In addition to its dashboard, reporting, and scorecard development tools, MicroStrategy has more than 10 tools in its product suite which help to integrate with other technologies and products.
- Enterprise Manager tracks the usage of the MicroStrategy environment. This helps management to know how well the stakeholders, such as sales and business users, are using the tool for decision making or for daily sales tracking. They can know if there is an ROI for this tool.
- Visual Insight helps top executives with little or no technical background to find the insights and visualize the data in no time. Multiple formats are supported: Excel, CSV, text, and more.
- More than 50 data connectors include connectors to relational databases, NoSQL databases, social media, and other BI tools. This enables MicroStrategy to connect to any other data source to extract insights from it.
- MicroStrategy's Distribution service is so robust that it can send notifications, emails, and send to FTP to different sets of users and locations with a different personalization for each subscription.
Improvements to My Organization
Our Finance team has to send alert emails to stakeholders for the open due balance during the first week of every month. The details include the bank account details for transfers, invoice details, and the repo rate.
This used to be done manually. MicroStrategy’s Distribution services became a game changer for us. We send around 1000 emails in 10 minutes. It also provides a mechanism to track the delivery of emails and notify the administrator in case of failure.
Room for Improvement
Compared to other BI tools in the market, the development time for dashboards, reports, and scorecards for this tool is high.
It has developer and web components that are that the other has. It becomes difficult for a developer to switch between them for development.
Many BI tools enable you to develop a dashboard once, and then view it on various devices, such as web, mobile, and iPad. MicroStrategy dashboards are not auto-sized based on the device. A separate dashboard has to be developed for each device.
For every release, there are new features with new bugs equal to them. The vendor has to come up with quarterly releases, which is good; but the applications in a production environment are unstable because of the frequent upgrades being done.
Use of Solution
I have been using MicroStrategy for more than five years.
Until version 10.2, the environment was quite stable. After that, MicroStrategy started releasing new versions on a quarterly basis. This means that more upgrades need to be done on the production environment. This makes the system a little unstable.
With recent releases, MicroStrategy introduced the “Work Fencing” concept for hardware scalability.
MicroStrategy uses PRIME (Parallel Relational In-Memory Engine), which it claims as the “interactive exploration of terabytes of data with millions of users.”
MicroStrategy has been very good in upgrading itself to handle Big Data, both in terms of hardware scalability and the volume of data it can handle. We did not come across any problems in terms of scalability.
Customer Service and Technical Support
Technically, the support team is very strong in terms of troubleshooting the MicroStrategy logs and other system logs. They also suggest a few best practices for better performance and maintaining a stable environment.
However, they ask for too many logs and files if a help request is raised. It would be helpful to have a centralized log.
The time zone of the support team and the development team is usually different. This delays the resolution time.
Prior to switching to MicroStrategy’s Business Intelligence tool, we were using Excel and SQL queries to track business metrics. These solutions required more technical knowledge. There is no centralized ecosystem which can integrate and troubleshoot if there are issues.
We purchased MicroStrategy licenses, expecting our business users to like the seamless experience. MicroStrategy has a mobile component which helps our sales team track and showcase insights to stakeholders without any problems.
MicroStrategy setup requires a few hardware prerequisites, and a few other installations in the system. This include the .NET framework, IIS, etc. Once the prerequisites are met, it is straightforward.
Also, we can install different MicroStrategy components in different servers, assuming that those servers are able to communicate with each other. This avoids the overhead of having traffic on only one server.
Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing
I don't have much information on this. MicroStrategy offers two types of license: per user and per device. The licensing is a litter higher compared to other BI players in market.
Other Solutions Considered
Apart from MicroStrategy, there are a few other players in the market which are actually doing good. There are the in-memory BI tools like QlikView and Tableau, and traditional BI tools like Cognos.
We have found some aspects of MicroStrategy which actually suit our business model, so we went with it.
There are around 10+ good BI players in the market. All of them have their own strengths in terms of visualizations, predictive analysis, self-service, mobility, scalability, etc.
I would definitely recommend this product, but I would suggest that companies identify what exactly the business users are looking for in a Business Intelligence tool, and try to evaluate the tools abilities and licensing cost before actually purchasing the tool.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Oct 18 2016