Birst Bolsters Predictive Analytics for Sales

Business analytics provider Birst has released an updated version of its Birst for Sales Analytics solution, signifying a move to put deeper predictive modeling into the hands of business users.

Birst focuses on making sense of the mound of structured data housed in CRM and ERP applications and databases like Salesforce.com, NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics, SugarCRM, Siebel, and SAP. This data, according to Birst cofounder and CEO Brad Peters, is transaction-based and less rooted in analysis. What Birst for Sales Analytics seeks to do is "put something in front of a sales rep from a reasonably sized division of a company that's going to tell him, 'Out of 4,000 customers, these are the deals most likely to close and this is what you should be talking to them about.'"

Predictive analysis of the sales process can drive sales performance and a more accurate pipeline forecast, the company claims. Independent research consultancy CSO Insights has found that 71 percent of companies expect high-volume data, or big data, to significantly impact their sales. It also found the average sales rep can rely on data and information from up to 15 internal and external sources.

Though the definition of big data reaches beyond the data housed in a structured system, Peters says his company's focal point is not the unstructured set, such as that recorded in social media channels. Instead, he says, "we're going after the stuff like, 'What did people buy?' 'How much did they buy?' 'What are buyers' characteristics and attributes?'"

Standard sales force automation tools provide the reporting capabilities sales teams need, but Peters says Birst customers are asking for ways to combine their Salesforce.com data with the data from their commerce platforms to turn contact history and orders and transaction data into insights that can impact the sales process. Specific to Salesforce.com users, the latest update has an integration with collaboration tool Chatter, as well as a VisualForce framework to embed graphics and reports directly into Salesforce.com Opportunity and Account screens.

Birst, which raised $26 million in funding from Sequoia Capital this May, according to AllThingsD, has experienced the most traction in growing lines of business in large companies and within growing midsize organizations, Peters says. Heaviest adoption, so far, has been from technology companies, ecommerce, and financial services.

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