Jan 25 2012

MicroStrategy World Day 1

Categories: Conferences, MicroStrategy Dave Rathbun @ 1:05 pm

I’m at my first MicroStrategy conference this week. It’s interesting to see what is different and what’s the same compared to the Business Objects conferences that I normally attend. For one thing, they don’t hand out survey forms at the sessions. For a BI / data company, that seems surprising. The food here (which I know is a big reason why folks come to conferences, yes? ;-) ) is like the food used to be at Business Objects conferences several years ago, that is to say we sit down for lunch and they bring around plates. Yesterday was chicken, pasta, green beans, and cheesecake for dessert. It was quite good.

That being said, try to find a bottle of water, or even a water cooler, anywhere around the place. It’s nearly impossible. I finally found some water late yesterday afternoon, after asking a number of different conference folks and getting blank looks or, “I think I saw some over there, somewhere…” comments. The wireless has been good, although it ironically dropped out (at least for me) in the room I went to for the mobility track. :lol: That track is all the way on the end of the hotel, so perhaps they need another access point.

Not only are they not handing out survey forms during the sessions, but they’re not scanning our badges as we enter the rooms. Again, for a data company I find that surprising.

But what about the content? Yesterday I attended three sessions. The first was a joint session between Teradata and eBay. The Teradata folks talked about their generic concepts for “big data” and how to let analysts make the best use of it. The eBay gentleman then talked about some specifics around how they work with their large data sources (petabytes of data). It was interesting but I didn’t see a lot of MicroStrategy stuff, just big data stuff. Next I went to a session delivered by LinkedIn. I found it to be more interesting because in this case they talked about data quality issues that I can certainly related to. BOB is nowhere near as big as LinkedIn (they have 135MM users at this point) but we still have consistency issues. For example, the presenter asked the audience how many ways we thought the job title of “Software Engineer” appeared in their database. The majority of the guesses were very low compared to the actual value of over 6,000. They have over 8,000 different iterations of the company name IBM! :shock: As you can imagine, searching is a big challenge for LinkedIn. As I said, the talk was interesting, but at the end the presenter had not talked about MicroStrategy or shown a single product during the entire talk! In fact that was the first question from the audience, “How are you using MicroStrategy in your environment?”

The last session I attended (the aforementioned mobility track) was given by a presenter from Lowes Hardware. Lowes is a big user of MicroStrategy products. (In fact their former CIO is now apparently in charge of the cloud for MicroStrategy.) He was by far the most engaging presenter and he powered through his session even after the failure of the audio equipment in the room. Lowes has purchased over 40,000 iPhones and has apparently bet big on that hardware platform along with the mobile products from MicroStrategy. He gave a great example… every store manager used to spend a few minutes each morning jotting down some notes from a sales report in order to have that information with him or her at any point throughout the day. Just a few minutes a day, but it was something they did essentially every day. The replaced the report delivery (and hand notations) with a mobile app and eliminated those few minutes. It doesn’t sound like much, does it? They estimated that the savings (I assume based on average pay for store managers) at only $6.84. I think I have that number correct, if I’m wrong it’s not by much. When that savings was multiplied by the number of managers across all stores, and then multiplied again by the number of days in a year, the total productivity savings came out to $4.3 million dollars. Per year. Talk about a quick return on investment, yes?

The app was cool, but I wanted to know more about how it was built, what tools were used, and what the process looked like. So far the sessions I’ve attended have been very light on specifics, so I hope I pick better sessions today. Will let you know tomorrow.