MicroStrategy Broadcasts Data With Personal Touch

The reality of most data warehousing solutions deployed within many corporations is often far removed from the promise and potential such vast data stores hold. Corporations have invested much of their resources in building a data warehouse, only to face difficulties in ensuring that valuable information gets to those who need to see it.

Typically, users requiring information from a data warehouse must sit at their desktops and sift through vast amounts of information to find what they need. Realizing that this is not the most efficient way to tap a data warehouse, MicroStrategy Inc. (Vienna, Va., www.strategy.com) has introduced Decision Support System (DSS) Broadcaster, an information broadcast server that delivers user-specific business analysis to end users.

"DSS Broadcaster finds the answers to business questions and then ensures that the right person gets this information at the right time," says Michael J. Saylor, MicroStrategy president and CEO.

DSS Broadcaster, which is tightly integrated into MicroStrategy's DSS product suite, can send personalized messages to thousands of recipients by e-mail, fax, pager or mobile phone. The product leverages MicroStrategy's ROLAP technology to enable information to be broadcast to users from numerous supported databases, including Oracle, Informix, Tandem, DB2, Sybase and Microsoft SQL Server. An "intelligent" content generator takes data from databases and converts it into plain English sentences for message transmission.

For greater flexibility, DSS Broadcaster can merge information from multiple databases into a single broadcast. The product can also take reports from multiple databases and embed them together into a single Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, which can be sent as an e-mail attachment. In addition, each e-mail message can include embedded hyperlinks that link to MicroStrategy's DSS Web product, enabling users to access pertinent live data via a Web browser.

DSS Broadcaster users can automate message delivery via recurring schedules and alert triggers. For example, a developer can set up a service that will alert salespeople when their sales are below a certain target. The developer can also customize this service so that each individual salesperson receives only the information he or she requires, such as sales figures for the individual territories, via a personalization engine that customizes the content for each individual recipient.

DSS Broadcaster developers can also set up both static lists, which specify a group of subscribers, and dynamic lists, which are generated on-the-fly on the basis of data in the data warehouse. A static list might contain the entire corporate sales force; a dynamic list might include all of those salespeople who have closed over a million dollars in sales. By tying these distribution lists together with a schedule, corporations can, for example, deliver weekly sales reports to their entire sales force.

Managing services, schedules and users is facilitated via the DSS Broadcaster administration console. Administrators can use the administration console to implement and execute enterprisewide broadcast deployments.

"DSS Broadcaster will save our sales representatives and regional managers a tremendous amount of time gathering and interpreting information," says Seth Samuels, software developer with Koch Industries Inc. subsidiary Koch Materials (Wichita, Kan.), a road and construction materials vendor.

Koch Materials' IT department is considering implementing DSS Broadcaster to distribute data and business information to users from a large data warehouse filled with shipping, billing and transaction data. "By enabling users to subscribe to and receive personalized reports via e-mail or pager, employees will have exactly the information they need right at their fingertips," explains Samuels.

According to Teresa Wingfield, senior industry analyst with the Giga Group (Santa Clara, Calif.), MicroStrategy is capitalizing on two trends with DSS Broadcaster: "Data warehouses are doubling in size, while the number of decision makers who want to tap into the warehouse is on the rise as well," she explains. "DSS Broadcaster rides the waves of both trends with wide-scale distribution or real-time personalized messages."