MicroStrategy: Business Intelligence for the Masses

During the recent MicroStrategy World (Amsterdam, July 2012), the company’s CEO Michael Saylor wooed us all with a passionate speech about how mobility will change the way we live and learn. And there is no question that mobility will be a major game changer for big data, business intelligence and business analytics. At the same time, the company also announced enhancements to its cloud offering and, though less controversial in its announcement, the impact will be equally important to MicroStrategy.

MicroStrategy has been rolling out its Cloud roadmap, starting with Platform services in 2011, expanding to a complete SaaS offering in 2012. The company now offers:

  • MicroStrategy Cloud Personal – a free subscription based business intelligence offering. One can upload data, analyze it and share it via mail, Facebook or other social media tools.
  • MicroStrategy Cloud Express – the newly announced MicroStrategy Cloud Express Service is the companies’ enterprise BI Cloud Solution.
  • MicroStrategy Cloud Platform – a BI platform which combines MicroStrategy BI software, analytical database and data integration software and hardware from partners. The MS cloud platform offers development capacity as well as the full range of BI reporting, sharing and accessing functionality.

Though Cloud Express is still in beta, it could well become the companies’ flagship product. While Cloud Personal has limited possibilities and visualization restrictions and Cloud Platform on the other hand offers the full monty of BI options and possibilities, Cloud Express could just be the offering the enterprise midmarket is waiting for. Cloud Express promises BI to those enterprise users, who have BI requirements but not the time, money or knowledge to deploy a full blown business intelligence solution. Cloud Express can be used on and off-premise, on a subscription basis, and users only pay for the services they use, making it suitable for small and midmarket enterprises as well as business units of large enterprises. It is possible to move from cloud to on-premise, bringing the advantage to start quickly and scale up and down easily. If data requirements become more sophisticated and require more functionality (personalized customization of data sets), users can transition to MicroStrategy’s Cloud Platform.

Moving towards an Intelligent Enterprise

At the moment we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. And 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. As an increasing amount of data is captured in the cloud, it will require cloud solutions to process, analyze and share this data.

Companies are quickly picking up on this trend and recognize the potential of data analysis in the cloud. NASDAQ was probably one of the first public companies to use the cloud to store market data, when it launched a “Data-on-Demand” service in 2010 providing investors quick access to historical data on stocks and funds, and allow clients to test their trading strategies. Closer to home are the examples of KLM (Meet & Seat) and Heineken who use social media and business intelligence to be able to respond to customer wants and needs in a timely and pro-active manner. Both for internal business processes and for external marketing initiatives, the intelligent analysis and use of data sets or textual information (Facebook, Twitter) is gaining interest. Social activity and mobile availability of data reinforce the need for data in the cloud.

Predictive analyses for the main stream.

MicroStrategy is not the first and not unique to bring its solutions to the cloud; SAP, IBM and SAS Institute all have cloud or SaaS based BI solutions. In addition there are native BI cloud providers as well. The advantage for MicroStrategy is that the company is one of the few that actually has a separate offering for the medium to large enterprise market. This gives organizations the option to:

  • Work with a well recognized, financial solid industry leader, with proven and solid performing industry solutions.
  • Easy entrance for [mobile] users with the personal cloud (instant access to personal and express cloud).
  • Easy upscale to development environment once business intelligence requirements get more sophisticated (48 hours access to platform cloud).
  • Without the upfront deployment and installation costs normally required for business intelligence solutions.

Most of the native cloud BI vendors have not (yet) been able to show solid financial results, which is a liability for midmarket enterprises that want to store and analyze sensitive data. Of the well known names in Business Intelligence (IBM, SAS, SAP, etc.), most vendors have ‘Cloudified’ or ‘SaaSified’ their existing BI offering into an on-demand option, making it mostly suitable for the existing (read high-end) customer base. MicroStrategy makes the difference with providing an option for the medium sized business and line-of-business organizations. Add to that the support for mobile access and usage (iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Microsoft) to appeal to the iPad adept business user, and social intelligence tools (Wisdom and Alert) and we conclude that MicroStrategy has cleverly positioned its products and solutions to benefit from the current cloud, social and mobile trends.

Please note: we have a market study lined up on Big Data in the Netherlands. Drop us a note if you would like more information.

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