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Embedded BI the future of analytics

Michael Saylor, CEO of MicroStrategy, discusses HyperIntelligence, the vendor's zero-click embedded analytics tool, as well as the trend of embedded analytics.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Embedded BI, the integration of analytics tools and capabilities within business software applications, is one of the hottest trends in business intelligence.

Eventually, embedded BI may remove analytics from BI platforms and simply make it part of users' everyday computing experience.

One vendor that offers embedded BI capabilities now is MicroStrategy, which introduced HyperIntelligence, a zero-click embedded BI tool, in 2019 and significantly upgraded it this month. HyperIntelligence uses pop-up cards to provide information as users hover over text on either their desktop or mobile devices.

This week here at the MicroStrategy World 2020 user conference, the vendor, founded in 1989 and based in Tysons Corner, Va., unveiled upgrades and new features for HyperIntelligence, along with the latest version of its overall analytics platform.

The new HyperIntelligence update, designed to put data in the hands of as many business end users as possible, includes improved ability to deploy on websites and applications and a new mobile app for iOS and Android. Meanwhile, MicroStrategy 2020 features an upgrade to Dossier, MicroStrategy's data visualization tool, new connectors aimed at data scientists and enhancements to the MicroStrategy Cloud Platform.

After giving the conference keynote, MicroStrategy chairman, president and CEO Michael Saylor answered a series of questions about embedded analytics and the vendor's latest updates.

In Part I of a two-part Q&A, he discussed HyperIntelligence in detail. Here in Part II, he talks about the larger trend of embedded BI as well as the MicroStrategy platform's present and future.

HyperIntelligence is part of the larger trend of embedded BI. Is MicroStrategy doing more with embedded analytics beyond HyperIntelligence?

Michael SaylorMichael Saylor

Michael Saylor: We've got a very big commitment to being open, so open means anything you can do with one of our client tools you can do with a REST API [application programming interface]. That means that any program can call those APIs and you can embed any feature or any piece of insight into any custom application, any website -- anything, anywhere -- deployed by voice, deployed by web, deployed by mobile, deployed by PC. We have a big OEM [original equipment manufacturer] business where OEMs will embed our intelligence, run our server and put it in their app.

The other thing we've done is we've got an object-oriented repository, so you can essentially build MicroStrategy up by calling those REST APIs, so if you wanted to have an application build itself differently for 3,700 customers you can do that in the MicroStrategy framework. That lends itself to embedding intelligence in lots of different apps.

As embedded BI becomes more pervasive, how will it transform the way BI looks? Will people still be looking at dashboards in five years?

Dashboards are really confined to executives being spoon-fed by analysts and it's really a small portion of the marketplace. I think the look and feel of intelligence in the future is going to be much more like the Hyper card.
Michael SaylorChairman, president and CEO, MicroStrategy

Saylor: Spreadsheets were the first paradigm and dashboards were just the successor to spreadsheets and they were more beautiful than spreadsheets, but … dashboards are really confined to executives being spoon-fed by analysts and it's really a small portion of the marketplace.

I think the look and feel of intelligence in the future is going to be much more like the Hyper card. What's the original Hyper card? [Saylor points to the nutrition information on a can of soda.] Someone came up with the idea that we should put a Hyper card on everything we eat, we put in our body, to tell us whether it's safe, but how many of those are there? There are hundreds of billions, but it's limited because they have to fit it [on a bottle]. It's pretty clear that when you have to make a decision about what to eat, how to live, you quickly want the recommendation.

How does that manifest itself?

Saylor: I can handle three, four, five facts. What's going to happen is we're going to put those in living color. Maybe we'll have a barcode scanner and we scan it and it provides a card, or smart glasses and I'll look at something [and a card will be provided]. I think that's what it will look like. It's a combination of showing me the card or, like with Hyper Vision, highlighting [information]. I see 197 things I can choose, but give me the three good ones in green and we're done. It needs to be a very light filter that doesn't get in the way of me going about my life.

Did you watch the Super Bowl? What strikes me about watching football nowadays is that they've gotten so good at showing the line of scrimmage that you forget it's not painted on the field. The line of scrimmage is dynamically computer-generated -- that's hyper-intelligence. I think you'll see a lot more of that. Not overbearing, not busy.

Beyond enhancing your embedded BI capabilities, what are some upgrades and new features in MicroStrategy 2020?

Saylor: Dramatic advances in Dossier look and feel with the freeform canvas -- you can build a dossier in a matter of minutes to hours that is very customized that otherwise would have taken weeks. Custom application development, compound grids -- that's when I have five or six different grids with different dimensionality and can stitch them together into one view -- and that pops up as a need in financial reporting or compliance reporting in a banking or finance environment. The solution to doing this previously would have taken you a long time and would have been very painful, and now we've made something very quick and easy.

Upgrades to the cloud platform and support for Azure. Upgrades in our mobile product. Also the tools -- the fact that we've been advancing our workstation to be one tool that allows you to do all administration architecture, modeling, design work, and do that quicker and easier and more powerfully than before.

And what's the roadmap for, say, MicroStrategy 2022?

Saylor: On the client side, we'll release clients that take more and more advantage of the compute and the memory of the workstation and the laptop so as to get a near instantaneous response. Just like Hyper cards anticipate your question, we'll just anticipate every possible question, re-locate the data sets and answers and pre-calculate them so you'll get a sub-one second response on any conceivable question you could ask with no processing to discern.

On the tool side, our vision has always been one tool to rule them all, one hyper-modern work station where we take every possible testing, modeling, administrative, architecture and analyst application development tool and put them all into a single work station and integrate them and polish them all so you can be 10 times more productive.

On the server side, you'll see us containerize all of our environmental platforms so that you can run an enterprise instance of MicroStrategy on a laptop, move it to a departmental server, move it to AWS, the next day move it to Azure, the next day move it to the Google Cloud, and then drag it all back down to the laptop and you'll have complete elastic ability to port and deploy your enterprise environment anywhere you see fit or in multiple places at the same time.

Editor's note: This Q&A has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

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