Microstrategy rolls out BI app for iPhone, iPad

Customers can try up to 25 licenses at no charge

Microstrategy on Tuesday is announcing a next-generation mobile BI (business intelligence) application for Apple's iPhone and iPad, joining the growing pack of enterprise vendors that are embracing the red-hot platform.

Previously, Microstrategy had focused mobile support on Research In Motion's BlackBerry devices. The new iPhone apps up the ante over "traditional" mobile BI software, which consists of basic reports, grids and graphs, said Mark LaRow, senior vice president of marketing.

The increased processing power afforded by devices like the iPhone means mobile applications can provide many more interactive dashboards and other types of applications that work with data pulled into the local device. This reduces stress on the back-end data warehousing system as well, LaRow said

Microstrategy has sought to make the user experience more streamlined via features like automatic user role identification, auto-location detection through GPS data and a barcode scanning feature that employs the phone's camera.

The applications take an "aesthetically open" approach, with users able to apply "virtually any look and feel," LaRow said.

Microstrategy Mobile pricing ranges from US$550 to $2,000 per user, according to a spokeswoman for the company.

As an enticement, Microstrategy is offering customers 25 perpetual licenses at no charge, with the hopes they will want to buy additional ones. The 25 licenses are not restricted in any way, according to the company.

Microstrategy anticipates that customers will end up creating internal "app factories" enabled by the vendor's mobile framework, said Sanju Bansal, executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Alloso Technologies, which makes specialized software for the hospitality industry, is using Microstrategy's mobile technology in an iPhone application aimed at hotel general managers, said CTO Jon Gorman.

"General managers at hotels are typically not spending their time in front of computers," he said. "We wanted to come out with something more portable."

The application will provide managers with financial information, such as how the business is performing against its budget, or to break down room rates to see which sources customers are coming from, he said.

He praised Apple's approach to iPhone development, saying the substantial periods between OS releases has allowed time for the APIs (application programming interfaces) to stabilize.

In the future, Alloso is looking to develop an iPad application for users "who aren't so mobile," Gorman said.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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