• October 1, 2008
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

On-Demand Analytics Birsts Upon the Scene

Business intelligence (BI) vendor Success Metrics on Tuesday released Birst, an automated software-as-a-service (SaaS) BI application. Company executives say that Birst's automation, scalability, and speed of deployment are an extension of a recent trend in the BI space to provide analytics power to users throughout an organization, as opposed to a few executives and business analysts.

The basic version of Birst is available free of charge, requiring only an account registration, and puts basic functionality -- up to five members, 10 MB of account storage, unlimited workspaces, and all the usual charts -- into users' hands. "I see this approach a lot," says Denis Pombriant, founder and managing principal at CRM consultancy Beagle Research Group. "Companies do it either because their product is so new that people don't understand it and won't pay, or because the market is saturated and they have to make adoption frictionless. I suspect this case is more of the latter."

Beyond the free service are three tiers of subscriptions, each adding features:

  • Basic—$99/month; 10 members; 25 MB account; administrator mode; advanced charts
  • Professional—$199/month; 20 members; 100 MB account; cataloguing; role-based dashboards and reports; group management
  • Groups and Enterprise—Pricing is based on custom service options including dedicated support, data aggregation, consulting services, and much more capacity for data and users.

Success Metrics executives claim that Birst handles any type of data, including finance, operations, marketing, customer service, and sales information. The software also accepts columnar data held in .csv formats, Access databases, or Excel files. This helps make the offering useful to small businesses and even individuals, regardless of their job functions. "One of the things about on-demand BI, and BI in general, is that it tends to focus pretty narrowly on the sales department," Pombriant says. "There are lots of other places in the organization where analytics is important."

Success Metrics notes in its product literature that Birst has partnerships with RightNow Technologies and with Redtail, an on-demand CRM system for brokerage firms. Pombriant notes that, in addition to Redtail, there are also Birst integrations for the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. "These aren't your typical verticals; most BI companies start out with a very horizontal offering," he says. There are anecdotal reports of Birst users integrating with Salesforce.com as well, and it's expected that Birst will continue to seek partnerships.

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

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