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MicroStrategy's latest delivers embedded AI-powered insights

The longtime independent analytics vendor's new platform update combines embedded BI with generative AI to deliver AI-powered insights to users within the flow of their work.

MicroStrategy on Thursday launched new generative AI capabilities that enable customers to embed AI-powered insights within employee workflows.

The vendor first introduced HyperIntelligence, a zero-click embedded analytics tool that delivers BI insights to users while they work, in 2019. Five years later in March 2024, MicroStrategy unveiled Auto, an embeddable generative AI-powered bot that enables natural language interactions with data within any application.

The new AI-powered insights -- part of the latest MicroStrategy One release -- combine HyperIntelligence and Auto. Together, they enable users to dig deeper into the insights they receive from HyperIntelligence by using the generative AI capabilities of Auto.

Given that MicroStrategy had both HyperIntelligence and Auto existing separately within its platform, combining the two was logical, according to Doug Henschen, an analyst at Constellation Research.

"Bringing the two technologies together is an obvious next step," he said. "The Auto GenAI technology simplifies the delivery of natural language capabilities by reducing -- if not eliminating -- all the language-curation steps and admin tasks that used to be required."

Based in Tysons Corner, Va., MicroStrategy is a longtime independent analytics vendor that like many of its peers has recently made generative AI a focal point of product development.

The vendor launched its first set of generative AI capabilities in October 2023, including natural language query and explanation as well as natural language generation of code to create data tables and work within databases. That was followed by the March release of Auto, extending MicroStrategy's generative AI capabilities beyond the BI environment and making them embeddable.

All the generative AI capabilities that MicroStrategy has unveiled so far, including the new AI-powered insights, are generally available, which differentiates the vendor from some of its peers.

While other vendors such as Qlik, Tableau and ThoughtSpot have similarly introduced generative AI capabilities, all were in some stage of preview when the vendors first revealed them. Some tools competitors have unveiled remain in preview, but many others such as Tableau's Pulse and Domo's AI Model Management are now generally available.

However, even though some generative AI tools are generally available, they are still so new that adoption is limited. No vendors have yet gained a significant competitive advantage, according to Henschen.

"There's the vendor bragging-rights horse race, in which MicroStrategy is among a set of leaders," Henschen said. "But what really matters is customer adoption and customers finding value in the capabilities. I think we're still in the early stages of customer adoption."

A circular graph showing the top seven benefits of generative AI for businesses.
Enterprises might receive these seven benefits when using generative AI.

New capabilities

Analytics use within organizations has long been largely the domain of trained data experts with studies finding that only about one-quarter to one-third of employees analyze data as part of their jobs.

The main reason is that analytics and data management platforms are difficult to use given that code is required to execute most tasks and data literacy training is needed to interpret reports, dashboards, models and other data products.

Two methods of expanding analytics to more potential users are embedded BI and natural language processing (NLP).

Embedded BI delivers data to users within their workflows, saving them from having to toggle between a BI platform and their work applications as well as reducing the need-to-know code by delivering relevant data directly to them. NLP, meanwhile, enables the use of natural language rather than code to interact with data.

Both, however, have drawbacks that prevent them from making analytics available to virtually anyone within an organization. The NLP tools developed by data management and analytics vendors have limited vocabularies, so they don't enable true natural language interactions while embedded BI still requires data literacy training.

Generative AI changes that by enabling true natural language interactions combined with the ability to interpret intent. As a result, generative AI has been the dominant trend in data management and analytics for well over a year with many vendors developing tools that enable use of generative AI with proprietary data.

However, most of the generative AI tools being developed by data management and analytics vendors are only usable within data management and BI environments. They are not embeddable.

MicroStrategy first combined generative AI and embedded BI with the launch of its Auto bot. Now it is adding insight delivery to that embedded generative AI.

HyperIntelligence uses Hyper Cards to deliver contextual insights to users as they work. Hyper Cards are information boxes that pop up as users hover over text.

For example, when corresponding with a customer via email or a platform such as Slack or Microsoft Teams, a user can hover over the customer's name to get information about them and their past interactions.

