From: Linda (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri Jul 14 2000 - 22:58:14 PDT
MicroStrategy: Business gets personal
Analytical engine enables businesses to
send targeted data to cell phones
July 10, 2000 12:00 AM ET
MicroStrategy Inc. started out as a developer of
business intelligence applications for large corporations
that wanted to understand the information in customer
databases. Along the way, the Vienna, Va., company
and its founder and CEO, Michael Saylor, realized that
decision makers at the top of the company are not the
only people who want timely reports and summaries of
the information swirling around them. So, last year,
MicroStrategy launched a service, called Strategy.com,
that sends news, weather and other information to
consumers via pager, fax, wireless phone or land line.
Later this year, MicroStrategy will expand the
syndicated services offerings to add wireless
transactional capabilities. Recently, Saylor sat down
with eWeek Department Editor John S. McCright to
discuss the new MicroStrategy 7 business intelligence
platform, which is the basis for those services, and the
challenges of personalizing data for individual
eWeek: What makes MicroStrategy 7 unique?
Saylor: It is architected so you can plug it into a
massively parallel, mission-critical infrastructure; that
allows you to plug into a transactional retail database
that could hold terabytes [of data]. Then you can build
analyses [that] answer any question using statistics,
correlations, forecasts. ... It could calculate
[refinancing] or bond yields.
eWeek: What are the target applications for the
Saylor: There are three target [markets]: the
enterprise, ... B2B [business-to-business] and B2C
eWeek: Are those applications sent over a handheld?
Saylor: They send it over every device. You'll see us
deploying later this year, in our Strategy.com business,
a credit card application that dynamically looks at the
interest rate for consumer debt of every member of the
database, and then it informs them that they can
refinance to achieve a certain rate, taking into account
all the costs of the transaction.
eWeek: Who will offer that?
Saylor: Strategy.com is syndicated through The Wall
Street Journal, The Washington Post, Ameritrade,
EarthLink. We have 170 affiliates.
eWeek: How is Strategy.com going?
Saylor: It's going pretty well. In the last eight months
we've gone from about zero users to nearly 400,000,
and we expect to be at 1.5 million users by the end of
the year. We just signed a major deal with Deutsche
Bank [AG] to provide them with all of the financial
wireless programming for the European launch of their
eWeek: Will the service mostly be used for finance?
Saylor: The first application was finance, and the
majority of the users are around finance. But we have
also rolled out a personal weather and a personal news
channel. The personal weather channel will keep track
of your favorite location, and you can say if it gets
above 80 degrees, that's hot, and if it goes below 30,
that's cold. You can set it to ring your phone if there is
a tornado warning. The personal news is, you'll be able
to put in your own criteria and use keywords, and then
you can direct those messages to go to your cell
eWeek: How big a concern is security of wireless
transactions for your users?
Saylor: We haven't had any pushback or concern
about security yet. We use encryption on both
ends—at the browser and at the server.
We're going to deploy some transaction services, like
an agnostic brokerage service, later this year, which
would allow you to register your electronic brokerages,
and then it would consolidate that information for you,
analyze it and trigger a message whenever you hit a
certain financial threshold. And at that point we'll be
doing actual transactions over wireless.
eWeek: What is holding back the broader adoption of
Saylor: I think the main thing right now impeding the
growth of wireless transaction is programming. If you
are holding a cell phone in your hand, you don't want to
have to click 40 times to complete a transaction. You
want it tee'd up.
eWeek: How can it be personalized?
Saylor: Wireless is going to be great for really
personalized folders. Our wireless portal has five
different subjects. With shopping, you can imagine it
might be: Here are my favorite 10 authors, 10
musicians, 10 events. And then this system in near-real
time every minute is sifting and pulling to the surface
the top five jazz festivals in San Francisco ... and when
I come back, it will repopulate differently.
In terms of being spoon-fed stuff that is personalized to
me, this is a great device. In terms of entertaining me
and letting me browse, this is a horrible device. This is
great for telling me my plane is canceled. If they call
me up and interrupt me, that is an example where
you're going to pick up a big transaction.
eWeek: What's up with your partnership with NCR
Saylor: One thing coming out of that is, the next
version of our Strategy.com network is going to have
NCR at the core of it, and we're scaling that system to
support 10 [million] to 20 million users.
eWeek: When's the next version of Strategy.com due?
Saylor: It will be upgraded late in the third quarter.
We're going to roll out something called the
Communities Channel. Our software would allow a high
school principal to say school is canceled, hit a button,
and 98 telephones all ring and [the students] get a
synthesized voice message that school is canceled.
Our goal with Strategy.com is, we want to get to the
point where we can consolidate people's banking, debt
and equity assets and get to a relationship of trust with
them whereby we're suggesting they could move their
checking to a savings account for a higher yield.
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