Birst steps up European cloud BI business with Amazon Web Services

The Financial Times is among several new UK customers using cloud-based business intelligence from Birst

The Financial Times (FT) is using cloud-based business intelligence (BI) from Birst to make its own BI more widespread and operational.

John Kundert, head of BI delivery for the FT, said the paper is migrating its BI capability to an in-house service based on a cloud-based data warehousing system, with Birst running on top and handling its main reporting needs.

“Previously, our data analytics teams were responsible for handling all requests, but with Birst we will put more of the data in the hands of business teams directly. Day-to-day requests for reports and analytics will be fulfilled by the individuals that need them.

“This is a significant step forward for us and means data analytics teams are free to concentrate on more complicated reporting requirements, like trend analysis, which provide greater value to the entire organisation.”Birst’s CEO, Jay Larson, said the implementation vindicates the supplier’s philosophy of making BI a matter of business process improvement and metrics-driven business execution.

“Our vision is operationalising BI and pushing it out to the front line. We are big advocates of changing the model to one of disintermediation, where the report generators and consumers are the same people.”

Birst, founded in San Francisco in 2004, is stepping up its business presence in Europe, said Larson. It has launched a Europe-based public cloud offering – hosted in Ireland with Amazon Web Services (AWS) – and has revealed 16 new channel partners in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and the UK.

European customers in the past year include Reckitt Benckiser, Argus Media, Dialogue Communications, itsu and EAT, as well as the FT.

The company said it has expanded its UK team, which is based in Woking, over the past 12 months.

Larson, whose career includes senior executive roles at SuccessFactors and Jive Software, was appointed CEO in 2014, and the AWS deal is one of his first. 

“I think it is true that 2014 may be a tipping point for cloud adoption. Cloud is gathering momentum," he said.

“We needed to have an ability to host our customers in Europe – the other software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies I have worked for have all had that.

“From our perspective, the value lies in the cloud architecture. Customers like the idea that someone else is maintaining the software and providing consistent updates. Things just happen much more quickly – it’s all about speed. Traditional development cycles just don’t work with the pace of business today.”

David Gray, vice-president international at Birst, said organisations want to use the assets available to them by using the right tools to make sense of their data.

"Birst can help customers to manage, manipulate, analyse and present large volumes of data in the cloud,” he said.

Larson added: “The existing suppliers are running out of gas. Our vision of cloud business intelligence and our analytics engine, that can extract data in the cloud from any source to make it analytics ready, is getting good traction in Europe as well as North America.

“We feel that optimising business processes by pulling data from multiple places is what we do best.”

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