MicroStrategy - Why, When & Where ??
Abanish Mishra | TrustRadius Reviewer
Updated June 11, 2016

MicroStrategy - Why, When & Where ??

Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Software Version

Analytics Desktop

Overall Satisfaction with MicroStrategy Analytics

Microstrategy is used as a reporting solution in my work environment. Microstrategy is used to interact on Hadoop, Microsoft SQL Server Tables, and SSAS MDX Cubes. Microstrategy's Visual Insight is used as a self service tool replacing Pivot tables & graph building in Excel.
  • Visual Insight is a very good tool for data discovery and for create quick dashboard presentation. This is is basically a online web based portal where you have capability to quickly slice & dice the data . Also it provides you options to create derived metrics & derived attribute (MSTR 10) with various mathematical or statistical functions. One of the major mention would be the map based data visualization where you can plot data based on Latitude & Longitude.Also with MSTR 10 following limitations were removed i) using hyperlink ii) HTML 5 is implemented instead of Flash ,so easy to be rendered in mobile too iii) Adding images is possible for hardcoding company logo & symbols
  • Drilling Capabilities. This requires some good backend data modeling. Once you bring in all the facts and dimensions you are supposed to establish relationship between them & create hierarchies. Then it would be easy to drill more & more. For example - Device hierarchy - (Device Used by User--> Browser-->Operating System)
  • Data Source Connectivity.
  • Enterprise Manager is basically BI to BI environment which is used by administrators or executives to track reporting usage, report performance,developer efficiency or frequency of usage & thousands of other statistics which proves to be very helpful in monitoring the efficiency of the whole environment. Once you set up Enterprise miner( which is a bit tricky) you will be able to access all the in built documents or you can custom built dashboard based on your usage
  • Visual Insight have multiple limitations. Few of them are listed here - i)Cannot change default graph colors ii) text/graph formatting are very very limited iii)Add metric to Color by / Thresholds is not possible iv)one of the worst limitation of the VI in older versions is that it is not possible to create filters that apply only to a specific visualization. For example if there are 4 graphs in one dashboard & if you have filters then those filters would be applicable for all of them
  • Some formatting options are not there either on Web or Developer especially while dealing with a document. We have to use both Web & Developer to solve issues.
  • While connecting with MDX cube reporting loses a lot of features.
Microstrategy is one best enterprise level tools which gives us amazing connectivity options. It is pretty powerful to connect to a table in Hadoop using native drivers. It is a perfect example of how any desired reporting should be. But while connecting with a cross company product like Microsoft's MDX cube it lags in its functionalities which is my reason for not giving it full credit in data source connectivity.

1) One of the major aspect of reporting is access control.

For example the Business Intelligence team interacts with lot of business like Finance, Product, Marketing etc. Each and every of these businesses consists of their corresponding employee hierarchy starting from executives in the top of the pyramid to the developer who is at the bottom of the pyramid. But everyone in the hierarchy shouldn't have access to view or modify the report. Here's why access control is required. Also if the company is part of an IPO they would like to restrict a lot of key metrics from the employees who are at the bottom of the pyramid.

MicroStrategy provides great access control facilities so that we can control sharing capabilities. We can define security roles and assign members to each and every security role. Now we can configure each and every security role to have specific privileges which is really helpful. So we restrict not only permissions for viewing a report but also different tool access capabilities.

2) Subscription Option - Email Delivery Subscription, File Refresh Subscription & Attachment Option in Excel

I have seen that a lot of executives demand to view a ready made report (to view key metrics instantly) sent to their email so that they can access it by desktop as well as a cell phone. This can be achieved from MicroStrategy. We can deliver dashboards (documents) in a specific time via emails. Delivery options can be easily manipulated. It is also possible to deliver it in pdf or Excel via email by setting up a separate file subscription for granular view and embedding a link for the drive where the file is stored. It also contains compression capabilities, password protected files, and delimiter options. You can send a file only to specific users and send a preview to all users with options for email subscription.There are also time based unsubscribe options available.

3)Data Sharing Can be done in PDF, Excel

It is possible to quickly export data into Excel from Visual Insight Grid or Documents. Until the recent version of MicroStrategy 9.4.1 for PDF everything was Flash based. But starting with MicroStrategy 10 everything is pretty much based on HTML 5.

4)Native Excel Drivers for Old School People

I have seen a lot of executives (non tech savvy people) still prefer to see the data in a grid in Excel as they are not fan of visualization. They just care about the numbers being correct at the end of the day without any fancy graphical representation. MicroStrategy provides an option to have native Excel Drivers directly interacting with a live document. Once we install this add-on Excel will show you a MicroStrategy add-in in menu bar based on what you can connect to MicroStrategy projects. This can be really helpful sometimes for a quick data preview.

5)Visual Insight helps to quickly plot dashboards

A lot of tech savvy new users now a days like to use a visualization tool to observe different trends in data. For the last two decades people have been using Microsoft Excel for drawing charts and pivot tables. But MicroStrategy’s Visual insight takes the whole thing to another level. It is very user friendly and gives lot of options for quick manipulations of data. You can visually observe the data in a different format. It gives the option of derived metrics and derived attribute (MicroStrategy 10). Complex formulas can directly be applied on the metrics to add derived metrics. There are filter options. There are date sliders (mainly used for trend lines) and options to select a specific part of whole data set. Also functions like OLAP, data mining and statistics makes manipulations very easy.

6)Intelligent Cubes can be scheduled to refresh the data

There is the concept of an Intelligent Cube which can be built on top of architect facts and dimensions. For refreshing data on a daily basis we can input schedules which can update data or delete and insert data in intelligent cubes at a specific time or multiple times in a day. Reports are supposed to be built of top of these cubes.

7)Direct Control to Hadoop via Hive & Free Form SQL Query to Hadoop

There is way to direct query big data (in free form ) via Hive from Hadoop. The new version of MicroStrategy prime has also introduced native drivers a way through which big chunks of data can be taken in memory for faster retrieval of data.

MicroStrategy Analytics is not only a visualization layer but also data modeling tool itself. So you can bring in all your facts and dimensions and define the relationship in architect mode to build intelligent cubes. It shouldn't be mixed up with a visualization tool like Tableau which doesn't have any other capability (data architect and mining). Companies who need to use it only as a visualization layer tool shouldn't use MicroStrategy.

MicroStrategy Analytics Feature Ratings

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