San Francisco-based Birst has upgraded its Networked BI platform that it introduced last September, adding more features for collaboration as well as tools to assist in the data prep.

The company has also introduced Birst Mobile for Android, giving users access to the platform from their laptops or mobile device.

Admittedly, Networked BI is a marketing construct for a product by Birst, with many elements familiar to tech users. For instance, Chief Product Officer Brad Peters describes it as a "personal sandbox" for business users that allows them to stay connected to the enterprise.

That said, this approach to business-intelligence-as-a-service is sophisticated and offers some unique capabilities.

The Original Iteration

As the same suggests, Networked BI is the virtualization of business intelligence and its related ecosystem of analytics, application development lifecycles all the way to how it is leveraged by end users (think data mashups and content).

The cloud framework on which it is offered creates, as Birst describes it, a "network of interwoven BI instances". These instances share a common analytical fabric connecting the raw data, the data warehouses and the analytics.

This analytical fabric is what employees work with, inputting local data or conditions to create marketing strategies, for example, or to adjust for change to a local sales forecast.

These instances are virtual, so the data isn’t changed at its source.

That is what Birst rolled out in September.

Now the company has upgraded it with more tools for these employees to more easily prep the data for analysis and to collaborate with one another as they work on these projects.

"Basically, we are doubling down on Networked BI with this release," Southard Jones, VP of Product Strategy at Birst told CMSWire.

Speedier Data Prep 

Birst included data prep tools in its original rollout, and enhanced them in its second version. Now users can pivot or un-pivot data, or split columns for instance.

"Some of these capabilities are now automatic," Jones said. "Some things can’t be automated because there is context in data that might require manual input or configuration."  Sometimes, he said, Birst can do the data prep for complicated issues.

Better Collaboration

There are more collaboration tools in this version as well. Birst has added in-context discussion threads to the platform, similar to social media discussion feeds.

Birst's discussion threads can capture the data in question, both in its original form and any changes that have been made.  "That is not something you will see with generic internal social media-type collaboration platforms," Jones said.