MicroStrategy World 2012 – Day 1 Recap

Here’s a quick recap of the first day, which included the opening Keynote by MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor and the first 3 sessions.  If you didn’t follow along live on Twitter, I encourage you to roll back through the timeline for the #mstrworld hashtag from 9:30am forward.  There were some great comments and points.  I don’t have time to pick them out now, but I’ll try to come back and link some of my favorites later on.

The main themes of the Keynote echoed the overall strategy from the last 2 years: Mobile and Social are the future, so get on board before you miss out.  Saylor makes his case again for a paperless society where everything is a secure digital transaction.  Further, Facebook has become the greatest CRM database on the planet and provides you with a free way to directly mine data from your customers (if you’re lucky enough to be in a business that can solicit “Likes”).  The majority of the presentation focused on these technology trends and wasn’t really focused on MicroStrategy’s core BI business.  In speaking with others following the keynote, the general attitude was “seen it”, as most of the topics and themes we’ve heard at the last 3 World Conferences. 
The crowd seems split over the value and reach of Social.  Most B2B companies are wondering how they can leverage an advantage while retailers are of course exciting.  If nothing else, everyone agrees the future is headed that directly and they’re just looking to where they can latch on.
Mobile seems to have a lot more traction, especially after expanding to the Android platform last year and with the enhancement to workflows that Transaction Services brings.  MicroStrategy Mobile has made it very easy to build your own app without any coding and using the same familiar tools that you already use for your Desktop reporting.
Cloud is the last central theme that MicroStrategy is pushing, and they boast a $100m data center that offers full MicroStrategy services to customers, including database platforms and ETL tools.  Saylor had some great quotes and stats about the value of running your operations in the Cloud.  First, he quoted the ability of a company like Zynga to quickly put up and host game servers for 10s of millions of users without having to build out a traditional data center infrastructure at 20x+ the price.  I liked his quote, “Scale Fast .. or Fail Fast” which basically says that in the event your product fails, you can easily scale down your Cloud services so you’re not on the hook for a large bill.  By not risking as much up front, it allows businesses to be more aggressive in deploying new products and solutions.  This is the best pitch I’ve heard for Cloud Services, and what I originally thought was nothing more than a convenience platform for POCs suddenly becomes very interesting when considered in that light.
The remainder of the keynote was handled by various product and marketing managers to talk about products launched within the last year.  They “announced” the North American launch of Transaction Services (which was announced and demoed at last year’s Vegas conference and launched at the European conference last July).  They also gave a demo of Visual Insights with a few pretty cool scenarios, and did a quick run through of all of the standard Enterprise Administration tools (Enterprise Manager, Command Manager, Integrity Manager).  I think a lot of organizations own these tools and don’t take full advantage of them, or maybe they haven’t heard of the new products from last year, so it just shed some light on them.  I think most attendees were disappointed to not see new product announcements, but the first Keynote is usually just the vision and path of MicroStrategy for the year.  They’re clearly on the Mobile/Social/Cloud track (as advertised), so it shouldn’t be a surprise.  Tomorrow’s keynote traditionally focuses more on near-release product enhancements and recently released features such as the 9.2.1m Mobile enhancements.
I won’t go into detail on the sessions because my experience is going to be very different from everyone else’s.  As usual, I find the most value is in networking and socializing between sessions as everyone runs around and shares quick highlights and tidbits.  Everyone is excited about something different, and I find that exciting.  Everyone’s thinking about how they can apply these new approaches and technologies to their organizations.  I’m really looking forward to customer sessions over the next few years to see where companies can take it.

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