How is mobility changing the Business Intelligence (BI) market?


by Amy-jo Crowley| 10 February 2014

Paul Zolfaghari, president of MicroStrategy, tells CBR what IT decision makers should be aware of when choosing a mobile BI platform and its plans to support the Windows operating system.


How do you think mobility is transforming the Business Intelligence (BI) market?

What mobility has done is created a massive set of concentric circles that now exist outside of a corporate headquarters, taking analytics and reporting not only to employees inside or outside the headquarters, but also to the supplier chain, the customer service representative, sales people, the partnering community and ultimately on to an including consumers themselves.

What MicroStrategy is trying to do is unlock the exponential growth in BI analytics by taking advantage of mobile devices to take that same power of insight that used to exist in headquarters and really put it in the hand of remote employees.

What should IT decision makers be aware of when they're looking to embrace mobility?

They need to find a technology solution that is scalable as it needs to support thousands of additional people, agile because with mobile and mobile solutions, what people are really looking for is something that serves information up to them quickly so that they can look at it and make a rapid decision that takes place quickly when you're mobile, when you're meeting with a customer, a client, or a need that information in your hand in order to maintain or continue a discussion and so to some degree the strength of mobile solutions is the power and precision by which it's able to exact information, present that information in a visually appealing way.

What makes a solution 'visually appealing'?

If you look at the applications that you spend time in on your smartphone or iPad, whether such as apps that you've downloaded from a bank, the ones that tend to have the greatest use are the ones that are very easy to understand. It's creative and renders the information in an appealing way that allows you to gain that insight almost immediately. The expectation for people that are receiving enterprise applications on their smartphones and iPads is they want them to have the same level fit and finish and appeal as the applications that they've downloaded for themselves and their personal lives, such as Facebook or LinkedIn. That's the level of quality that needs to exist in an enterprise application in order to gain the attention of somebody on a mobile device.

How does MicroStrategy's mobile BI software work?

Our mobile product is an actual platform that can be customised to the fit and finish and expectations of the customers.

To give you a real world example, our solutions are now in Gucci's store and it's something that's being carried by the sales associates of Gucci when individuals come into the store. It gives them an extra way of interacting with individuals within the store. When we met with the CIO in order to build this application, they were adamant that the mobile application needed to be emblematic of the same luxury good feel people have with any of their products. It needed to have the same almost luxury good feel as one of their purses for one of their wallets.

How easy is the solution to deploy?

We publicly promote the MicroStrategy Mobile QuickStrike, where we come in with our team in a two-week period or less. What we do is we work with them, we get their data, we build a prototype, we show them the prototype, we actually develop a video with them showing the business people how easy it was to develop the application and that video actually they can use inside of the organisation to show other people just how easy it is to build and manage and deploy the application.

What will happen is the company will give us a subset of the data, you build out the use case, you build out what the dashboard would look like, what the workflows would be and we complete that within a two-week period. And then it takes a little bit longer after that to build it and install it across global enterprise.

Which mobile operating systems do you support?

We support Android and iOS and we are engaging in efforts to take on Microsoft Windows. It's not a technical question, it's really a market question. We're a company that's agnostic if you will to the hardware and to the operating systems because we're not in that business. We're just in the business of providing software, so we're really just responding to our customer requirements and they're telling us they're looking at Android and Apple currently.

Now over time, we certainly think Windows is going to take on more momentum but even Windows and Microsoft acknowledge that their first effort into the market with Windows Mobile 8 wasn't necessarily as effective as they wanted, but if they continued to improve on that, then we're certainly going to continue to supply our software to support that market.

Have you set a launch date?

We don't have a particular date in which it would be available. You'll see that our efforts into the Windows operating system will be consistent with and the timeliness within which Microsoft actually makes a significant step forward.

And to be clear, we're fully 100% integrated with Microsoft as the leading enterprise system for our web-base solution.

Have any of your customers had any challenges with the solution, which they've overcome?

We are uniformly ranked as number one in the industry. The customer satisfaction and expectations that are being met - are uniformly positive. They see great improvement in worker productivity, customer satisfaction, engagement ultimately better revenue and operating margins. I would say in my experience in the industry it's the highest level of satisfaction that I've seen in the delivery of IT projects and it's definitely one of our fastest growing divisions in our business.

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