Birst business intelligence analytics dashboard call center
Birst business intelligence analytics dashboard (call center)

Cloud-based business intelligence vendor Birst has announced that it has secured US$ 38 million in funding that will be used almost exclusively to expand its operations globally, particularly in Europe and Asia.

Birst’s Cloud-Based BI

In total now, it has raised US$ 84 million since it first launched its cloud-based business intelligence offering in 2009, and although it has only been around for a relatively short time has already managed to muscle its way into the Challengers Quadrant in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence this year.

To manage that in such a short period of time is quite an achievement given the criteria Gartner imposes for inclusion.

However, business intelligence, which for a long time has been an on-premises, expensive and unwieldy enterprise deployment, has huge business potential for a company that can successfully offer it as a service. Birst, it seems, has managed to do that.

Unlike many BI vendors, Birst developed its product for the cloud and not as an on-premises application which was then moved to the cloud,  when it became clear that BI in the cloud is a good business to be getting into. That said, it is also available as an on-premises appliance.

Working behind the firewall, it is accessible through a browser and combines data from all enterprise data systems to provide analysis of business problems in real time.

The results are displayed on dashboards that come with a library of interactive visualizations enabling users to create pivot tables, visualize data, and drill down into reports without having to call IT.

Birst business intelligence analytics dashboard retail.jpg

Birst business intelligence analytics dashboard (retail)

Its advantage is that it offers all the different elements of a business intelligence deployment under the same umbrella, as opposed to the traditional approach where enterprises buy different components from different vendors and try to make them all work together.

Birst’s Global Ambitions

Clearly, it is a product that is working or the company wouldn’t have been able to raise the money it has in recent times. But to make it really marketable, it needs a strong global presence and that’s what the current round of funding, led by Sequoia, will be used for.

Already, it has clawed its way into markets in Europe, Asia and the Middle East on the back of the agility offered by SaaS coupled with lower costs -- two considerations that will continue to attract interest in the cash-strapped EU in particular.

The result has been some notable customer wins across Fortune 500 companies, but also in the extremely lucrative mid-market space, which many of its competitors have overlooked.

It has also been building an extensive partner ecosystem as well as strategic alliances with the likes of Amazon, NetSuite and Marketo.

BI In The Cloud

The funding has arrived just in time. In the Magic Quadrant this year, Gartner noted that only around 33% of respondents said they would be interested in BI from the cloud.

This will clearly change as more C-level executives see the cost advantages of cloud computing and are convinced that there are no real security issues around the cloud.

However, up until now, the really big deals with the really big enterprises have been, to a large extent, secured by big vendors with companies like Birst focusing largely on departments and SMBs. Birst aims to change this in the US market, while at the same time aggressively developing its EMEA (European, Middle East, Asia) presence.