MicroStrategy Readies Easier Data Analysis

SAN MATEO (06/23/2000) - Database experts say that slicing and dicing data, in a way akin to data warehousing, practically requires a doctorate in statistics.

When MicroStrategy Inc. announces MicroStrategy 7.0 next week, the company will aim to make analyzing data easier for average users.

Aaron Klein, product manager for MicroStrategy 7.0, said the product is a new platform on which companies can build BI (business intelligence) applications to glean data out of data warehouses for tasks such as e-CRM, supply chain management, and business analytics.

Klein said there is more to it than just giving users the ability to see the data.

"Analysis isn't really linear," Klein commented. "Once it's done, people typically want to analyze those results even more."

In the process, however, Micro-Strategy 7.0 does not change the physical schema of the data, just the way it is represented.

The ultimate benefit, said Klein, is that the software can present a customized hierarchy of the data. Such personalization is achieved by guiding users with preset reports so they can get what they want from the data.

As a result, the software enables users to answer complex data questions that require second-and third-order calculations, such as which of a company's suppliers are the most commonly used and most profitable for conducting business.

"It behooves firms to analyze and torture their data to get answers to [questions about] which customers are buying which products and where and when they're doing so," said analyst Lou Agosta, director of research at Giga Information Group Inc., in Chicago.

An online company, for instance, can use the technology to extract data about purchasing patterns, MicroStrategy's Klein said.

Klein noted that Visa International uses the software to track how long stolen credit cards are used before the average customer notices.

The software is designed for experienced statisticians as well as average end-users, Klein added.

With the company's primary software data analysis competitors, WhiteLight Systems Inc. and Computer Associates International Inc. -owned Information Advantage standing in place, MicroStrategy may be poised to make a big impact, Agosta said.

"MicroStrategy, which has always had top-notch technology, is sort of the last man standing in terms of technology," Agosta said. "Customers with large volumes of data may actually have nowhere else to go at this time."

Agosta said MicroStrategy's ability to provide relational online analytical processing is key to leveraging massive amounts of data.

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