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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Paul Zolfaghari, President of MicroStrategy (Part 5)

Posted on Wednesday, May 14th 2014

Paul Zolfaghari: What we have been doing as a company is ensuring that the MicroStrategy analytics and visualization layer can be that primary interface, but that where the data resides for us is becoming less and less relevant because we’re ensuring that we can attach and interact with that data wherever it is. What’s happened from a trend standpoint is that the introduction of Hadoop and Hadoop-like vendors has dramatically lowered the cost of storage and storage of data.

What that means is that there is a substantial number of greater applications that can now be developed because the cost of collecting and maintaining data has dropped dramatically. We have been spending a lot of time trying to fill in, from a performance standpoint, the gap that might otherwise exist if the data resides in a Haddop cluster. That’s where we’ve been innovating and delivering to market a product that we call MicroStrategy PRIME, which is an in-memory, caching environment that sits in the MicroStrategy layer between MicroStrategy and the database. The trend that we see is that the cost of storage has gone down. The number of potential applications has gone up.

The other trend that we’re seeing which has been transformational to our business is that mobile technologies and the ability to have information through a mobile device has dramatically increased the opportunities for analytics and reporting because business intelligence and analytics used to be simply in the domain of the headquarters personnel at a major company. What mobile and mobile technologies have done is they have given companies the opportunity to democratize that information and put it in the hands of remote personnel and actually give it to them the moment they need it – when they’re interacting with their customers, partners, or clients in order to make better decisions. Mobile is really transforming the breadth and depth of analytics. It’s passed onto the hands of an entire class of people that five years ago would have never believed that analytics could have driven their decision making.

Let me give you a good example. Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, which uses our cloud, has its customer service personnel are now able to make decisions about what accounts to visit, what to talk about when they visit those accounts, and how to interact with their customers with the help of a mobile tablet device running MicroStrategy. What you have is somebody who used to be just a truck driving delivery person now able to do their job with analytics insight. We see that as a very big trend.

The third trend that we’re seeing a lot of interest in is agile analytics or data discovery. That’s essentially the empowering of business analysts and business users to build, deliver, and take advantage of analytics at the department or individual level and not need the complex requirement of an IT department in order to support them.

Sramana Mitra: If you were to start a company today, where would you focus? What do you see as open problems – things that you’re hearing form customers that you’re not working on from MicroStrategy?

Paul Zolfaghari: We’re beneficiaries of this but I think there’s a very strong movement of moving away from traditional proprietary relational databases and moving to these unstructured data sources. We don’t actually do that. We don’t really have the database itself.

Sramana Mitra: Just yesterday, I just spoke with MongoDB and they’re in that space. That’s not necessarily a virgin territory.

Paul Zolfaghari: No, it’s not a virgin territory.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Paul Zolfaghari, President of MicroStrategy
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