What does your organization need to consider when adopting a mobile business intelligence (BI) or business analytics strategy? What are the enablers, challenges, and opportunities of a mobile BI strategy implementation? In this report, we explore considerations for deploying a mobile BI solution, how to leverage this type of platform to best advantage, and why a mobile BI/analytics solution can be a valuable asset for your company.
Mobile Technologies on the Rise
While mobile technologies are no longer new, it’s not until recently that mobile hype has hit the business intelligence (BI) space with enough power to become a game changer—and perhaps even the basis for a new paradigm for BI, business performance management, and business analysis.
While earlier mobile-based applications were consumer-focused and used for basic tasks such as personal reminders or grocery lists, a new generation of applications expanded this horizon by providing an improved user experience, paving the way for the use of mobile devices to track and manage everything from personal mails to purchase orders and support requests.
It took more time for mobile technologies to make the jump from operational and tactical business functions to decision making and strategic areas, where the core of BI resides. Only in the last three or four years have mobile BI applications gained traction in the business space, with reliable BI functions and features (e.g., data visualization and analytics) providing the means to display charts and graphs as well as adapted dashboards.
Organizations have started to see the benefits of providing decision-making teams—no matter where they are located—with the ability to make proactive decisions based on insight derived from their source BI systems. With the emergence of tablets and mobile devices with more visual real estate, the strength of mobile BI technology is translating into increased business adoption, due particularly to their capacity to provide strong and clear data visualization in the form of charts and graphs as well as dashboards and scorecards.
Mobile is no longer optional. It is a new way of doing—and thinking about—business. Corporate mobility is reaching a point where people from all levels of the organization use mobile devices for personal and corporate use. They are collaborating, they are sharing information, and most importantly, they are gaining access to customized data analysis from their mobile device, no matter what its type, shape, or size.
Mobile BI and Its Role in the BI Information Cycle
Some of the enablers for business adoption of mobile BI technology derive from changes to the nature of decision making itself over time:
Corporate executives have increased their mobility due to dramatic changes in the way processes and data are shared within organizations, including the decentralization of corporate offices and leadership among different local and global locations.
Joint efforts between multicultural and multidisciplinary groups for improved decision making are more pervasive.
With high-mobility information workers and decision makers becoming the norm, many companies are implementing specific mobile BI initiatives, in order to provide their employees with the ability to retrieve vital information at almost any location. This dramatically changes not only the way information workers collect and visualize information, but also how they analyze data for decision-making purposes.
Today’s business models are more apt to rely on mobile services—both from a technical perspective (by promoting and requiring more mobility from information workers, along with anytimeanywhere availability) and from a human resources perspective (by providing a mobile corporate culture through mobile e-mail access, and access to other types of mobile applications).
So, what are the practical—and realistic—benefits of mobile BI?
Mobile BI solutions have the potential to provide information workers with the ability to analyze data, search for content, receive alerts, or simply consult metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) on their mobile devices. Location is no longer a constraint on information or even action, particularly in the case of real-time information delivery, The practical benefits:
24/7 availability of critical data, and
effective alerts and messaging.
BI solutions are increasingly device-independent and user-customizable. This means that some data consumers will gain by using a simpler and more straightforward mobile device, while others with a need for more data-intensive BI applications will be able to use mobile BI services as a companion to regular desktop BI applications, The practical benefits:
personalized configuration to consume information as needed by users;
intelligent delivery of information based on profile and preferences (location, position, etc.); and
the ability to configure alerts and messaging features according to user/group needs.
Location independency and application integration can provide mobile BI users with the ability to collaborate with their peers by combining mobile BI functionality with simple services like text messaging, as well as with more complex collaboration tools such as internal or public collaboration applications for sharing rich content (e.g., voice, images, and text). The practical benefits:
the ability to enable comments and share text messages along with and about data, and
the ability to leverage pre-existing security to ensure reliable and secure information communication.
Certainly, mobile BI solutions have the power to not only improve and speed the decision-making cycle, but also to enable decision democracy and better-informed decisions, especially under conditions of extreme business pressures and time sensitivity. Organizations need to assure return on investment (ROI) by making best use of it as well as by integrating it with the pre-existing infrastructure, thereby creating more value with less effort.