Delivering on the Demand for Mobile BI

Slalom Consultant Kelvin Kwong

Slalom Consultant Kelvin Kwong, based in San Francisco, delivers Business Intelligence solutions.

The Emergence of Mobile BI

Mobile BI provides an exciting new platform for the delivery of data to mobile audiences. Rather than replace existing reporting platforms, it seeks to extend reporting capabilities beyond the consumer’s desk. It is ideally suited for the delivery of time-sensitive information in support of real-time decision making. Important decisions do not always crop up at convenient times, and mobile BI is poised to remove such limitations.

While mobile BI is certainly not a new concept, recent developments have driven it to maturity and rapid adoption. The ubiquity of faster, more powerful smartphones in the enterprise has enabled reporting capabilities that rival some desktop BI functionality. As a result, most major BI platform vendors, and some third-party vendors as well, have developed or are developing software to take full advantage of these capabilities on mobile platforms.

The Promise of Mobile BI

The latest mobile BI technologies seek to move beyond simply replicating the desktop BI experience on a hand-held device. Common desktop user interface designs often don’t translate well to mobile interfaces. There is a need for tools that re-think how users interact with data and address the limitations of hand-held devices. Hardware interface limitations can often be offset by taking advantage of features unique to mobile devices (e.g., touch screens), and tools will continue to address this in innovative ways.

Some mobile BI applications already present new data visualization paradigms that are better suited for smartphones than desktop or laptop computers. This is a big driver for businesses to view mobile reporting as complimentary to, as opposed to duplicative of, traditional desktop reporting. Organizations now have the opportunity to present mobile BI as significant extensions to their BI programs.

Getting Started with Mobile BI

From executive management to sales, most medium to large enterprises contain large numbers of BI consumers who could readily capitalize on mobile reporting. These enterprises should consider implementing mobile BI solutions as a way of extending their BI strategy. The ROI for such solutions can, in many cases, be quickly realized by getting more out of existing BI investments.

A successful deployment of a Mobile BI solution involves integration with the overall enterprise BI strategy. Mobile BI should not be a separate, discrete technical deployment. Many of the processes around business, data, and reporting requirements already in place can be applied towards mobile BI. Rather, mobile BI should be treated as another platform on which to deliver reporting.

The business case for such deployments is strong. BI has become an integral part of many businesses, and increased adoption in more decision-making processes will only result in better decisions that ultimately impact the bottom line. Mobile BI fills in the gaps in desktop BI to best ensure that happens.

– Kelvin

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