CMOs have been chomping at the bit for a way to access Facebook content. And Gateway for Facebook, a cloud-based service from Microstrategy Inc. might just be the ticket.

Jacquelyn Gavron is a Brooklyn,
NY-based freelancer who specializes in usability and content for mobile and online apps. Previously, she was Content Manager for Citi Mobile and Executive Editor at PC Magazine. She can be reached at

The gateway gets the job done by converting Facebook’s social graph from a file-based system into a relational database structure. This allows CRM and other types of enterprise applications to work with Facebook data, according to Mark LaRow, Senior Vice President, Products, at Microstrategy.

Enterprise applications can also send information back out to Facebook. For example, a phone company could offer a mobile app that synchronizes with Facebook data to keep the contact information for all a user’s Facebook friends up-to-date.

Of course, the Gateway doesn’t have carte blanche access to all of Facebook: It can be used only to access Facebook data for those existing customers who are using your app and who allow you to view their page.

Other features revolve around optimizing performance and ensuring availability. For example, algorithms combine overlapping queries to minimize the impact on the Facebook network. Social data is cached to ensure that it’s available even if Facebook is not. And a self-monitoring feature helps prevent the gateway from exceeding Facebook’s query limits and restricts queries if it nears the limit.

Microstrategy also plans to be “tapping into Google fairly shortly”–presumably via another gateway, according to LaRow. Amazon, too, is likely to be on Microstrategy’s radar.

Microstrategy also announced three other products at its user conference in Monte Carlo this week:

• The MicroStrategy Cloud, a service for running business intelligence (BI), mobile and social applications that can be deployed faster than on-premises BI approaches–within 48 hours according to the company’s press release

• Transaction Services, for building mobile apps that connect to back end transactional systems and databases.

• Alerts for iPhone, a free app that organizes your Facebook newsfeeds by category and which will, according to Microstrategy, evolve into a tool for personalized marketing campaigns.

Pricing for these products was not available, despite repeated inquiries.

However, one attendee at the conference said that their pricing is typically based on which of three user tiers you fall into combined with a fixed price per month for each user. He also advised customers to “haggle with them and try to get the price down 50%.” Maybe customers can use Facebook to share negotiating tips, or perhaps the company can do better at publishing its prices in the future.