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Mobile BI strategy showcases ways IT can benefit the business

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Business intelligence (BI) accessibility on mobile devices is truly coming into its own. Having access to data the business needs anytime, anywhere is becoming less a "nice thing to have" and more a necessary competitive enabler.

At OFS Brands, a national supplier of contract furniture based in Huntingburg, Ind., Application Manager Tim Hopper knows well the need for mobile BI and its benefits. He's deployed WebFOCUS, a mobile BI product from Information Builders Inc. to the company's internal sales team; soon it will be in the hands of manufacturing and transportation group users. Here, he discusses the impetus for his company's move to mobile BI, the positives and challenges and why he thinks it's a "game-changer."

SearchCIO.com: What prompted you to pursue a mobile BI strategy?

Hopper: We wanted to make it easier for our sales force to assess critical sales data in a timely manner. Our sales force is mobile and exclusively uses iPads and iPhones. To simplify our self-service reporting initiative, we determined whatever solution we chose had to be mobile. The choice to go to WebFOCUS was based on a review of vendors against established criteria focused around functionality, ease of use and maintenance. What were you doing before you implemented mobile BI software, and how is it better now?

We were just emailing generated reports. This is a better solution because it allows users to answer questions a lot easier than they could with a canned report sent to them in an email. They can ask the question, "What were sales like in this territory last month for this series?" -- or many variations of that. Before, they could only answer what the reports showed them.

The user feedback has been exceptional.

Most of the time, if they wanted to ask more specific questions, they had to ask development for a report showing them the information they wanted. This new solution lets them answer questions quickly. Since they can get answers quickly, they ask a lot more questions than before. We have a guided dashboard. The default tool setting shows everything, but users [can] pick different parameters and filter data down. The entire dashboard updates as they choose to apply different filters. This allows them to get down to specific questions they are trying to answer very quickly.

For the full interview, please click here.

Credit: SearchCIO.

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