Now, beyond getting just a set of facts in a Hyper Card, users can interact with the Card. They can ask it questions, then dig deeper by asking follow-up questions to gain greater insight into information.

"We've injected AI into HyperIntelligence," said Saurabh Abhyankar, MicroStrategy's chief product officer. "Now, Hyperintelligence isn't just instant and contextual and there when you need it in the application you're using. In addition to that straightforward set of information, you now have a full AI bot behind the scenes."

One example showing how an enterprise might use the combination of HyperIntelligence and Auto is marketing lead generation, according to Abhyankar.

By hovering over a customer's name in Salesforce and getting information from Marketo about past leads for that customer with a Hyper Card, a user can now ask what marketing campaigns the leads came from and who the primary contacts are for those leads. They can then follow up with those contacts to potentially generate new sales relationships.

"The baseline value proposition is that it saves time and effort," Abhyankar said, noting that time savings could equate to a few thousand dollars per user over the course of a year. "But then there's upside -- value generation -- that's harder to quantify … but could be pretty significant."

Given its potential to deliver insights in the context of a user's work, the combination of HyperIntelligence and Auto is useful, according to Mike Leone, an analyst at TechTarget's Enterprise Strategy Group.

"What will resonate most with customers is the contextual delivery of insights -- that's the key here," he said. "We're seeing virtually every analytics vendor deliver some form of a GenAI chatbot. But many lack the customization and personalization that's necessary to quickly get at the insights that matter most to an individual user."

Also key is that the insights will be delivered without users having to switch between applications, Leone continued.

"The delivery mechanism with which MicroStrategy will be delivering it … is valuable," he said. "The goal here is to eliminate that multi-step back and forth we're seeing with many of these embedded chat tools and deliver a shortcut to the insights that people want most."

There's the vendor bragging-rights horse race, in which MicroStrategy is among a set of leaders. But what really matters is customer adoption and customers finding value in the capabilities. I think we're still in the early stages of customer adoption.
Doug HenschenAnalyst, Constellation Research

While beneficial to MicroStrategy customers and a logical combination of two existing capabilities, the delivery of AI-powered insights through Hyper Cards is not for all MicroStrategy users, according to Henschen.

HyperIntelligence is a browser-based hyperlinking system that requires browser plugins, he noted. That combination can lead organizations dealing with sensitive information that must be kept secure to avoid using the feature. In addition, HyperIntelligence requires setting up Hyper Cards. Though a simple, no-code process, this can result in some organizations electing other means of delivering data to end users.

"Some customers just stick with conventional dashboards, data visualizations and data stories," Henschen said.

In addition to AI-powered insights in HyperIntelligence, the latest MicroStrategy One release includes improvements to the vendor's semantic network aimed at helping Auto better understand individual organizations; a button that enables users to give feedback about generative AI responses so Auto can learn; and improvements to core capabilities, such as filtering and its Microsoft Office integration.

Going forward

MicroStrategy's impetus for adding Auto's generative AI capabilities to HyperIntelligence came, in part, from customers requesting the blending of the two along with MicroStrategy's recognition that users didn't need yet another separate feature, according to Abhyankar.

"Nobody needs another app," he said. "Nobody needs another destination to go to. They're already overwhelmed."

Most generative AI tools, to date, are another environment that users need to visit. MicroStrategy is aiming to bring generative AI to its customers where they do the bulk of their work. Adding Auto's capabilities to HyperIntelligence is one way to do that. More ways are part of the vendor's roadmap.

"In the next 12 months, you're going to see us invest heavily in the concept of analytics coming to the user in context when it's needed and then get out of the way," Abhyankar said. "It's not a thing you should have to go to."

Regarding generative AI, Auto-fueled data modeling is under development, he continued. Beyond generative AI, MicroStrategy's product development plans include improving MicroStrategy One's interoperability with other data platforms, providing more deployment choices for its cloud-based platform and doing more to deliver data to frontline workers.

"We really see [empowering frontline workers] as a real opportunity," Abhyankar said. "We see that as an untapped market."

Eric Avidon is a senior news writer for TechTarget Editorial and a journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He covers analytics and data management.

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