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Product strategy and customer success highlight event
At its 2004 user conference, MicroStrategy revealed its latest market position, product releases and future product plans. As for market position, MicroStrategy declared it is now and will be a business intelligence technology vendor. It also highlighted its MicroStrategy Office and Report Services products, detailing current capabilities and future directions.
Ventana Research views MicroStrategy’s BI-centric position as consistent with many ongoing and near-future IT initiatives. Its product roadmap builds upon this position, strengthening an already strong, integrated, and scalable platform. However, there is growing demand for performance management-related solutions and MicroStrategy’s BI focus may slow its participation in these new initiatives driven by line of business.
The overall theme for MicroStrategy’s user conference was Business Intelligence for the Enterprise. At the event, 800 customers and partners listened to MicroStrategy executives, marketers, partners, and showcase customers share their perspectives on the company’s recent performance and its expectations for 2004. Company strategy and future product plans were among the topics presented.
MicroStrategy continues to focus its products and services on the business intelligence market, unlike the other BI market leaders (Business Objects, Cognos, and Hyperion) that have aligned their corporate positioning with Performance Management and Business Intelligence. MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor and his key executives were careful to assure customers that, despite its growing financial success, MicroStrategy would stick to its business intelligence focus and not divert into other business ventures as in the pasts.
The enterprise support theme was revisited as executives extolled the ability of MicroStrategy’s products to handle large amounts of data and users. Executives cited survey results showing MicroStrategy-based BI deployments accessing dramatically larger amounts of data than competitors do. Also in support of its enterprise support theme, MicroStrategy continued to describe its products’ capabilities within the context of five BI usage styles (enterprise reporting, cube analysis, ad-hoc query & analysis, statistics & data mining, and report delivery & alerting). It announced several enterprise-sized sales including the United States Postal Service for $4M. The USPS project expects to deploy to tens of thousands of users.
Ventana Research believes that MicroStrategy’s enterprise focus addresses two high-priority BI deployment needs found throughout the business world. These needs are; (1) BI cost reduction through consolidation and standardization of BI platforms within the enterprise, and (2) organizational empowerment through broad information deployment to organizational line-of-business workers.
MicroStrategy Office and Report Services led the product discussions at the conference. MicroStrategy Office enables integration of the MicroStrategy suite with Microsoft Office. Leveraging Microsoft’s adoption of XML as a file description and communication protocol standard, MicroStrategy Office enables Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel users to directly access information from MicroStrategy without leaving their Microsoft applications. This provides various benefits including:
Elimination of cut-and-paste insertion of MicroStrategy data in Microsoft Office documents
Automated generation of pre-formatted Word and PowerPoint documents
Interactive access to MicroStrategy data from within Excel
Ventana Research views MicroStrategy’s integration of business intelligence technology with Microsoft Office as an innovative step towards easing user access to enterprise information. Of course, Excel integration is already available from many other BI vendors, but integration with Word and PowerPoint is new and unique. For organizations using these Office products to prepare periodic management reports, MicroStrategy’s Office can reduce preparation cost and time.
Report Services, MicroStrategy’s production reporting product launched in November 2003, was touted as a success. MicroStrategy announced that 46 customers had purchased Report Services in 46 days. Of note, 67% of to-date purchases were to augment existing projects. This is in alignment with Ventana Research’s expectations for a large part of near-term purchases of Report Services to come from MicroStrategy-loyal customers with pre-existing, but unsatisfied, reporting requirements. MicroStrategy stated that 18% of sales were to replace existing report products from other vendors. While this number is small, Report Services still lacks features commonly found in other products such as HTML-formatted reports. As MicroStrategy adds this remaining functionality, organizations dissatisfied with existing report products from other vendors will likely consider Report Services as a replacement.
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