Birst and Blue Hill Research webinar misses the message

There’s only one time to break the marketing rule to never mention your competition: When you’re behind. Avis mentioned Hertz, not the other way around. Of course, its “We’re Number 2, We Try Harder” campaign ran for years and never significantly increased market share, but it was still a reasonable attempt. If someone in the market automatically thinks about a bigger vendor, you want them to at least consider you.

That must have been the reasoning behind today’s Birst webinar comparing itself and Tableau. The problem was the presentation didn’t fit the title.

The first part of the presentation was by James Haight of Blue Hill Research. He did discussed, at a very high level, a report issued and available on Birst’s site. The critical take-away was that slight differences between visualization capabilities is not something that is on the critical decision path. What matters is the back end access and integration of multiple sources that drive the need for BI in the first place. That’s clearly important to enterprises considering modern business intelligence systems.

The problem with the webinar is that the Birst section didn’t support that message or show why the firm’s solution was any different than Tableau’s. The first part of the Birst segment was by a guy who needed to slow down and take a few more breathes. He talked the theory of why Birst designed their product with an emphasis on the backend but the slides really didn’t support it.

As for “disentangling discovery and BI,” the only thing that was said was that discovery is a subset of BI, something that many analysts (including yours truly) have said and which keeps the two tangled.

The demo? Given the key point from the Blue Hill Research paper and the mild setup, I would have expected to see a focus on how heterogeneous sources are meshed. Instead, I saw the typical fly-by of how swoopy-doopy the visualization is. At the very end, there was a quick shot and less than a minute on what seems to be a wizard to start the data integration process.

I’ve blogged before about Birst, and they seem good. However, with many small companies they don’t seem to be able to create a consistent and coherent message. If the intent was just about getting people to think Birst when they think Tableau, it should have been a higher level presentation. Given the title and lead-in, it should have been a deeper dive. Instead, it picked a middle ground that really didn’t clarify anything.

I’m not sure the presentation did anything to help make Birst stick in the minds of people considering Tableau.

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