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MicroStrategy Analytics: "Microstrategy is 'great enough' for business."
https://www.trustradius.com/business-intelligence-biMicroStrategy AnalyticsUnspecified7.5206101
Wm. Dexter Jones profile photo
Updated April 29, 2015

MicroStrategy Analytics: "Microstrategy is 'great enough' for business."

Score 8 out of 101
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Software Version
9.3.1
Modules Used
All

Overall Satisfaction with MicroStrategy Analytics

Microstrategy is our primary BI delivery environment and is being used for the entire organization. We have a unique business case in that our organization is the BI department for hundreds of other organizations; however, attributes, metrics, and nomenclature are different although using the same data set. In addition, our data sets are 10s to 100s of millions of rows of data. Microstrategy scales for large datasets and has just enough flexibility to address these problems.
  • Aggregate awareness.
  • The ability for the SQL generator to select the correct aggregate table, whether a hierarchy or dates, is invaluable to organizations with less mature database developer resources.
  • Delivery of reports, particularly web-based delivery.
  • Microstrategy provides the most options for report delivery, scheduling, and formats; a requirement of self-service BI.
  • Managing metadata
  • Microstrategy's architecture prefers a star schema; this can serve as a virtual ER builder and help locate possible bottlenecks in the database design.
  • Scheduling delivery; the use of schedules is very inflexible.
  • Instead of building specific delivery objects, a schedule builder (similar to MS Outlook) will push Microstrategy ahead of the competition. The schedule objects add to the maintenance.
  • FTP/sFTP delivery options.
  • Internal delivery to file systems and availing the file location to FTP is good, but often times external FTP/sFTP is required. Currently, BI engineers have to build external processes to deliver to external FTP.
  • Desktop dashboard development; it is a bit disjointed.
  • Dashboard development options are different between desktop (now called developer) and web are different. We often have developer and web open at the same time to build dashboards.
  • Architect product; still hasn't gained global acceptance for schema management.
  • More flexible cross-tab development.
  • There's an idea I have about joining data sets where there's aggregate data combined with crosstab data. The example i use is a annual budget (metric) along side monthly spend (metric). Today, the annual budget must be an attribute which means it cannot be used in calculations.
As a whole Microstrategy is good in more areas than the others are great in specific ones. It is probably not #1 in any particular category of BI Tool evaluations, but they are #2 or #3 in more categories than the all of the other tools we have evaluated. We selected Microstrategy originally as a client request. As we became disenchanted with workflow and or design, our evaluation of other BI tools fell so far short of functionality in Microstrategy that it was an obvious choice (using an 80-20 rule).
MicroStrategy is the best analytics tool on the market. From database preparation to dashboard development, the suite of products is the most flexible and complete. Some of the product offerings feel disjointed as if they were developed by different consulting firms, but, for the most part, the product offers everything. A common phrase in our shop is that 'MicroStrategy makes the hard things easy and the easy things hard', but the more recent releases seem to be addressing much of this. Support is pretty good and the MicroStrategy community is very involved with the development of the product as a whole.
The tool is used company-wide; however, universal adoption is still slow. A lot of the adoption issues are because of UI/UX. We have begun a process to reface Microstrategy and integrate it into other internal systems and the adoption is rapidly growing.
Connectivity occurs in three different objects: DB Instance, DB Connection, and DB User; these objects can be confusing to a less mature user/engineer. However, MSTR connects to almost everything out there natively which is a major plus. Normally, they provide connectors to new SQL/NoSQL data stores prior to industry's adoption of these technologies.
Sharing is done via a link. I think that Microstrategy should provide a more social platform for sharing; similar to FB or LinkedIN.
  • (positive) Improved analytics delivery due to the flexibility of the web platform.
  • (positive) Generated new lines of business via dashboard development.
  • (negative) Long development cycles.
  • (positive) Shorter QA cycles for analytics leveraging Integrity Manager.
You have to ask if the product you're using can handle large datasets and whether there is flexibility in the delivery of analytics? In addition, how many DBMS's does the product natively support? What is the TCO? MicroStrategy is in the upper tier for each of these questions.

MicroStrategy Analytics Feature Ratings

Pixel Perfect reports
9
Customizable dashboards
8
Report Formatting Templates
7
Drill-down analysis
9
Formatting capabilities
6
Integration with R or other statistical packages
9
Report sharing and collaboration
8
Publish to Web
9
Publish to PDF
8
Report Versioning
6
Report Delivery Scheduling
4
Pre-built visualization formats (heatmaps, scatter plots etc.)
9
Location Analytics / Geographic Visualization
8
Predictive Analytics
7
Multi-User Support (named login)
7
Role-Based Security Model
7
Multiple Access Permission Levels (Create, Read, Delete)
7
Responsive Design for Web Access
7
Dedicated iOS Application
10
Dedicated Android Application
10
Dashboard / Report / Visualization Interactivity on Mobile
10

Using MicroStrategy Analytics

Users and Roles

5 - Business Intelligence and overall analytics for the organization; both standard and custom.

