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Analysis

MicroStrategy
David Norris By: David Norris, Practice Leader - Analytics, Bloor Research
Published: 21st February 2012
Copyright Bloor Research © 2012
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I have been a long time admirer of the technology that MicroStrategy offer. I have not always been an outright admirer of them as a company to do business with. Whilst the technology has always been amongst the best available - comprehensive, integrated functional, performant and capable - it has come at a price that is at the top end. That does not mean it has not offered good value for money, it is, after all, a true enterprise level solution. But added to the price was a perception that you almost had to qualify to be considered good enough to be a customer of theirs!. So they did not always come across as the easiest to do business with. When you are considering paying top dollar, that has made several companies I have dealt with drop them from consideration even when they should have been on the list. However, things are always changing and I love the technology so I was very happy to meet with them. They continue to have a market-leading offering, and I am now happy to let you know they give the impression of really wanting to work with partners and customers; they are very much more open than before.

MicroStrategy have built their technical reputation on a stack that has been built in-house, rather than assembled from bought-in modules with just a common GUI stitched on top. They have offered a full suite from reports, dashboards and scorecards, OLAP analysis, advanced analytics, to alerts and messaging. To that list they are now adding the essential elements of mobility and big data support, not just in making things available on Hadoop clusters but, more importantly, to the vast majority of us by extending into Social Media analysis, most specifically with interfaces to Facebook. This is vital, as the F-commerce market is fast emerging as the most vital market available at present. Whilst ecommerce is bogged down with permissions and how to separate the wheat from the chaff, the F-Commerce market is self selecting. By subscribing to a Facebook page the users are already telling you "we are interested and have a propensity to buy - just get me the right product, at the right price, at the right time!"

Mobility is another vital element. The iPad seems to be an essential tool for every manager, and they expect to have the information they demand, at their finger tips, rapidly, reliably and accessibly. MicroStategy have a mobile solution that supports not just the Apple family, but also those from RIM ad Android, and they certainly provide functional, fast and usable access to data, so that is a big tick in the box.

Social Media analysis is one that will grow and transform our ideas about CRM. Today CRM is just a cheap way to get customer queries addressed, and a crude way to try to cross and up sell. I believe that, through the use of mobility, especially location based data, and social media to provide real individualised insight, we have a way to return to the original concept of CRM. This means transforming the relationship between consumer and provider to one based on mutual benefit and which provides the consumer with benefit from timely and contextually appropriate content. It also offers the provider greatly enhanced loyalty and profitability. Again I would have to say that the MicroStrategy solution has to be commended, as a simple, elegant, functional response that addresses the crux of what is required.

There is much talk today about Agile BI, which I take to mean affordable, ubiquitous, adaptable, and highly intuitive BI. This has led to the rapid rise of line of thought and visual solutions; the most commonly cited being the likes of Qlikview, Tableau and Spotfire. These are all solutions that I have a great deal of time for, but I do recognise that, at present, they are really departmental rather than enterprise level solutions. I wonder how much they will cost once they have to cope with the demands of an enterprise-wide semantic layer to integrate heterogeneous data to enable their solutions to offer what they do beyond a homogenous departmental environment. So I would still want to look at a solution that offers Enterprise-level robustness if I were after an Enterprise solution. Again, MicroStrategy have a solution in Visual Insight and, although it might appear expensive when compared on a single seat basis as an enterprise solution, it offers all that can be asked of a line of thought discovery tool. It has the capability and robustness that is yet to be proven with the current market favourites and, as such, it offers a value for money solution without hidden costs.

On the issue of price, MicroStrategy will never be available at a rock bottom give away price. It is an enterprise level solution and is priced as such, so it's comparable with the likes of Oracle, IBM, SAP, SAS etc. Now, however, they are offering a means of hosting that offers transparent pricing, assured service levels, and avoidance of all unexpected costs, through the adoption of cloud-based solutions. I would have to say that if I were in the market I would have to include MicroStrategy as a serious contender.

So, to sum up, I have been convinced that when it comes to technology that offers enterprise level functionality, performance, reliability and resilience, MicroStrategy is competing with the best; and now I can add to that they come across as good people to do business with.

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