What is our primary use case?
Our primary use case is to deliver all data insights to our company. We do not serve our platform engineering computing teams, but we are working on that. We're actually trying to do that. We serve the entire business: the finance, merchandising, and marketing team. All those teams are meant to use our tool, so we produce a lot of reports for them. We connect it directly to our data warehouse, that is their direct connection to all the data they need to run their business.
It is performing great. We have built some really cool tools. We would like our users to use it more. For some non-technical people who do not have experience with a tool like this, they were a little intimidated. Therefore, they use Excel a lot. Thus, our big mission over the last year, and we have been successful with it, was to get them off of Excel and to make them use MicroStrategy. The more we get them to overcome their initial intimidation, or whatever it is, the more they take to it more quickly.
We use it as a front-end application. We connect directly to MicroStrategy web.
How has it helped my organization?
There have been actual direct bottomline impacts in terms of extra revenue created from the reporting solutions that I showed them how to do. Without getting into any details, I showed our marketing team how to go after more high value products that they could then push out, which resulted in more revenue. I showed another team how to identify other products that would otherwise be swept under the rug, and because they found these, they made an extra push and we got an extra X amount in revenue from a specific sale because of it. Therefore, it has had a direct impact on bottomline improvements.
The other win is a lot of productivity. I have shown our users how to stop using Excel. They would create these vast Excel files, and I showed them how to do the same thing with MicroStrategy, which saves a significant amount of time for them everyday.
These have been the two big impacts from MicroStrategy.
What is most valuable?
From the perspective of serving the users, the most valuable feature that we have been able to give them is the Self-Service reporting tool. For example, the cubes in the report builder and showing them how to do that has gone a long way over the past year to getting them to develop their own insights for specific problems that they have.
What needs improvement?
We already got some demos of the next release, so we are really excited about the Dossier. It is going to be really big.
The other one that we are excited about is the collaboration aspect, where you can ping somebody on a dashboard and it sends them an email. Those are two things that we want, and those are two things that we are expecting.
Our users tend to say the interface is a pain, which I can go either way. I find that once you use it for about a month, you are fine. But for some reason, some users are maybe not tech savvy or they are not familiar with applications like this. They have a steep learning curve, for whatever reason. Everything else is great. It has integrated very well into our data warehouse. I find it easy to build dashboards and create stuff. So, I am happy with it. It is just the end user has that pretty common steady complaint, but we are overcoming it.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Stability is good. It is really stable. We rarely have issues with MicroStrategy going down.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Scaling is something that we also are going to have to do a lot of in 2018, because our user base is going to increase. We are connecting to other people that are producing more. Up until now we have had a stable base of users, so scaling has not even been a thing.
We have grown along with it pretty well, so I have not had any issues.
How is customer service and technical support?
We will occasionally reach out to tech support. One of our Dev guys actually used to work for MicroStrategy, so he is our guru. He will occasionally reach out to MicroStrategy for error bug fixing, etc. However, it is very few and far in-between.
How was the initial setup?
I was not involved in the initial setup.
We are going to be looking for the next platform release. That is what we are hoping for, and so I will be involved in that.
What other advice do I have?
Explore the Self-Service tool functions to rely on cubes. I will also recommend to teach your users to become comfortable with the tool. Since we started doing this in 2017, rather than having our data team build everything, such as all the reports, we have started pushing it more towards the users. The response has been phenomenal. Create Self-Service tools and "force" your users to use them.
We do not use it to embed analytics into the applications. Most of the people use the web access. We are working on actually building out more enhancements to our whole data warehouse. Right now, our data warehouse is sort of static; negative load and that is it. It is not as real-time as we would like. We are working on building that out first to create more real-time, at which point we will work on some potential integrations with other applications, but I don't think we are there yet.
We have not used any of the APIs, but that is what we have just started to explore. A lot of the stuff that we have done, unfortunately, has been a lot of manual stuff. At least on our end, we have ETL intensive processes. We have data sense, which we write ourselves then have to send them. We have to create some job framework and all this really time consuming stuff. So, one thing we actually did start talking about recently is how to get more API-focused work done. That is going to be our goal for this year.
Most important criteria when selecting a vendor: responsiveness. That is probably one of the big ones. We are a relatively small company. Our parent company is huge, but we operate autonomously from them, so we are small compared to them. Being able to reach out and still have access to people that will help us, even though we are small, is really a big thing for us.
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Feb 01 2018