Business Intelligence

Birst's Mining For BI Gold

A lot has changed for Birst’s Brad Peters since he last spoke to IDG Connect, having since stepped down as CEO to let former Jive Software sales executive, Jay Larson, take the reins and move the company to the next step. “I'm a product guy,” Peters says. And having raised $38 million last year, he explains he needed a ‘go-to market guy’ who had experience scaling multiple software and PaaS companies.

But was it difficult giving up the hot seat?

“You'll have to ask me in a month or two because I’m still pretty much doing everything I was doing before. I've been wearing multiple hats for a long time, and as the company had grown you're kind of doing each thing half-well.” Part of the step back was to focus on the product. “These are not easy solutions to build, you don't just hire somebody out of Stanford engineering school and say go build a BI solution; they're going to fail.”

“You have to have lived,” he says. “I wanted to bring experience into a role, I wanted someone who's been there done that, and recognizes those plays.”

Now the switch has been made, the company is ready to get on with the mission of growing. And offering a free version to all the NetSuite customers when on-stage at SuiteWorld was just the start. He stresses, over the next 12 months Birst is going to be focused on ‘a lot of role up your sleeves grow the business kind of stuff’; partnerships, product innovation, international expansion and so on.

“I wish we could say we'll do some massive transformational thing but it's not that, it's how you get to the point where you want to become an independent go-public kind of company, there's a lot of stuff you’ve got to do.” When asked if an IPO is the ultimate goal, Peters agrees. “That's the ultimate way to own your own destiny and our goal is to be independent.”

The Future of BI

While on stage at SuiteWorld, Peters talks about ‘getting 10% better productivity instead of hiring 10% more people’. It’s an ethos he takes to heart. “Of all the technologies you can consume, BI's the single best way to improve effectiveness of the organization across the board. I can take any organization, any process, and I can make that process smarter.”

“If you're going to empower your workforce you have to give them the facts to be able to make that decision - and BI is the only way to do that. You can’t really empower your workforce without it.” Peters sees a lot of potential in the future growth of Business Intelligence.

“I think the big thing for BI now that we're getting through this cloud transformation is injecting BI directly into these business processes,” he explains. “There's been a lot of hype around Tableau and stuff like that which is great for analysts, but analysts are a very small community.”

Meanwhile the Internet of Things is yet to really show up on Peters’ radar. “It's early days. The big challenge for us right now is still conventional business data. He believes structured data is still largely underutilized in most organizations, while unstructured IoT data is more effort than is necessary at the moment.

“You can think of it like gold mining: you're going down and you strike a vein and you pluck nuggets out - that's structured data. Unstructured data's more like strip mining, you have to rip up a lot of Earth to get any value out of it. People are still figuring out what that is,” he concludes. “[But] there's a lot of gold still left in the structured data.”


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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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