MicroStrategy 7i Business-Intelligence Platform (CRM Buyer Magazine, April 3, 2003)

MicroStrategy 7i's relational OLAP engine enables the technology to scale small or large, says Forrester analyst Keith Gile. The bad news: Relational OLAP engine tools now are less in demand because IBM, Microsoft and Oracle have OLAP functions in their databases

MicroStrategy (Nasdaq: MSTR)  says its 7i release has both the brains and the brawn large enterprises need to perform a comprehensive array of business-intelligence tasks. Chief operating officer Sanju Bansal describes the technology as "industrial strength" because it integrates five "styles of business intelligence" into a single platform. It is the only company to do so, he told CRM Buyer Magazine.

The five styles, according to Bansal, are investigative analysis; ad hoc querying using OLAP functionality; statistical treatment and data-mining algorithms for predictive analysis; "pixel perfect" reports; and OLAP analysis of defined sets of data.

Power of Five

"MicroStrategy 7i can take on the different personalities of the task," said Bob Moran, vice president of enterprise business applications and analytics at Aberdeen Group. "It has the ability to use the same platform to deliver the right type of analysis and reporting for the right chore. No one else can do this."

Moran told CRM Buyer that the technology is capable of undertaking the many different types of analysis necessary to support the diverse needs of MicroStrategy's 300-plus customers, many of which are large, household-name companies.

Users can scale to enterprise-class requirements, Bansal pointed out. "Customers buy capabilities incrementally. If what they're using works for them, they come back and buy more."

Double-Edged Dagger?

MicroStrategy 7i's relational OLAP engine enables the technology to scale to small or large databases, agreed Forrester Research analyst Keith Gile. The bad news is that relational OLAP engine tools are now less in demand because IBM, Microsoft and Oracle have OLAP functions in their databases, he told CRM Buyer.

Customers will have to ask themselves whether it is worth paying more for applications development from MicroStrategy and whether they see value in going with all of the software's business styles, Gile cautioned.

Although MicroStrategy faces challenges ahead, it has been well received as a technology company because of the depth and breadth of its business-intelligence offerings, according to Aberdeen's Moran.

Acknowledging that the market is "highly competitive," Bansal also noted that it is growing. "Business intelligence has tremendous value for users wanting to leverage their assets. It is maturing from simple reporting tools to the industrial-strength level. We can help companies make that transition," he asserted -- and without making a multimillion-dollar investment. MicroStrategy 7i pricing ranges from US$50,000 to $100,000.

Focusing on Customer Needs

Another attribute of MicroStrategy 7i is its pure Web architecture, which makes it easy for businesses to share information with customers, sales teams and partners. And its zero footprint means no client downloads, Bansal said.

The Web interface is user friendly and includes drag-and-drop report formatting and drop-down menu bars. Web users can build their own reports, design reports for other users and interactively analyze data.

In addition, MicroStrategy 7i's portable analytics modules contain predefined, business-oriented reports and business workflows that can be customized and ported to existing databases and data warehouses