We’re used to seeing Microsoft and IBM pushing TV ads that increasingly mainstream the professional use of data management tools and software. Others, like Xerox or Intuit talk about discrete services for document management and some analytic help in the modern working world.

Still, I admit to being a bit surprised to be clicking around cable channels between basketball games over the weekend only to see a slick new Sprint ad prominently featuring BI stalwart MicroStrategy.

I’m not surprised at all to see MicroStrategy (or another mainstream BI provider) mentioned around big customers. Those companies connect me with customers all the time, as I connected with Bruce Yen at Guess? Inc., (an outspoken MicroStrategy customer) last year.

What caught me off guard was a big company like Sprint showing BI tools in a regular Madison Avenue advertising production job. Other vendors should look this smart – and be this fortunate.  

In the commercial, a girl costumed as a tree for her school play chides an unnamed relative for using their limited data to download a BI dashboard application instead of her play. 

“I know, you’re close to your data limit and had to choose,” the little girl says. ”So my play lost out to a MicroStrategy app. I don’t even know what that is.” (This is clever because most people don’t know what a MicroStrategy app is, and might look it up. Those who know get an inside geeky data joke.)

Sprint TV Ad

 


I rang up Warren Getler, MicroStrategy’s VP of Global Corporate Communications, who told me the commercial was all Sprint’s idea and that the company was “obviously very happy” they found MicroStrategy apps compelling to customers.

“It goes along with our own big push to get business software users more engaged in our platform,” he told me.

I already knew that from talking to Bruce Yen at Guess?, who’d shown me how the clothing company had white-labeled unbranded MicroStrategy alerts and displays for style-conscious fashion buyers who don’t want to look at anybody’s BI console. MicroStrategy is more than happy to see their brand not appear.    

This just makes a lot of sense in an increasingly consumer-driven market. Power users aside, the more that BI and data management vendors companies friend-ify their messaging -- as much as they claim they’re trying to simplify and mainstreaming their user interfaces – the faster people will understand what we do for a living and adopt the stuff.

Microstrategy is also working with Apple and its Apple TV and AirPlay device to let people stream what’s on their smartphone or iPad right up onto the boardroom screen without the tangle of wires.

“Here at MicroStrategy we’ve got more than 2,400 iPads deployed across 3,000 employees, Getler said, “and the trick de jour is to run into the conference room and throw something up on the screen from your iPhone or iPad.”

It’s smart strategy to connect consumer preference to the workplace, because in either use, simpler really is smarter.