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July 27, 2011

MicroStrategy readies social network assault

At least three new apps on their way this summer

By Jason Stamper

Business intelligence firm MicroStrategy is planning a big push into the social network space, with at least three new applications likely to help users and corporates more easily monitor, interact and analyse activity on social networks, CBR has learned.

Michael Saylor, MicroStrategy
MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor

The firm dipped a toe in the social network space recently with the launch of Wisdom, a consumer-oriented application that helps users make better sense of their Facebook networks. But speaking to CBR, MicroStrategy president, chairman and CEO Michael Saylor said that at least three new applications – Alert, Emma and Usher – will be launched any day now.

While Saylor would not be drawn on the details until closer to the launch, he told us that these new applications could help corporates or end users better understand and analyse activity on social networks such as Facebook or Twitter.

"We’ve created an application development division to create applications that integrate the social networks and the cloud networks back into our customers’ applications and also our own, like Wisdom. There are three more coming this summer – Usher, Alert and Immer," he said. The firm has registered the relevant domain names in preparation for the launch, CBR can reveal.

Saylor believes that there are three "tsunamis" impacting almost every area of corporate and consumer IT: mobile networks, cloud networks and social networks.

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"If you try to abstract what they really mean in conceptual terms, the mobile transformation is the migration of client software activity from the desktop into the mobile device," Saylor said. "That’s a migration of from 50% to 90- or even 95% of what you do. People who used to run Google queries on the desktop often almost never run a Google query on the desktop, they run it on their mobile, and it’s amazing how good it is. If you look out a few more years there really isn’t a desktop Google left."

He continued: "The significance of the cloud network tsunami is that we’re seeing incredible, almost unlimited computing power being unleashed into the cloud where it can be accessed on demand in real time, in an ad hoc fashion by any random person. Another way to say that is that the locus of server-side processing is moving out of the data centre out into the cloud where you can bring it to bear for a variety of tasks that weren’t structured before."

"The social network is significant because Facebook is now the most powerful customer database in the history of the world," Saylor said. "And it’s such a good database that it’s obsolesced thousands of customer databases that we built back in the Nineties and over the past decade. When you combine that with the other thing that social networks have which is this trust or social graph, we now can give you a message and you can give that message to a hundred of your friends who will trust it, give it to a hundred of their friends and so on."

Describing MicroStrategy’s response to these three trends, Saylor said the firm has, "push[ed] the accelerator to the floor. We’ve aggressively increased our software development rate. We’ve created a Cloud Intelligence division and we hired the former CIO of Lowes Hardware, a $50 billion company, to go ahead and put in place our own backbone. We want to make sure that when four intelligent guys create the next application to help you choose your doctor, or choose where you’re going to go or how you’re going to live, they can deploy it out to one hundred thousand people or a million people without having to establish a 100-person IT department."

"We want to unleash creativity and innovation at a more rapid rate within our ecosystem," he said.

A longer version of CBR’s interview with Michael Saylor will appear in the July-August issue of CBR and on CBROnline shortly after.

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