MicroStrategy World 2012 – Day 2 Recap

For starters, I’m sorry for the dramatic drop off in Twitter activity from yesterday for those trying to follow along at home.  WiFi and 3G connectivity was very spotty all day, and I gave up early.  Nevertheless, I kept my notes, and the following are my impressions and experiences from Day 2.

The 2nd day’s keynote was a deep dive for new Cloud and Social products.  These were mostly refinements of the features we’ve already seen last year, but they still served as very useful information as I admittedly didn’t know much about the details of either offering.
Gartner Research
Before the aforementioned deep dives, Gartner gave a quick presentation on BI Industry trends.  The theme of the presentation was a catchy, “Analytics is the combustion engine of business” which I loved.  Gartner is always good for some quick stats and some of them were fresh out of their 2012 research releases.  Analytics is the top priority of CIOs for 2012 (interestingly, Cloud was #3 and Social was #11 on this list.  I didn’t catch where Mobile was) with Data Discovery (specifically defined as visually assisted, like MicroStrategy Visual Insights) is tagged as a hot new area for this segment with dollars spent per year rapidly outpacing the flat year over year spend on traditional core BI (this could be why the theme of the conference has been so far removed from core BI).  Gartner quoted that the overall BI market was over $10 billion in 2010 and is trending ever upwards as only 28% of potential users are currently using, implying a still largely untapped user base.  Ease of use was still the reigning champion for buying criteria, and if you sum those all up (ease of use, visual engagement, analytics and data discovery), you conveniently arrive at a product resembling Visual Insights/Cloud Personal.  While I think those products are still very young, that’s undeniably the direction of the future as business users become more consumer natured and aren’t going to adopt some of the traditional interfaces and workflows we’ve accepted over the years.
MicroStrategy Cloud
Cloud Services basically comes in three flavors:
Cloud Personal
This is the offering that we know today.  The only item of mention here is the recently release of Sales Force integration, which allows you to build dashboards on your existing Sales Force data.

Cloud Professional
This is a new product level that will be released soon that gives a little bit more infrastructure to the Cloud Personal experience.  It includes all of the features of Cloud Personal, but also comes with a large library of security modes and certificates and a user management interface for setting up finer control over who has access to your dashboards.  The interface looked very similar to the ACL web interfaces we got in 9.2.  The other nifty feature of Cloud Professional was a “Blasting” feature.  The interface for this looks just like the Subscriptions interface in MicroStrategy Web, and as expected it allows you to setup your dashboards to be sent out on a schedule.  The term “Blasting” is borrowed from the Narrowcast days as it was also shown that you can quickly personalize the distributions to only send the slices of data that are relevant/secured to each recipient.  So Bob only gets the South data, and Shirley only gets the North data. That scheduling also extended to the Sales Force integration piece for refreshes, but it wasn’t clear if this was a Professional only feature or if it is/was in Personal (I don’t have a Sales Force account to test on Personal).

Cloud Enterprise
This is big boy.  While Personal and Professional are basically Dashboard Builders, Cloud Enterprise is a completely different animal.  MicroStrategy boasted the completion of a $100m data center to host Cloud Services, and this is what they’ll be using it for.  Saylor made his use cases in the opening Keynote on Day 1, and the basic idea is that you’ll use MicroStrategy the same way you use it now, except instead of hosting it on your own servers, you’ll use theirs.  They said that half of their current Cloud customers use this method.  This enables you to forgo the expense and expertise required for all of the server administration and some customers quoted that their environments were 3x faster by moving to MicroStrategy’s Cloud Services instead of hosting themselves (I assume they’re talking about Web reaction time, and obviously not data performance at this stage).  

But if data performance is what you want, Cloud Enterprise also offers full data hosting on your choice of Netezza, Teradata or ParAccel and they’ll even host an Informatica instance for you as well.  Using Cloud Services also comes with 24×7 support and monitoring and every customer gets a clustered IServer environment for maximum uptime.  The financial arguments for Cloud are very compelling.
Social Intelligence
The final piece of this year’s trifecta is Social.  It’s quite a polarizing piece of technology that seems to place everyone in the “love it” or “hate it” groups.  When I did my own informal poll back in October, 81% said they didn’t plan on using it, and as previously mentioned, Gartner quoted it as only the 11th (out of ~12 items on their list) in terms of priorities in 2012 for organizations.  Nevertheless, MicroStrategy is eager to offer a framework for you to get to the data.

I’m still not 100% clear about the inner workings of each piece, but MicroStrategy lays out three distinct components of the infrastructure that lives on top of Facebook.  The core piece is MicroStrategy Gateway which is the engine of extracting and consuming the data, MicroStrategy Wisdom which is used for analyzing and finding the key insights, and MicroStrategy Alert which is the push back mechanism for taking action.  Wisdom and Alert are pretty much demos of what you can do at those steps (though you could still leverage those apps directly if you wanted to), they seem to want you to build your own apps in those spaces and leverage Gateway as the glue.

Wisdom also has a dual identify in that it’s consumer side (what you’ll find if you visit the App Store), is pretty interesting in it’s own right.  Users can opt to join the network, which currently boasts 5 million users, and mine whatever social insights they can from everything.  It’s basically a social network on top of a social network, but the presentation gave some pretty compelling demonstrations of this power.

I went to some great sessions and saw some really amazing things.  I won’t go into details yet, because they deserve to be written about in their own dedicated posts in the future.  Hint: Rick Pechter is a fantastic speaker, and its criminal that MicroStrategy doesn’t market his team’s work in the Data Mining and Analytics components more (or at all).

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