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Wayne Eckerson

Welcome to Wayne's World, my blog that illuminates the latest thinking about how to deliver insights from business data and celebrates out-of-the-box thinkers and doers in the business intelligence (BI), performance management and data warehousing (DW) fields. Tune in here if you want to keep abreast of the latest trends, techniques, and technologies in this dynamic industry.

About the author >

Wayne has been a thought leader in the business intelligence field since the early 1990s. He has conducted numerous research studies and is a noted speaker, blogger, and consultant. He is the author of two widely read books: Performance Dashboards: Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Your Business (2005, 2010) and The Secrets of Analytical Leaders: Insights from Information Insiders (2012).

Wayne is founder and principal consultant at Eckerson Group,a research and consulting company focused on business intelligence, analytics and big data.

Visual discovery tools have surged in popularity because they are quick to deploy, easy to use, and don't require upfront IT involvement or a sizable capital investment. Upstart BI vendors, such as Tableau, QlikTech and Tibco Spotfire, have led the visual discovery charge, but enterprise BI vendors are now jumping into the game, offering comparable tools that have the added benefit of integrating with their enterprise BI platforms.

MicroStrategy was one of their first enterprise BI vendors to offer visual discovery capabilities two years ago. But unlike pureplay offerings, MicroStrategy Visual Insight was not a standalone, desktop product that customers could buy and download via the internet; they had to first purchase and install MicroStrategy's Enterprise suite, not an inexpensive or speedy proposition, or deploy MicroStrategy Express, a cloud-based front-end to MicroStrategy Enterprise.

However, MicroStrategy remedied the situation last October by releasing MicroStrategy Analytics Desktop, a free Windows-based visual discovery tool that users can download from the internet and install in minutes. The product boasts most of the data blending, visualization and publishing features that pureplay visual discovery products support, but unlike those tools, it integrates with an enterprise BI platform, namely MicroStrategy Enterprise and MicroStrategy Cloud. Although Desktop is not a front-end to those platforms, Desktop users can publish live, interactive dashboards that Enterprise and Cloud users can consume. Moreover, MicroStrategy's decision to offer Desktop for free is a bold warning shot to third party visual discovery vendors who might want to poach MicroStrategy's installed base.

Use Cases

Since MicroStrategy offers the same visual discovery capabilities in Enterprise, Cloud, and Desktop, the company positions Desktop as a self-service BI tool for people who don't have an Enterprise or Cloud license. In addition, many customers use it as a prototyping tool for building Enterprise reports and mobile dashboards. Once Desktop users create and refine a dashboard, the IT department can then incorporate any new data elements and metrics into an Enterprise or Cloud project and convert it to a pixel-perfect dashboard, if desired.

By offering visual discovery capabilities in a stand-alone Windows desktop as well as within its Enterprise and Cloud solutions, MicroStrategy has turned the visual discovery market on its head, converting it from a product category to a product feature built into an enterprise BI platform. But for customers that absolutely want a stand-alone Windows visual discovery tool, it also offers MicroStrategy Analtyics Desktop.

Posted February 2, 2014 12:22 PM
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1 Comment

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