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MicroStrategy Review
The Visual Insight component provides simple integration with D3 data visualization​. VI export does not work as expected.


Valuable Features:

From an end-user perspective, the VI (Visual Insight) component is valuable, as it provides self-exploration to users, along with data wrangling and simple integration with D3 data visualization and numerous data source exploration. Also, mobile BI deployment is easy and valuable.

In earlier versions, MSTR always required some technical person to set up the schema and the report/documents/dashboards for the end user. There were very few capabilities/features the end user could start doing on their own. With newer MSTR versions, there are easy ways for even end users to start importing data, wrangle data, if needed, and visualize using VI. And VI has additional features I have mentioned, which are like icing on the cake.

Improvements to My Organization:

This product certainly has helped in various ways in all my past client implementations, be it simple on-schedule, automatic report delivery or self-service data exploration using Visual Insight.

Room for Improvement:

MSTR is already well structured when it comes to overall product architecture. Starting with version 10.x, MSTR has improved significantly in the self-service space in comparison to BI tools in the market. However, the Visual Insight tool can be further improved, especially in the areas of presentation and export features:

  • They need to add more default visualizations, which are already available in RSD; for instance, histogram is a basic one that must exist in VI.
  • Currently, export from VI is not working as expected. (Most visuals get converted to bar chart when exporting.)
  • Though presentation mode is available, it would be nice to have an option for a more storytelling-like feature for better presentation of MSTR dashboards (similar to what is available in other BI tools).
  • Pure design mode for VI: This would help troubleshoot abrupt errors VI sometimes throws as a result of underlying data/dataset changes.

These are some of key areas I feel need to be improved; however, there are many more suggestion on the community’s idea exchange.

Use of Solution:

I have been using MSTR and related solutions for over eight years now.

Stability Issues:

I have not encountered any stability issues.

Scalability Issues:

MSTR is one of most scalable BI tools around at the moment.

Technical Support:

Depending on the type of customer you are (by that, I mean on-premise or cloud), tech support is usually knowledgeable and does escalate issues to a more-experienced expert when required. Response time on issues is average and sometimes, you need to be on top of it to get things moving or escalate to your MSTR account rep.

Previous Solutions:

I have used different solutions at different client assignments and, as part of the BI practice group in my past experience, also provided a recommendation for MSTR in comparison to other BI tools, depending on the client infrastructure or use cases.

Initial Setup:

Initial setup complexity depends:

  • If you are going on-premise with MSTR, then - depending on your knowledge on setting up the tool - some might call the setup complex. However, in my view, it’s straightforward, with tons of support and knowledge available.
  • If you choose to go cloud with MSTR, its even simpler, as MSTR technical support takes care of all the setup for you.

Cost and Licensing Advice:

MSTR can be costly and difficult to digest to begin with, but is certainly one of most structured and scalable solutions out there available in market. I think companies should look at the tool from the scalability and stability perspectives, along with weighing it against the most important use cases and to not just go by how easy it is to create or visualize data. Most tools only present a pretty picture of the tool by showing how easy it is for users to visualize data on their own and hiding the data preparation realities.

Other Solutions Considered:

I have evaluated multiple tools in the past such as Tableau, SAP BusinesObjects, SSRS, Crystal Reports, QlikView, SAS VA, Looker, etc. Each evaluation you perform depends on the use case you are focusing upon, and most of these leading tools have evolved recently. Therefore, analysis performed by me at that point could be obsolete by now. However, as far as overall architecture level, MSTR still holds the leading spot in the market.

Other Advice:

Most companies just starting to look around should try the MSTR cloud AWS offering, as that would take away most implementation hurdles or need for technical experts for setting up the environment, along with low cost of ownership compared to the on-premise offering. Also, focus on your use cases and the vision you have about taking reporting and decisions on data to that next level, which is scalable and strong as your business grows.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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