MicroStrategy Review

Good technical support but quite technical and needs better integration capabilities


What is most valuable?

The technical support is quite good.

We have a global scale business, where we're doing reporting on a global scale. We also have local businesses, where the countries have to report in their own local data warehouse and so on. They can all use MicroStrategy, however, I would say that MicroStrategy is a very good fit for global reporting. Their reports are excellent and thorough.

For global reporting, it's something that we're going to keep to report to senior management on a global level across all the 50 countries. 

What needs improvement?

The user has to have SQL knowledge and SQL skills.

What I think it could be very useful to have is quick measures, where it automatically brings you, let's say, three default calculations. It will be very useful and it will be very, very important maybe for the future for Power BI to have more additional quick measures there. Instead of the user having to think about, "okay, how am I going to calculate this measure? How I'm going to meet this measure?" If you already have a list of all the measures there in the quick measures, it'll make the life of the end-user much easier.

The solution is lacking some of the interactions that Tableau or Power BI offers. They have visualization points. They have good process cubes and a semantic layer on that point. However, I think they are missing the parts of user-friendliness. 

There needs to be better integration with other platforms. You can connect to several sources, but then you cannot integrate it into the suite that maybe Microsoft offers or other products offer. That said, everything depends on where your company wants to drive the business in the future. 

The end-user interaction is lacking. It's not as intuitive as Power BI is, or, in certain cases, Tableau is on virtualizations.

It's not interactive. There's a lot of filters on the page. 

The solution's reports are not very flexible.

Using this solution means that a company will need to find people with special skills. It's very difficult. When you're trying to find someone with a skill maybe in Tableau, Power BI, or Sapio, it's much easier because there are a lot of people like that in the market. Even if you're looking for a data scientist, it's very difficult to find a suitable candidate due to the fact that they have to have skills in MicroStrategy. If you don't have a resource that really understands the tool, then it will lose the purpose.

The solution should be re-designed so there is less coding and more drag and drop functionality.

For how long have I used the solution?

The organization has been using the solution for a long time. I've been in this company for a year. However, even before my time, they' were still using MicroStrategy. They may have used the solution for eight years or more.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

On the point of the semantic layer, yes, they are very strong on the question of stability. However, you need to have people that specialize in SQL, that really are specialized in MicroStrategy, that they really understand how the tool works. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The company bought 40,000 licenses. Globally they are using the product. On the sales report, everything is being done in MicroStrategy. We are trying to change the approach because we also to centralize the data somehow. Due to that, we're actually trying to minimize the usage, not to increase it.

We will reduce the volume of licenses in the future.

That said, we're a sizeable company, and in order to grow, you really just need more licenses, therefore, in that sense, it can scale well.

How are customer service and technical support?

From my understanding, from my colleagues who use MicroStrategy, the technical support is fine. We've been satisfied with their level of service.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

The companies that I worked previously were using Power BI and Tableau and Sapio as business intelligence tools. Currently, I'm largely focused on MicroStrategy.

How was the initial setup?

I'm not aware of how the process went in the organization. I only began working in the organization one year ago, and this solution was already embedded in the company.

What I'm trying to do is to switch some of the things from MicroStrategy to Power BI in the organization, due to the fact that MicroStrategy may fit for some points, but it's not intuitive for your typical end-user customer.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I'm trying to evaluate what MicroStrategy can do and possibly what Power BI can do. I think Microsoft has a strong point, maybe, on the semantic layer side, whereas Power BI has a strong visualization and transformation part. The question now is if the two tools can coexist. Let's say if you can connect Power BI directly to the semantic layer of MicroStrategy and drive the reporting capabilities from there. That would be an option for the business and something we're looking into.

In Power BI, you have, for example, a performance analyzer. It means that the user can switch the visuals. MicroStrategy doesn't have that and neither does Tableau. It's something really only specific to Power BI. Let's say that you have a bar chart. You, as an end-user, can change it to a tonal chart. You can format the end report as you like and save it as a bookmark, so everything you open the report you see it as your view. 

What other advice do I have?

We have a business relationship with the solution.

At the moment, the company is using the 2019 version of the solution. We may plan to move to the 2020 version, however, I don't know when this will happen.

The company I work for uses MicroStrategy and Power BI quite a bit, although I have used other BI tools in the past.

Of course, the company is considering a move more towards Power BI. I was hired by the company to introduce Power BI to the organization. But at the same time, there are some strong values in them continuing to use MicroStrategy. So the question is now, to try to understand where the two tools can coexist. From my perspective, in an organization, the solution always has at least two business intelligence tools. They should not only have one. It depends on the business needs in the future.

The only compellation between Power BI and MicroStrategy is that on the MicroStrategy part has a strong semantic layer on it. The disadvantage is that the user has to have SQL knowledge and SQL skills. Where in Power BI, it's very inclusive, I'd say, for the end-user. He doesn't have to have SQL knowledge, he can just maybe have an understanding of Excel and so on, and he can create several connectivities to different sources and build the thing.

While mostly this solution is on-premises, if we move to Power BI, it will be on the cloud.

The ideal situation for us would be if you could combine the Power Query from Power BI, the integration visuals from Power BI, and the personalization of the visuals from Power BI into MicroStrategy, then maybe that can work for MicroStrategy. 

They have a good data module. There's still a lot of SQL there. I think they should start to think maybe to adjust to zero-code or no coding. They should introduce drag and drop functionality, and maybe more quick measures compilations instead of doing a lot of things in the backend SQL. They should do something on a design front. It really needs to be more intuitive for the end-user, and drag and drop would help with that. 

I'd rate the solution overall five out of ten, simply because you do need to be quite specialized din order to use it effectively.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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