Mobile business intelligence is becoming a leading trend within the BI market. Over the past several years solution providers have placed a lot of effort into developing interactive mobile applications that can be used by decision makers on the road. Although it has been a slow road to broad adoption, mobile BI is finally starting to make inroads into the general business intelligence marketplace.
Mobile BI represents a single trend within business intelligence. Within mobile BI, however, many trends are emerging that affect overall adoption and use. With technology advancements and widespread adoption of Androids, iPhones, tablets and iPads, vendors are able to provide BI offerings that allow companies to provide enhanced analytics and information access.
This article looks at some of the trends related to mobile business intelligence expansion and adoption as well as how BI vendors are meeting end user needs. In addition, the cross over between vendor offerings and the adoption of BI on tablets will be discussed. Finally, considerations based on trends will be examined to help organizations identify how they can apply mobile BI.
Mobile BI Market Expansion
The business intelligence market has been slowly expanding to include mobile adoption for some time. After years of access to PDF reports followed by the availability of interactive dashboards and parameterized reports, businesses are now looking to deploy mobile BI as a key element of their business intelligence environment. This means that mobile offerings have finally reached the point where they can meet the diverse needs of BI users in terms of interaction and ease of use. In addition, with tablet and iPad adoption, mobile BI is slowly becoming the first choice of business intelligence users. Not only do people enjoy interacting with mobile devices, they enable continual access to information and potential collaboration. Because so many BI vendors are placing most of their development efforts on expanding mobile business intelligence, organizations will slowly shift their adoption towards mobile versus in-house static implementations.
How Vendors are Delivering Mobile BI
With vendor focus shifting towards mobile BI offerings that meet business needs and offer high levels of interactivity, self-service models are also becoming more important. Mobile business intelligence requires ease of use and full spectrum BI applications that provide end users with autonomy. Vendors are meeting these needs by developing interactive dashboards that give the same features and functionality as Web-based or desktop alternatives. As expansions occur within the market, these solutions will become standard and centralized so that mobile BI will be one access point, independent of medium. What this means is that organizations will no longer be required to choose whether they want on-premise BI or a mobile offering. Instead, software providers will offer a single solution choice that includes various options, along with more real-time, in-memory, and advanced analytics access.
Although vendors are at the beginning of the mobile deployment and adoption lifecycle, more advanced solutions will continue to flood the marketplace to meet the rising demands of organizations and employees who take their work on the road. This requires continued growth in mobile application development and analytics integration into operations so that companies can get a full view of what is occurring within their business.
iPad and Tablet Mobile Devices
In addition to mobile phones, companies are integrating mobile business intelligence into their overall BI use via iPads and tablets. As more tablets become available, adoption will widen and solution providers will be required to develop applications that integrate with varying platforms. With iPad being the first out of the gate, it stands to reason that they will remain ahead of the curve in the short term, with Microsoft as a potential contender when they release their tablet version. Other competitors do exist, but their potential to create a stir in the market is limited by compatibility with BI applications and general adoption. As tablet use increases, BI adoption is more likely to expand within organizations as usage patterns expand to more employees.
Better Sales Analysis and Visibility
Aside from overall use, trends exist within applications of mobile BI. Sales analysis has always been at the forefront of BI adoption. In traditional or SaaS-based offerings, sales analytics remains a key way by which businesses identify the success or failure of their performance. This provides the basis for more in-depth analysis in relation to customers, suppliers, product movement, and industry trends. Consequently, the new ability of sales managers and others involved in partner or supply chain management to bring BI with them means they no longer need to download reports or refer to out-of-date data. This results in more opportunities in relation to performance and business relationships. Even though this may have existed in the form of blackberries and the like, the amount of interaction and full scale functionality was not previously available.
Mobile Business Intelligence Considerations
Mobile business intelligence will continue to expand, and will become comparable to on-premise offerings. Once end users can access query results with the same speed and agility as traditional offerings, momentum will increase even further. For organizations thinking of taking the plunge, looking beyond cool technology becomes essential. Some considerations before adopting mobile BI include:
- Purpose of use: the business purpose behind BI adoption
- Data latency and information access: when do decision makers need information and how often?
- End user BI knowledge: level of proficiency in BI and technology use
- Practicality: what technology do employees use and interact with to get their job done?
- Total cost of ownership: does mobile access really pay in the long run in relation to hardware, software, and implementation costs?
- Collaboration: how do end users interact with each other, and will mobile adoption increase overall collaboration?
These are just some considerations, but they are sufficient to get the conversation started about whether mobile business intelligence fits an organization’s BI deployment model and overall performance management goals.
About the Author
Lyndsay Wise is an industry analyst for business intelligence. For over seven years, she has assisted clients in business systems analysis, software selection and implementation of enterprise applications. Lyndsay is the channel expert for BI for the Mid-Market at B-eye-Network and conducts research of leading technologies, products and vendors in business intelligence, marketing performance management, master data management, and unstructured data. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. And please visit Lyndsay's blog at myblog.wiseanalytics.com.
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