Dashboard Insight recently spoke with ComponentOne's Chris Meredith about his various mobile BI solutions, security options - and where he expects the mobile platform to be in the next few years.
Dashboard Insight: You offer two varieties of mobile BI solutions; tell us about ComponentOne Studio® for Mobile and ComponentOne Studio® for iPhone.
Chris Meredith: ComponentOne Studio® for Mobile is a suite of four development controls including Chart, FlexGrid, Masked TextBox, and Zip to build Microsoft .NET Compact framework-based applications. These tools allow you to rapidly develop applications on devices such as personal digital assistants (PDAs), mobile phones and more.
ComponentOne Studio® for iPhone is a unique suite of controls. While it is targeted towards the iPhone, it is built on the ASP.NET framework. The controls are designed specifically to be rendered in Mobile Safari and give you the same UX as the iPhone. Even though an end user is browsing a web page, the user experience will be exactly like that of an iPhone application. This design allows developers to deliver applications to the constantly expanding mobile cliental while working in the familiar ASP.NET environment.
DI: Security is a very important aspect of any BI application, what type of security options do you offer with both ComponentOne Studio® for Mobile and ComponentOne Studio® for iPhone in terms of loss or theft?
CM: While security should be major concern among all application developers, there is an extra element to mobile security. The nature of mobile technology makes it much more susceptible to theft or loss. Our controls are designed following all of Microsoft’s best practices and policies regarding security (passwords, encryption, permissions and so on). As long as best practices are followed when using our mobile software, end users will have few worries about sensitive data being compromised in the case of a lost or stolen device.
DI: Mobile technology is constantly changing, how does ComponentOne plan on continuing to meet BI and reporting requirements, even as devices and browsers change?
CM: Technology as a whole is constantly changing and ComponentOne has a proven track record of staying in step with these changes. Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Silverlight are two examples of ComponentOne adapting to change. We had compatible products available as soon as these technologies were released to the public and will follow this same trend for any new mobile technologies.
DI: In your opinion, where is mobile BI headed? Where will we be in 3-5 years?
CM: At this time, mobile BI seems to be viewed as a complement. Most BI applications are still being designed with the idea that the person using them will be sitting at a desk with a mouse and keyboard. If it happens to work in the mobile environment, then that’s great. If time permits, perhaps a stripped-down version that’s designed for mobile applications will be made. However, with the spike in smart phone usage such as the iPhone and Blackberry over the last few years - and corporations directing more resources toward mobile technology such as Google Android - we expect this trend to shift. Over the next few years, we expect the mobile platform to be on par with desktop and web as developers consider which platform to create BI solutions for.
DI: In our current economy with constrained budgets, what would you say to someone who questions the value of investing in mobile BI technology like ComponentOne Studio® for Mobile and iPhone?
CM: Return on investment with our controls can generally be measured in a single development cycle; customers who use our controls have seen weeks and even months shaved from their development cycles. This reduction in man hours alone more than justifies the initial investment - not to mention the benefits associated with getting BI applications to production so much faster.
DI: What is the process if someone wants to evaluate your solutions?
CM: All of our controls have 30-day, full-featured trials that can be downloaded from our website at www.componentone.com. The evaluation versions have all of the functionality of our licensed controls and include help, tutorials and samples to get you started.
DI: What can we expect to see from ComponentOne in the coming months?
CM: At ComponentOne, we are constantly adding to our award-winning offerings and the next few months are no exception. Microsoft is expected to soon release a new version of Visual Studio, Office, and a new operating system and we will be focused on making sure that we are compliant with all this new technology. Additionally, we have many new controls and enhancements planned for our WPF, Silverlight, SharePoint, and iPhone offerings. If you are looking for controls to enhance your mobile BI applications or just looking to see what we all offer, I invite you take a look at our website: http://www.componentone.com
Chris Meredith manages all aspects of ComponentOne’s development tool product line in his role as project manager. During his tenure with ComponentOne, he has worked in IT, customer engagement and sales. Chris is a well-traveled speaker and is known for his technical presentations on topics such as Microsoft Silverlight, ASP.NET and Windows Forms. Chris is an author of many white papers, which provide Microsoft Visual Studio developers solutions through the use of third-party controls.