in my opinion but should be noticed.
Birst is pretty limited when it comes to "security" in different ways:
You can set a data security on row level and assign user groups or variables to it but it's pretty complicated for nondatabase developers or architects. our analysts (who do some modeling) had a hard time understanding the security until this task was assigned to us architects. This should be made simpler for every third-class technician to understand.
You are able to grant a user access to the admin area or deny it. you cannot grant access to just some features like upload images and add users. In my opinion, this a limitation and always requires a space admin to do stuff that a normal visualizer can't do.
If you want a user to import images or something then he must have space admin permissions and therefore he can make changed on the model which contradicts to a row level security if set.
The user management really is limited. you're missing a lot of creation/deletion functions and you must always access a space command window to do so. therefore you have troubles to mass create/delete users without using the API. You have to do a lot of extra work to manage your users efficiently.
The frontend is pretty good and you can do a lot of visualizations. You can choose between simple charts from "visualizer" or build pixel perfect reports from "designer". You can add both report types to a selection of dashboards.
Dashboards can be secured via user groups but only for space admins which always involves a space admin a slightly contradicts to a self-services solution.
All in all, Birst is an ETL and visualization tool that allows you so simply add files to your data warehouse and do some reporting. As more complex, your model becomes as more limitations you face while modeling. If you use live access connections the SQL's created are executed on the corresponding database. therefore you face fewer limitations than modeling within Birst.
we personally prefer to model with live access. Even if the tool is on some parts in its infancy the Birst community and support is pretty awesome and without this the tool wouldN't be satisfying but it exists and therefore I grant 4 of 5 starts for this tool.
Birst is a tool that is very flexible and has a UI offering that is very platform independent. They also have designed their product to follow the Kimball methodology for dimensional modeling which helps make the tool easier to understand if you are a seasoned dimensional modeler. They are visibly investing in innovations that are meeting or exceeding the needs of BI Community (Angular, iOS/Android apps, end-user data blending.) They have a very fast development team and release new functionality sometimes quicker than we expect.
Birst staff and leadership know us by our first names. They do try to build a relationship with their clients and not treat you like an accounting revenue stream. Their community is closed but very tight.
Being on the cutting edge, sometimes features don't work as advertised at first. It's usually a good thing to wait for a few maintenance releases after a new major release comes out if you have an appliance.
On the support front, they need not be so quick to recommend that you upgrade to the next release to address a defect, especially if it isn't due out for a few weeks. Sometimes it feels like rely on their community too much to help keep the ship going.
Being an application born in the cloud, there are some unpolished processes that appliance customers need to learn to get things to work from time to time.
Birst is growing and they are ramping up new staff all the time. If you don't feel you're getting the best answer to your question, you need to sometimes push them to get it.
What is unique about Birst is the way it allows customers to achieve the "Holy Grail" of BI - namely, providing both Governance and Agility in the same product. It does this in an easy to set up and use multi-tenant cloud environment, taking advantage of the use of virtual "spaces" which allow you to provide users with the right level of access to the right data, whether they are more advanced users or more casual users, whether they are located at the company HQ or in a remote location, etc. Birst calls this "Networked BI" and it is well worth looking into if you haven't yet.
Birst also is unique in the way it allows you to combine many different kinds of data sources, some in the cloud and some on-premise (if you want) into one Unified Data Model and then use that to create and populate what they call a User-Ready Data Warehouse. They use something called "Automated Data Refinement" (their own patent-pending technology) to create this data model and data warehouse for you with a minimum of effort on your part, saving you a lot of time and money, and making it much more feasible to keep the data model and data warehouse updated over time.
In terms of visualizations, Birst has a nice tool called Visualizer which is very easy to use, and a tool for more advanced users called Designer, which allows you to create pixel-perfect and very customized reports. Birst also fully supports the use of other front ends such as Tableau and Excel, which can access your many data sources using the User-Ready Data Warehouse created using Automated Data Refinement.
The company itself is easy to work with and is staffed with very knowledgeable people who are eager to help you succeed.
The online help is usually quite helpful, but there is some room for improvement in the search capability and some of the content.
Birst is user friendly whether viewed as an Administrator, Designer, or Dashboard viewer. Being an integrated end-to-end single application solution makes it easy to administer. I have seen this company grow and yet their basic foundation remains the same "our success is judged by your success", they genuinely are driven by making sure each customer is successful in their Business Intelligence solution deployments.
For a while Birst was deploying new features and functionality at too rapid of a pace. They have now created more of a strategic phased deployment cycle and it is easier to manage the testing and migration to new versions.
Contact Birst for pricing information.
Below are some frequently asked questions for Birst.
Birst offers the following pricing plans:
Pricing model: Subscription
Free Trial: Available
Contact Birst for pricing information.
Birst offers the following features:
Birst has the following typical customers:
Large Enterprises, Mid Size Business
Birst supports the following languages:
Danish, Dutch, English, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish
Birst has the following pricing plans:
Birst supports the following devices:
Android, iPhone, iPad
Birst integrates with the following applications:
Bitium, Google Analytics, Infor CloudSuite Industrial (SyteLine), MarcomCentral Enterprise, MarcomCentral Web-to-Print, Marketo, Salesforce Sales Cloud, Tableau
Birst offers the following support options:
Forum, Knowledge Base, Online Support, Phone Support, Video Tutorials