MicroStrategy is BI's Switzerland, CEO Saylor says

At a time of dramatic consolidation in the enterprise BI (business intelligence) market, MicroStrategy sees great opportunities as an independent vendor, the company's chairman, president and CEO Michael Saylor said Wednesday.

At a time of dramatic consolidation in the enterprise business intelligence market, MicroStrategy sees great opportunities as an independent vendor, the company's chairman, president and CEO Michael Saylor said Wednesday.

Unlike competitors that become part of larger IT vendors, MicroStrategy retains the freedom and flexibility to support a broad variety of third-party products without having to weigh the competitive considerations of a parent company, Saylor said.

"Our view is to be Switzerland in this business and to make sure we protect your investment when we give you the ability to tap into lots of different vendors and technology architectures to achieve your goal," Saylor said during a keynote speech at the company's MicroStrategy World 2008 event in Miami.

For example, it's natural for Business Objects to prioritize making its products work better with the applications of its new parent company SAP -- a $6.7 billion deal -- while Cognos will do likewise once its $5 billion acquisition by IBM is completed, he said. The same story will play out with Hyperion, recently acquired by Oracle for $3.3 billion.

Even as Saylor was giving his speech, it appeared that the enterprise software market would be further consolidated, with Wednesday morning news announcements that BEA has agreed to be acquired by Oracle for $8.5 billion, and that Sun would buy MySQL for $1 billion.

By contrast, MicroStrategy can continue to chart its own course for supporting a wide variety of complementary, third-party products, such as Web browsers, operating systems, processors, databases and application servers, based on the needs of its customers and on market dynamics, Saylor said.

"The market needs a vendor that provides the flexibility we can provide," Saylor said.

Another benefit from the latest round of consolidation is that it lowers the noise in a market that 12 years ago was very crowded with more than 60 business intelligence vendors competing for attention. This makes it easier for MicroStrategy, founded in 1989, to get its message out to potential customers.

This year, MicroStrategy will focus on a number of technology and business priorities, including strengthening its business intelligence products so that they can effectively analyze even larger data sets -- whether they be in data warehouses, data marts or transactional databases -- resolve queries faster, generate higher volumes of more interactive and sophisticated reports and support increasing numbers of users, he said.

MicroStrategy will also continue to improve the performance for global and decentralized deployments of its systems, while striving to continually simplify and enhance its front-end software.

The vendor will also improve its software's support for mobile devices, and make "profound investments" in global services, in order to beef up its partner roster of qualified MicroStrategy consultants and practitioners worldwide, he said. MicroStrategy also plans to increase the amount of end-user training and education it offers globally.

While those are some of the priorities for 2008, MicroStrategy has drafted long-term goals, looking out 10 years and 20 years, which it plans to continue pursuing as an independent company, he said. "We just keep plugging away, like the Little Engine that Could," Saylor said.

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