BI applications aim to provide users with the technology, analytics, and user experience features needed to improve the organization’s decision-making process, and many providers now offer mobile BI software features. This report is intended to guide you through the evolution of a number of mobile BI applications as well as to provide you with an analysis of information gathered from both the mobile BI vendor and user communities in your exploration of the mobile BI marketplace.
Mobile technologies are here to stay. Since their inception in the 1970s, mobile technologies have changed the way we live our lives. Nowadays it’s hard to imagine a world without any type of mobile device at the beck and call of its user. Originally designed for one purpose—to send and receive voice calls—mobile devices have expanded in reach, and are now capable of performing a wide variety of tasks. By sharing voice, images, and data, mobile devices affect nearly everything we do: they way we communicate—via phone calls, text messages, and e-mail; the way we entertain ourselves—via online games and social media; and the way we conduct our business activities—by obtaining information on the go.
The use of mobile technologies in both the personal realm and the business setting has created an interesting symbiotic relationship—adding value to each, enhancing the interaction and exchange of activities between the two spaces, and ever closing the gap that exists between them.
The widespread use of mobile business applications within the business world for performing basic communication and collaboration activities, such as e-mail, voice, and text sharing, has created a trend not only to incorporate mobile technologies in more business areas within an organization, but also to take a more strategic approach to the deployment of mobile technologies. Add to this the emergence of new and “smarter” mobile devices, and you have the potential for even greater adoption by not only large corporations, but also small to medium businesses (SMBs) looking to incorporate mobile technologies within their business arsenal.
With the slow but steady adoption of mobile technologies within the BI and analytics spaces, both large and smaller BI software providers have began incorporating mobile BI capabilities into their BI and analytics portfolios. And, surprisingly, a number of software vendors are already armed with mobile BI software capabilities.
The State of the Mobile BI Space
BI applications aim to provide users with the technology, analytics, and user experience features needed to improve the organization’s decision-making process—enabling better and faster decisions. This is done by analyzing an important asset of an organization: its information.
A wealth of BI software providers now offer mobile BI features to different degrees and forms and using different approaches. While some vendors use their mobile BI capabilities as a core functional consideration of their solutions and, in fact, use them as a basic go-to-market strategy, others incorporate mobile capabilities within their BI product portfolios with quietude and consider them as much a necessary commodity of their BI solutions as other functional offerings of their BI portfolios.
The last 3 years has seen fervent interest in mobile BI offerings are due to three main reasons:
1. The advent and massive adoption of new and improved mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, in particular, have afforded users bigger screens for beter data visualization and analysis as well as enhanced hardware features such as memory and process power.
2. The introduction of mobile devices for performing business tasks besides e-mailing and texting—which created a landscape for adopting decision-making tools, besides operational mobile applications, such as business process and corporate collaboration—has paved the way for mobile device usage by decision makers and executives.
3. The evolution of other types of technologies, particularly those related to mobile security and mobile application development.
The mobile BI space is seeing steady growth, as an increasing number of BI vendors have begun incorporating mobile BI features and functions into their BI portfolios (Oracle, SAP, IBM Cognos, etc.), while others got into business as niche mobile BI providers (Transpara, MeLLmo, ComponentArt). But the mobile BI space is still evolving to provide more advanced and consistent features, moving away from being just a way to visualize static information contained within fixed reports and dashboards to incorporating newer ways to enable real-time analysis and advanced data drill-through capabilities.
Adoption of mobile BI technologies within different types of organizations has been enabled by a critical change in the decision-making process and in the evolution of the new decision maker and his/her working environment:
Increased mobility of decision makers and the decision-making process, allowing for the dynamic sharing of data and processes across the organization—i.e., offices may span across a nation or the globe and, consequently, personnel frequently travel back and forth between locations.
Pervasive adoption of collaborative decision-making efforts, both multicultural and multidisciplinary.
From a technical (network availability, mobile devices, etc.) and business perspective, personnel have access to data from anywhere at any time, enabling decision makers and information workers to perform business tasks regardless of their location.
Such enablers make it possible for software vendors to embrace mobile technologies for BI and data analysis purposes.
Emergence of devices of a size permitting better data visualization and analysis tasks (e.g., tablets)— by providing larger screens and facilitating the manipulation of data (touch screens).