Dreamforce 2012: Firms turning to BI during recession to overcome resource issues

Birst makes Salesforce.com BI connector available for free as it talks about how analytics is benefiting from the bad times.

Dreamforce 2012

Business analytics is doing well out of the recession, thanks to more pressure than ever before to do more with less and get greater insight and value out of data.

So claims Brad Peters, CEO and founder of Birst, commenting as the company launched a free cloud-based analytics tool to help businesses make better sense of the data held in their Salesforce.com application.

"In every recession, you'll find there's an increased demand for BI. During a recession, businesses can't just hire new people. They have to make their existing people smarter," Peters told IT Pro in the run up to Salesforce.com's Dreamforce conference where the product is being officially launched.

"How do I know that this [application] is working well? If I know these things, I can improve the business process. Most business processes don't just exist in one application, they exist across multiple applications.

Dubbed Birst Express, the tool makes it easy for business users to quickly and easily view and interpret the data locked in Salesforce as well as Microsoft Access, Excel and other corporate applications and links data sets together to reduce the manual integration burden.

"This is pretty significant for us. We are essentially making a version of our application that we are giving away for free to the entire Salesforce.com community. I would argue it has the same, if not deeper, richness than any other product out there," Peters added.

"My experience has been that BI and analytics tends to follow by several years other applications Birst Express unlocks the value that is in an application. Apps store data in a unique way.

The tool also embeds Birst dashboards into Salesforce.com itself, making data visualisation and report generation even easier, according to the company.

Users can connect to any Salesforce.com object they desire in just six clicks, according to Peters. "Speed is key," he adds. "Businesses need to be able to get at the data and turn it into stuff they can visualise."

The free version comes with one author and fiver user licences and 1GB of storage. As and when companies outgrow' Birst Express, although they may move onto other paid-for versions, the upgrade process is seamless and data and historic analysis is preserved.

"This is not our only product. Once people get a taste of what they can do with data and analytics, they are going to want more," Peters said.

While BI has enjoyed a boom during the recession, its popularity is not only linked to doom and gloom times. Indeed, the future looks very bright for business analytics, Peter suggests.

"The next generation tend to make decisions based on data," he said. "They are much more accustomed to using such tools. Before they make a decision, they need to know what is going on."

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