In a couple of weeks, around 150,000 people will converge on San Francisco for DreamForce, Salesforce's annual customer conference and extravaganza (disclosure - Salesforce is covering my travel and expenses to attend the event). Last year, Salesforce introduced a lightweight analytics product that many people pointed out was more of a visualization tool than anything else.
Most commentators expect some big announcements from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff this year about Wave, the company's analytics platform. So competitor (and, confusingly, partner) Birst is getting ahead of the march and announcing some news of its own before the event.
Birst is launching what it calls "Networked BI." The idea of the product is to resolve the problems created by traditional approaches to analytics. Under old models, organizations have depended on centralized IT to physically replicate data and metadata infrastructures to enable analytics for decentralized groups. This approach is time-consuming, expensive, and, ultimately, a barrier to end-user self service. The creation of big, heavy, and inflexible data warehouses is something of an old-world solution to a new world problem. It also doesn't really reflect the operation realities of modern organizations which have decentralized teams that need quick and easy access to data.
What Birst is delivering is an approach that virtualizes the entire BI ecosystem by creating a network of interwoven BI instances that share a common analytical fabric. Leveraging Birst's existing multi-tenant cloud, the new approach, according to Birst, enables organizations to expand the use of BI across multiple regions, departments, and customers in a more agile way. Think faster and easier analytics, while still demonstrating the robustness and scalability that enterprises demand.
This is important given the structural changes in enterprise IT. Indeed, analyst firm Gartner estimates that, through 2016, less than 10% of self-service BI initiatives will be governed sufficiently to prevent inconsistencies that adversely affect business. BI products need to navigate a path between ease of use and governance, and Birst believes that most have foregone some solidity to make things easier to use.
“At Reckitt Benckiser, we oversee global operations, across all continents, while maintaining the consistency of one company — and a BI standard that delivers agility without sacrificing governance is crucial to achieving that consistency,” said Wilmer Peres, Head of BI and Analytics, Reckitt Benckiser. “Because of Birst’s virtual BI technology, which eliminates data silos and ensures consistency and control, this is the first analytics implementation with the performance and data breadth that will drive universal adoption.”
This looks like an interesting product announcement and will certainly gain some attention in the run up to DreamForce, what Salesforce has up its sleeve, and what impact that will have upon Birst, will be seen in a couple of weeks.
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