San Francisco-based Birst this week unveiled new capabilities within its Networked BI (Business Intelligence) & Analytics platform to enable customers to create a digital supply chain.
In a telephone interview with EBN, Kate Delimitros, Birst’s senior director of product strategy, said the goal is to provide visibility and analytics up and down the supply chain, as well as collaboration both with internal business processes and external customers and suppliers.
The idea, said Delimitros, is to provide real-time visibility so that decision makers are able to proactively adjust to changes in supply and demand based on updates from across the ecosystem by blending information that is contributed from customers, suppliers and employees. At the same time, she said, there is still a centrally controlled and transparent plan.
Delimitros said Birst’s extranet and external data blending capabilities are essential for perform multi-source analysis across varying data sources in a modern supply chain so that all parties can share forecasts, anticipate changes, and plan for scenarios. Being able to automate difficult aspects of business intelligence and making insights accessible to everyday business users is also critical, she said. “Analytics are only as valuable as the problem they are solving.”
Early BI vendors were good at extracting data in on-premise, centralized environment to deliver reports on an enterprise scale, said Delimitros, but it was a rigid process as it took time to get those reports as business users had to provide specialists with their requirements. As the report requirements changed, so would the system architecture to generate the needed reports. "It was very challenging."
Over time, tools at the other spectrum were developed to address the average business user, but these tended to be siloed within departments that each had their own set of Excel spreadsheets. Delimitros said cloud architectures allow Birst to follow the tradition of early BI vendors with respect to centralized governance, while providing a single networked view of data. Birst automatically aggregates data from multiple sources, and refines and models it, so all the information can be seen in one place, no matter how complex the supply chain. “All of the back end pieces are integrated and harmonious.”
Delimitros said Birst’s extranet capabilities enable integration with external suppliers and customers, so that manufacturers can fine tune their forecasts in alignment with constituents, while protecting access to secured data. The company’s customer roster includes Citrix, whose business has become heavily commoditized. It has been able to share data with suppliers for better forecasting and cut costs in the process.
Citrix chose Birst because it needed to rapidly aggregate data across hundreds of disparate systems and provide unique analysis to each node in the supply chain, said Delimitros. The company has 130,000 global dispersed customers, 120 suppliers, a three-month product lifecycle, and delivery lead times less than two days. Now executives have a unified dashboard that can be refreshed as often as every seven minutes, she said.