MicroStrategy, the long-standing Enterprise BI pure-play is -- literally -- ringing in the new year with a new version of its platform. To celebrate the new release, appropriately dubbed MicroStrategy 2019, MicroStrategy's Founder and CEO Michael J. Saylor and his team are ringing the bell at the Nasdaq MarketSite in Times Square this morning.
I hope MicroStrategy can bring good luck to the markets this morning, but the company certainly has some interesting new features to make their customers happy, even if Nasdaq investors end up having a rough day. As explained to me by Marge Breya, MicroStrategy's CMO and Hugh Owen, the company's SVP of Product Marketing, these new features fall under three pillars: "HyperIntelligence," "transformational mobility," and "federated analytics." While these names are clearly the result of carefully crafted product marketing, there is genuine merit and utility to be found in the MicroStrategy 2019.
Let's start with HyperIntelligence, which is all about augmenting documents and applications with contextual BI-driven information. Much in the way some Web sites will automatically underline certain words and let you hover over them for definitions, MicroStrategy's HyperIntelligence feature will underline words it recognizes and summon "HyperCards" -- content that you can think of either as really small dashboards or really big tool tips.
The content must be explicitly authored -- but that can be done with drag-and-drop customization of HyperCard templates. And once the authoring is complete, anyone with connectivity to the MicroStrategy server who's running Google's Chrome Web browser, and has the HyperIntelligence browser extension installed, will see the feature light up, be it on news Web sites, browser-based apps like Salesforce, or even competing browser-based BI platforms (MicroStrategy actually demonstrated how the feature can manifest in Microsoft's Power BI service -- though not in the Power BI desktop).
While the MicroStrategy 2019 HyperCard technology is not directly related to Apple's HyperCard -- first introduced in the late 1980s and itself a precursor of the World Wide Web -- there is some thematic unity, in terms of contextual cross-referencing.
Vision, voice and everything in the browser
Other variations of HyperIntelligence include HyperVision -- features in MicroStrategy apps that can use BlueTooth-based identity detection to bring up data about a person (a salesperson who walks into a conference room, for example) or GPS technology to fetch data on a property or location. There's even HyperVoice -- integration with Amazon's Alexa platform to provide for voice-driven natural language query.
At launch, HyperCard technology will work just with Web content in the Chrome browser, but Breya and Owen explained to me that support for other browsers as well as for personal productivity desktop software, including Microsoft Outlook, will be forthcoming. Meanwhile, enough users out there are already running email, CRM, ERP, customer service -- even spreadsheet and word processing -- applications inside their browsers, and specifically inside Chrome, that the functionality at launch should be pretty actionable.
The other two pillars of MicroStrategy 2019 -- transformational mobility and federated analytics, provide for no-code/low-code mobile BI app development on the Android and iOS platforms, and extended connectivity to an array of conventional data sources and applications, respectively.
Other new features in MicroStrategy 2019 include support for Microsoft's Azure cloud; hybrid/multi-cloud migration help; upgrade automation; a new semantic layer with usage/context-driven content recommendations; and a new "Dossier" feature supporting search engine-like natural language querying capabilities, with auto-completion assistance. There's also an improved REST API and integrations with R and Python.
A little less than a year ago, MicroStrategy announced connectors for self-service BI platforms (competitors, essentially) including Tableau, Qlik and the aforementioned Power BI. A little less than three months later, the company announced a slew of new visualization features on its own platform.
With today's announcement, MicroStrategy is sending a pretty clear message: whether you're using our front-end, someone else's, and even if you're not using any BI application per se, our back-end platform and its governed semantic layer will be there, augmenting your experience with relevant metrics and data.