Support Headcount Required

4 - 
  • Database developers
  • Data warehouse developers
  • Business analysts
  • Product Development
  • Network Admins

Business Processes Supported

  • Standard analytics.
  • Business intelligence.
  • Dashboards.
  • Custom report generation.
  • Account management.

Innovative Uses

  • Mobile dashboards.
  • Client-specific, custom dashboards.
  • Validation of datasets.

Future Planned Uses

  • Self-service BI.
  • Data warehouse design validation.
  • Two-way analytics to action system.

Evaluating MicroStrategy and Competitors

Products Replaced

Yes - 
  • SSRS - Frontend management was difficult and could not integrate with our other systems; primarily because of security.
  • Custom ASP - many features were missing from the ASP reporting packages that exist in MSTR (scheduling, view filters, schema binding, dashboards, etc.). in addition, the DEV cycles were too long.
  • MS Excel - multiple versions of the truth were constantly beibg delivered to clients via unreliable means (emails, personal cloud storage, et al.)

Key Differentiators

  • Price
  • Product Features
  • Existing Relationship with the Vendor
One of our largest clients needed a platform independent reporting system and had used MSTR in the past. We had evaluated several other products and determined that, based on price-to-value and maturity, Microstrategy was easily the best choice. Platform independence (web-delivery), delivery methods, scheduling, governance, and speed...all features leading to self-service analytics were best provided by Microstrategy.

Evaluation Lessons Learned

We probably would have forced a full bake off between Microstrategy and the other vendors instead of selecting a production based on an extended POC. We gave Microstrategy, and their consultants, an opportunity to customize the demos and features around the limitations of the product. Had we given the same opportunities to other potential vendors, I think the other vendor's would've had a better opportunity.

MicroStrategy Implementation

Implementation

8
Use your support techs...they will shorten the distance tremendously.

Implementation Details / Implementation Partner

  • Implemented in-house
  • Professional services company
HITastics

Implementation Phases

Change Management Lessons

Change management was minimal - Modifications to the underlying schema must be made with care.

Implementation Issues

  • Forcing query optimization via level metrics and VLDB settings
  • Setting up DB connections
  • Styling, styling, styling

MicroStrategy Support

Support

8
They address ALL issues/enhancements and often times, are resolved in the next version or patch of the product.

MicroStrategy Analytics Customer Support Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Quick Resolution
Good followup
Knowledgeable team
Problems get solved
Kept well informed
No escalation required
Immediate help available
Support understands my problem
Support cares about my success
Quick Initial Response
None

Premium Support

Yes - fast paced environment needs quick responses.

Bug Resolution

Yes - Yes

Exceptional Examples of MicroStrategy Analytics Support

There have been multile times that we have had product installation and licensing issues. In every case they were able to provide both a temporary and permanent solution to our issue.

Using MicroStrategy

Usability

7
The standard grid reporting could look more like the styling and object used for the Import and Visual Insight products. In addition, object properties almost seem to be hidden when first using the product. It's as if they are asking the engineers to only use the presets we make available...and, these presets are 10+ years old. On the positive side, Microstrategy seems to be the only product, not named Cognos, which can scale to Big Data. The product is "hackable" via the SDK or tricking the Intelligence Server to do uncommon things. The Microstrategy development team also seems to be very involved with their OEM partners; especially when it comes to features and enhancements. A large majority of the improvements we suggested have made it into the product or on the roadmap for future enhancements. Only suckas fall for the shiny objects from most other vendors; Microstrategy is really the only choice for Enterprise BI.

Usability Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Like to use
Technical support not required
Consistent
Feel confident using
None

Easy Tasks

  • Grid Report Generation
  • User Management
  • Installation
  • Visual Insight

Difficult Tasks

  • Documents/Dashboard
  • Database Connections
  • Attribute/metric generation
  • Report API
  • Styling

Mobile Interface Availability and Impressions

Yes - The mobile interface is one of the bright spots of the product. To get setup on mobile is literally a 3-5 step process that is fairly intuitive. The reports are responsive and immediately convert to the mobile interface via the MSTR Mobile app. The only challenge is in the first versions of the app, Android was inconsistent and the focus was on iOS.