Dashboard Insight recently spoke with Santiago Becerra about his Roambi for iPhone, competing with the big guns in the BI industry - and the role of visualization in the mobile BI world.
Dashboard Insight: Can you tell us about the history of MeLLmo, Inc.?
Santiago Becerra: With today’s technology, display screen real estate is getting smaller and smaller – from laptops to PDAs, to ever-shrinking mobile devices. While the size of our everyday tools is decreasing, the amount of information we view on a regular basis is exponentially increasing. The problem today is how to access large amounts of information effectively on a screen the size of our palm?
MeLLmo was founded in 2008 with one goal in mind: to create revolutionary new ways to access and interact with critical information on small screens. Prior to launching MeLLmo we found that mobile applications were really desktop applications at their core in that they simply shrunk content to fit on a small screen. As a result, accessing information on a mobile device meant looking at inefficient, clunky versions of a desktop experience.
Frustrated with the existing user experience, we set out to rethink, redesign and redefine how individuals view, publish and interact with information via their mobile device. Roambi is the product of our quest and provides an entirely new format for accessing content and empowers users to publish dynamic and interactive information directly to their iPhones.
DI: And you've recently launched your flagship application, Roambi for iPhone; can you tell us more about Roambi and Roambi Server?
SB: Absolutely, we’d be happy to. Roambi for iPhone enables individuals and organizations to transform static information - such as spreadsheets, tables and reports from popular business applications - into stunning interactive visualizations that can be instantly published directly to the iPhone. So users can view, analyze, interact with and share their information. The application, a free download in the iTunes App Store, is easy-to-use and is suitable for anyone trying to view information such as a list of contacts or even a report including charts or metrics. Once users have downloaded the free application, they can visit www.roambi.com and use the free Roambi Publisher to upload tabular or spreadsheet-based information, transform it into dynamic, customizable Roambi visualizations, and deliver them to any iPhone with one click.
Realizing that many organizations have enterprise-wide business intelligence systems and that their mobile workforces could greatly benefit from having access to reports produced by these systems via their mobile devices, we created Roambi ES. The on-premise server empowers mobile workers to publish business information contained in simple spreadsheets or complex business intelligence reports into interactive visualizations that are easy to navigate on the iPhone.
DI: You’re a relatively new company, how do you plan on competing with they key players in the BI industry?
SB: While we launched Roambi in May, our leadership and development teams have a proven track record of entrepreneurial success (some of MeLLmo’s co-founders were the founders of Xcelsius, which was acquired by Business Objects) and hail from companies including Apple, Business Objects, IBM, Oracle and SAP.
Our experience with business intelligence, graphic design, user experience and software development is core to Roambi’s DNA. With Roambi, organizations can extend the value of their mobile and business intelligence investments by providing mobile workers with a powerful and unique business tool. Roambi is not designed to replace business intelligence systems but rather to complement them by enhancing the visualization aspect of these systems for smaller screens.
DI: Security is a very important aspect of any BI application; can you tell us about Roambi’s security features?
SB: Roambi ES mirrors the security features and functions put in place by an enterprise’s IT department.
DI: Is Roambi limited to work with specific business intelligence applications and databases or can it be used with any solution on the market?
SB: Today Roambi ES supports a wide range of reporting and intelligence tools including Microsoft Excel, salesforce.com, SAP Web Intelligence, and SAP Crystal Reports. We plan to expand Roambi ES’s support for additional applications and data sources so that mobile workers can transform additional data into interactive visualizations for their iPhones.
DI: On your website you offer the iPhone App download at no cost, with that in mind what business model are you adopting to generate revenue?
SB: There are three primary distribution channels for Roambi. The Roambi application for iPhone, our flagship product, and Roambi Publisher basic SaaS service are indeed free. The application is available via the iTunes App Store and Roambi Publisher is available via www.roambi.com.
Roambi ES, an on-premise, secure, scalable server is available starting at $10,000 per license and $100 per users for 50+ users. The server allows mobile workforces to publish critical business information to the iPhone from their enterprise systems and then access and analyze data on the go.
Finally, we are exploring relationships with content publishers who want to provide content to their audiences in the Roambi format – this could be anything from a monthly bill to a report on the world’s top companies.
DI: What do you think the future holds for mobile BI applications?
SB: We think the future of mobile BI applications is in visualization. As mobile devices continue to become more ubiquitous, the opportunity for mobile applications is growing exponentially. It is natural that some of these applications will focus on business users and what is important to them: information. Applications that simply shrink information for smaller screens will fail to unlock the true power of viewing, analyzing and interacting with information via a mobile device.
DI: What can we expect to see from MeLLmo in the coming months?
SB: MeLLmo is very focused on providing revolutionary ways to access and interact with critical information on small screens. In the coming months we plan to continue to enhance Roambi by updating it to take advantage of new features available with the iPhone OS 3.0, adding support for more third-party data sources, and developing additional Views.
Santiago Becerra, Sr.
Santiago brings more than 20 years of experience in the software industry and product development to MeLLmo. A Harvard MBA, and former Booz Allen & Hamilton management consultant, Santiago is a successful entrepreneur with a proven track record in the software industry. He founded Infommersion, creator of Xcelsius, in 2002, which he later sold to Business Objects in 2005. Santiago was also the founder and CEO of Graphical Information Inc., a software company that he sold to Oracle Corporation in 1998. Both acquisitions resulted in the successful integrations of the products into the acquirers' business applications. With the launch of MeLLmo, Santiago seeks to define the future of information interaction, reinventing the way individuals access, process and utilize information on a mobile device.