Here's an interesting concept to consider: If 80 percent of the data your enterprise is using was created in the past year, it means your enterprise is created four times more data in the past year than in its entire history before then.

That’s pretty good, right? Sure it is ... but only if you can get useful business insights from that data.

So how do you do that? Southard Jones, vice president of product strategy at Birst, is unambiguous about it. You need to focus on the business user, he said.

Judging by its position in this year’s Gartner Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence as a borderline Challenger — Leader and  its position as a Leader in Nucleus’ market survey of business intelligence, Birst is doing just that and gaining some impressive market traction in the process.

It’s not that there aren’t other vendors doing the same. But Birst has been really pushing out the boat over the past year or so, as well as nailing down some interesting partnerships with the likes of Salesforce and Marketo.

Last month, it announced it had extended its partnership with NetSuite. The deal: it offered a free express edition of Birst Cloud BI to NetSuite users, which will be embedded in the main NetSuite interface. The offer created a bit of a stir and drew a lot of attention.

To find out what this is all about and what Birst is doing, we turned to Jones. We asked him about the business intelligence market generally — and how Birst, as a smaller, agile vendor, is surviving in a market dominated by a handful of BI gorillas.

Birst  Analtyics Sales Pipeline.jpg

Birst Analtyics Sales Pipeline

Jones explained that the "free" edition runs Google-like searches, which will throw up useful recommendations and insights based on data available through NetSuite. It’s not just BI analytics. Its agile and business user-friendly analytics that enables enterprise workers get the insights they need to carry out daily tasks.

However, this is more than just some kind of groovy love-in with NetSuite. It’s part of Birst’s ongoing drive to expand its reach across the entire enterprise.

BI Market Moves

A recent Gartner report, Market Share Analysis: Business Intelligence and Analytics Software, 2013 showed spending on BI is falling off. It also showed that at least half of the action in the BI space was controlled by smaller vendors, like Birst. In fact, according to Gartner’s Dan Sommer, the market is at a tipping point.

As the market shifts gear, we see a series of tipping points in 2014 that will accelerate adoption, but it may come from a different place. These tipping points are that half of BI and analytics spending will be business driven, half of new license spending will be driven by data discovery requirements, and half of organizations will consider deploying BI in the cloud, at least tactically.”

Gartner added that other, smaller vendors that offer analytics to manage the explosion of new information sources have been getting a lot of attention and experienced considerable growth over the past year, even if they created a smaller market footprint individually.

This was confirmed by February’s Magic Quadrant for BI, which showed Birst as one of the only two vendors in the Challengers that have moved close enough to the Leaders’ quadrant to eliminate most of the differences between them and the BI giants.

The progress it has been making in the market was confirmed only last week when it took the highest ranking in the Emerging Business Intelligence Vendor in the 2014 Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study.

Birst channel marketing.jpg

Birst channel marketing

Data Access

But what’s Jones' take on all this? The core issue, he said, is data access as quickly and as easily as possible. However, data is not an end in itself and if the initial objective is to provide data access, the ultimate goal is to offer users business insights from that data. However, the kind of people that are looking for those insights is changing. He explained: