What is Business Intelligence?
The software industry has no shortage of terms and acronyms, so before we talk about Infor’s Business Intelligence Tool (that’s called “Birst”), what is Business Intelligence (or “BI”)? Business Intelligence refers to solutions and processes that support the gathering, analysis, integration, and presentation of business information. Business Intelligence tools help companies understand their business better, and enable their employees to make better decisions because they have the information they need. At its most basic level, Business Intelligence is what is commonly referred to as “reporting”, like a bookings report, a purchase orders due for receipt report, for example. Business Intelligence solutions take reporting to the next level by making the data easier to consume for end users, easier to analyze, and easier to get answers to difficult questions.
What is Birst?
Birst is Infor’s Business Intelligence platform. It enables end users to consume data via self service options, as opposed to having to rely on information technology resources for their data needs. Birst has a user data tier that allows users to access data that is both enterprise wide as well as stored locally. Birst is deployed in a multi-tenant cloud model which allows all of the stakeholders to instantly share data with one another. Birst refers to this as “networked BI”, and it allows users to bring their own data into the cloud where it can be blended with data from other sources, normalized, and then be made available to other users.
What is an example of how Birst works?
Let’s take an example of a company that wants to get better visibility across their sales process. This company runs an ERP solution on premise, and they also use Salesforce for their CRM solution for their sales reps. It’s easy to see how this can make visibility challenging; data about customers is going to reside in Salesforce, but the orders are going to be processed in the ERP where they are also invoiced, cash is collected, etc. Birst can unify this data in a single view. By combining the data in to a single source, it’s possible to have:
- More accurate forecasting
- Better visibility of sales rep performance
- Better visibility of the sales pipeline
- Better win/loss tracking, and thus a clearer picture on what prospects to focus on
- Better visibility of opportunities
- Better visibility of other sales reps, enabling higher performance
In this scenario, without Birst, there would be a lot of resources needed to build integration between the two systems as well as a solution for governing the data, not to mention a way to push the data to end users. With Birst, the data is brought together from the disparate systems whether they are cloud based, on premise, or private cloud. The data is normalized inside of Birst, so the end users know it’s accurate. The tools needed for analyzing the data are available to end users, and once those metrics are created by users, they can share them with other users, eliminating duplicate work.
Birst is an Infor product that can be used in virtually any environment due to its flexible deployment model, and its ease of use. Birst has been highly regarded by the analyst community (Forrester and Gartner, for example), as they recognized it as a Leader in the Business Intelligence space.