MicroStrategy Review

It allows us to code triggers to our affiliate system, CRM, and reporting services.

Valuable Features

  • Mobility: Until very recently, I ran the marketing department for my online gaming company. The ability to review reports, have alarms, drill through the data and make actions (referred to as TRX services) was invaluable. I could decide on the go or at home which campaigns to run the next day, which products to advertise or which partners to invest on. My business is quite volatile and fast changing and so need to be the tools that manage it.
  • Usher allowed us to let go of slow connections to VPN, speeding up the tasks probably by 10-fold and providing an improved security layer.
  • Transactional services allowed us to code triggers to our affiliate system, CRM, and reporting services. This allowed us to clean up the data on the go, start and stop campaigns and partners, and better relay data to other departments. It's a strong offering that most BI systems lack.
  • Visual Insights: This one is where most tools focus on, and although MicroStrategy is not the best – I rate Tableau and Qlik better – it is definitely up there; easy slice and dice of information and visually appealing reports for the non-techie businessman. :)

Improvements to My Organization

The main transformations came in the form of mobility, security and self-service.
Smaller benefits came, for instance, from the disappearance of point-in-time presentations for board members with Office integration.

Publishing centralized reports allowed a consolidation of metrics and interdepartmental cooperation and efficiency.

Room for Improvement

There are ways to go in the areas of newer technologies (big data), better integration with other visualization tools. For instance, MicroStrategy does not provide real-time reporting and integration with other services (social media listening, for instance).

Transactional services should have a big overhaul in terms of delivery, tracking, rollback and documentation.

On the major improvements I would recommend – I would say last but not least – is a review of the UX of the whole backend, as it looks a lot like it’s from the early 2000s.

Use of Solution

I have used it for three years.

Stability Issues

We encountered stability issues in the beginning; the learning curve for troubleshooting is not small. However, after training on the MicroStrategy server was done, we found the platform very reliable.

Scalability Issues

Not for our use case, yet. We use MicroStrategy just as the content delivery layer; all our backend is done using a Hortonworks "BigData" (dislike the term btw) stack.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Technical support is good.

Previous Solutions

We previously used several different solutions. :) I’ve been in business for a while. I actually for this business never switched, as Lottoland was a new business. The reason I didn’t use the technologies that I used in the past such as Oracle, SQL Server with Crystal Reports, Jaspersoft, Cognos, QlikView, SAP BO and so on..., is that I had looked at MSTR’s potential, but their pricing structure was far too complicated and convoluted. When that changed, it tipped the scales to choose them as our provider.

Initial Setup

From a technical perspective, the default installation is quite straightforward.

However, initial setup complexity depends on the eye of the beholder I guess. I started with around 70 end users, 120 reports/dashboards across the company, one production server of MSTR with passive fallback, and transactional services for writeback on our data warehouse.

MSTR has no contact with nor at any point was used to manage the data warehouse or our data sources.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

Pricing, as I understand it, is now based on:

  • Users
  • Cores
  • A separate price for mobile

I have no advice, I'm afraid; it’s quite straightforward. As a rule of my company, we keep costs low so strictly report readers have no access; "inquirers", power users, and technical staff have full access. If at any point the cores become cheaper, we would switch. :) Then they have to reassess access strategies, as it becomes more important the time users access the platform rather than the amount. We'll never be in that situation because we run on commodity servers (we prefer more servers with more cores rather than a big mainframe). If I have any advice, it is to go cloud if possible; due to our regulations, we cannot.

Other Solutions Considered

Before choosing this product, we evaluated several other options, the usual subjects: BO, SQL Server, Tableau, Qlick,...

Other Advice

If you implement a specific refresh window, be very wary of refresh times and memory consumption; system refreshes block any other action on the system. Other than that, the platform is quite intuitive for anyone who has BI solution implementation experience.

MicroStrategy is the best of all enterprise solutions on a price/value axis.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
1 Comment
author avatarOrlee Gillis

Which immediate changes would you hope to see in the UX of the backend?

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