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Intelligence on the Go
Mobile Delivery of BI

by Scott Vaughan, VP, Marketing, InformationWeek Business Technology NetworkMonday, June 30, 2008

Many BI vendors now offer modules that let you deliver just about any report to smart phones, but as a major retailer, a health care provider and a major government agency have discovered, practical, tactical wins are the key to mobile success.

By Doug Henschen
May 19, 2008

From the highest executive ranks to field sales and service people, today's knowledge workers are roaming far from their desktops. In fact, there are more than 800 million mobile workers worldwide today (more than five times larger than the entire US workforce), and that figure is expected to reach 1 billion by 2010, according to IDC.

The question is, can all those employees be as connected, well-informed and productive while away from the office as they are when seated in front of a desktop computer? As far as business intelligence software providers are concerned, the answer is a resounding "yes," but they're not banking on all those workers toting around laptops. "Smart phones" are already the business platform of choice for road warriors, and given current replacement cycles and advances in technology, it won't be long before these, e-mail-, Web- and compute-capable devices become a ubiquitous business tool.

"Within a couple of years, nearly 100 percent of mobile phones will support Web browsers and they'll be that much more powerful," says Gerald Cohen, CEO of BI vendor Information Builders Inc. "Users will be able to do anything they want on these devices as they're travelling, and that's definitely going to have an impact in ways that we can't even envision."

Five Leading Mobile BI Options

Vendor Product Platform Support
Business Objects, an SAP Company Business Objects Mobile Blackberry, Windows, Symbian
Cognos, an IBM Company IBM Cognos Go! Mobile Blackberry, Windows, Symbian
Information Builders IB Mobile Favorites Any device with mobile browser
Microsoft Windows Server/Mobile Windows
Microstrategy Microstrategy Mobile Blackberry

Even today, many leading BI vendors offer modules (see table above) that make routine reports, alerts and KPIs accessible through mobile phones and PDAs. Early adopters Nygard (a Canadian clothier), CRC Health Group (a behavioral health care company), and NASA's Kennedy Space Center have discovered that there are huge efficiencies to be gained by delivering BI in mobile fashion. But as their stories also suggest, the real payoff is in delivering actionable intelligence. In other words, successful mobile BI is more likely to be operational BI, not conventional reporting delivered on a diminutive device.

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