Looking Back At Birst Forward 2017

Several of the Peak Indicators team were down at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London this week, for Birst Forward EMEA. The famous London-based venue played home to the event, which took place over two packed days.  

Birst Forward brings together partners of the company for networking; as well as the sharing of innovations, customer stories and expert discussions. It enables attendees to advance their Birst expertise and share best practices.

This year, it was particularly evident how Birst partners and clients are all working together to build a strong community. Through sharing success and learnings, all parties are able to grow alongside new product releases. This is ultimately leading to companies becoming more data-driven in their decisions.

A Busy First Day

Things got underway with a keynote from Brad Peters, the original founder of Birst. Following their takeover by Infor, Brad now holds the role of SVP and GM Analytics and Business Intelligence with the Infor team.  He was welcomed with a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ from the attendees.

The agenda for the first day was a busy one. Insights into AI were a key theme, as well as connected data preparation within Pronto. The latter revolved around bringing ‘edge’ data in with trust to further break down organisational silos.

There was also a case study from Kojo at Arriva, which offered a client-side perspective of the Birst journey. It was explained how cloud technology was really shaping their strategy. Through moving to Birst, the client has been able to leverage the power of the software and challenge their historical delivery of analytics.

The Importance of Looking More Deeply Into Data Trends

Later in the day, Dr. Hannah Fry gave a humorous and interesting talk based around how you can get side-tracked as a result of making assumptions in your data. This really reinforced that providing the right analytical insights is crucial to how successful organisations ultimately are.

Hannah also covered how what you think you see in certain trends is not always the actual truth. Once you get down to the level of root causation, it becomes clear how important interactive user dashboards are. They provide the means to drill into the details required to achieve ultimate success.

There were plenty of other interesting topics covered throughout the day, which was rounded off by a fabulous evening. This included drinks in the museum, views of the Ashes Urn and dinner in the ‘Long Room’. Proceedings were further enhanced by Chesterfield celebrity Geoff Miller, who spent time sharing his cricketing memoirs.

72,000 Hours of Coding

During the second day, there were several ‘roadmap’ sessions, which covered topics including Connected Self-Service, Smart Automation, Next Generation Enterprise and Infor Integration. During the sessions, it was highlighted that there had been 23 product releases this year, as well as the launch of 228 new features. This equated to around 72,000 hours of coding alone.

Another key part of the day was a well-themed demo revolving around the use of T20 match data. This showcased the latest developments within Birst, including enhanced filtering from within the dashboard. Through more interactive consumption, users have the ability to drill through the data in multiple directions. 

Changes like this have been designed to make advanced regression analysis easier. The demo also covered automated clustering and market analysis conducted as a result of being driven by machine learning algorithms.

Backend Developments 

There were also several key backend developments with Birst highlighted during the event: 

  • Being able to add SQL data sources, name files, connect to R Server, browse folder structures, review and amend labels and customise groups to give light master data capabilities.
  • Administrators now being able to use the ‘super admin’ console to handle all SSO integration in once place. In addition, user management can also be controlled in one place.
  • The addition of a new Search BI capability within Birst, which uses natural language query. This will come in future releases.

In addition, it was interesting to hear that BI adoption rates with traditional vendors sat at around 25%. With data discovery vendors, this figure fell to 21%. Birst is really aiming to lower the barrier for entry so that business users do not feel the software is exclusive to those with specialist skills.

Things were wrapped up with the news of Infor’s plans to embed Birst into a number of their products.

All-in-all, a great couple of days.


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