What do you like best?
Birst can automatically create a data warehouse (DW) for your business if you just connect it to the right data sources. Most customers will use it entirely in the cloud and will use their automatic DW solution. For complex data situations, like ours, it can be used more traditionally, designing the DW manually and hosting the application internally on our own servers. The DW schema can be specified manually and then Birst will create the necessary ETL automatically to create that schema from the given data sources. And it can connect to all kinds of sources, both in-house and in the cloud. Once the DW is there, Birst has great tools for creating dashboards and reports, or for letting end users play with the data and create visualizations of their own. It really does do it all and can put together an end-to-end solution much faster than any other BI product I've ever seen.
What do you dislike?
Birst has some quirks that can be annoying. Their naming of certain things is not standard and it can create confusion in both conversations and in learning how to use it. For example, what Birst calls Hierarchies would be called Dimensions by pretty much any other solution. And it doesn't necessarily have to be a hierarchy, so it creates confusion. Also, although a solution can be created quite quickly, there is likely to still be a significant amount of work needed to tweak the model to get the best performance, so the solution it creates isn't necessarily the end of the effort, it may really be the beginning. The querying language used is not traditional SQL. In many cases this query language will never need to be used directly at all - Birst automatically creates it wherever it's needed. But for performance optimization in their non-automatic DW schemas, and behind the scenes in customized objects, it needs to be used - and it's a challenge. Their implementation consultants have been fantastic, but their support group definitely needs improvement.
Recommendations to others considering the product
Every two weeks (I think?) Birst releases improvements to their products. Every single patch that comes out has included significant improvements. This is a product that is moving in the right direction very, very quickly, and is VERY responsive to customer suggestions.
What business problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized?
We are currently rolling out Birst as a part of our SAAS application in order to provide dashboards for our clients based on their data in our application. Our data set is HR data. It will provide us with a platform for rolling out useful dashboards to our customers that are informative and eye-catching. It is an impressive tool for our sales group to showcase when demonstrating our products' value to potential customers.