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MicroStrategy gets in reporting game

An analyst and early user have weighed in on Report Services, MicroStrategy's first release in the relatively new business intelligence space.

The enterprise reporting market got a little more crowded with the announcement of MicroStrategy Report Services.

Business intelligence vendor MicroStrategy, McLean, Va., added its own offering to a competitive market. It joins Cognos Inc., which recently launched ReportNet; Business Objects SA, which acquired reporting specialist Crystal Decisions Inc; and Hyperion Solutions Corp., which bought out Brio Software Inc.

"Adding a service that supports reporting puts [MicroStrategy] in good stead with the competition and fills out their product portfolio," said Keith Gile, an analyst with the Forrester Group in Cambridge, Mass.

During a webcast promoting the release Tuesday, Mark LaRow, MicroStrategy's vice president of products, touted several features in Report Services. The application covers all types of enterprise reporting, from classic business reports to scorecards, invoices and statements. It adapts to two different layout techniques: banded, the most commonly used in operational and multi-page reports, and zone-based, a graphical layout used in dashboards.

Additionally, LaRow said, reports can be user-defined, thanks to a wizard, which provides a list of possible answers and a dedicated prompt engine. The application supports 12 languages out of the box.

It also has a pixel-perfect design, allowing for desktop-publishing quality. High-throughput reporting means that reports can be delivered to any touch point, including the Web, e-mail, portals and network printers.

Finally, the product is fully integrated with the rest of MicroStrategy's 7i business intelligence system, providing one interface and encouraging user adoption, LaRow said.

"It's a differentiator from what they've been accomplishing because it doesn't require deep analytical tools," Gile said. "It's very casual-user targeted. It makes them more competitive, but it's still version one of a product. You can't compare it to multiple Crystal [Decisions'] reports out there."

Janet Hendrix, access technologies architect for Nationwide Insurance, Columbus, Ohio, has been testing Report Services for the past seven weeks and said it replaced an old, custom-coded system and provided advanced formatting and scorecards, as well as enterprise reporting power and analysis, while leveraging Nationwide's existing data.

"It's amazing how easy it is to create highly formatted reports with minimal development and training costs," Hendrix said. "This saves us time and costs, empowers user adoption and ultimately empowers our data warehouse as the ultimate source."

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