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April 26, 2017

Infor Buys Cloud Analytics Vendor Birst

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Consolidation in the business intelligence sector may be underway with this week’s acquisition of pure-play cloud analytics vendor Birst Inc. by enterprise software vendor Infor.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Infor, which has been incorporating big data analytics into its enterprise resource management (ERP) software, said the acquisition would allow it to “define the next generation of analytical applications” in the cloud. The New York-based company also said the move responds to customer requirements for an enterprise analytics layer that can be used to aggregate federated data.

Birst, which has about 260 employees, was among a growing list of business intelligence that have shifted platforms to the cloud in response to enterprise demands for easier ways to extract information from scattered data. Infor cited Birst’s cloud-based data aggregation capabilities that include a networked semantic layer used to standardize definitions across widely distributed data sources.

As the company sets its sights on competing with the likes of Oracle (NYSE: ORCL) Infor CEO Charles Phillips declared in announcing the deal: “Now is the time to converge this cloud native BI platform with the world’s first industry cloud company.”

Along with cloud-based business intelligence, Brad Peters, Birst’s chairman and chief product officer, noted the deal gives Infor access to emerging artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that are becoming standard features on analytics platforms.

The acquisition also gives Infor a well-regarded SQL-based analytics application developed by Birst from the beginning to run on multi-tenant cloud architectures. The software, which can be used on-premise or as a software services offering, stores data in column-oriented databases, such as Amazon Redshift, SAP HANA or Exasol, while users interact with the data and create visualizations using Web and mobile interfaces.

The acquisition highlights the steady shift from on-premise analytics to cloud-based big data platforms. San Francisco-based Birst is among a wave of business intelligence upstarts offering less-expensive and capable BI alternatives in the cloud.

Infor stressed that the deal also addresses the mismatch between analytics platform vendors that often do not understand business applications such as ERP and, on the other hand, applications vendors that lack platforms needed to organize and analyze enterprise data. This week’s acquisition represents “the convergence of these worlds,” Infor asserted. “Last mile industry features have met last mile analytics.”

The likely consolidation of the business intelligence market reflects stiff competition in an increasingly crowded analytics market segments. The business intelligence “market is being dominated by vendors that are focused on agility and ease of use for business users coupled with the ability to govern deployments and promote the responsible creation, distribution and use of analytic content created within the platform,” market researcher Gartner Inc. noted in its most recent rankings of business intelligence vendors.

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