The new normal: creating actionable mobile BI

Ryan McNaught

Ryan McNaught

We believe that as you begin to build your company’s mobile BI capabilities, it’s important to think beyond the basics. As a CIO, you are responsible for meeting the operational needs of many types of workers. To serve them well, a mobile BI solution should not simply duplicate standard dashboards and reports and present them in a different resolution. Instead, mobile BI needs to be actionable BI.

What do we mean by that? We mean that mobile BI needs to address a simple fundamental question: How will employees interact with and derive value from BI reports? The answer will most likely vary depending on the role of the employee—as it should. Mobile BI should be tailored to meet the needs of specific roles within the organization.

Consider, for example, a hypothetical regional beverage manufacturer. Traditionally, the manufacturer’s salespeople relied on memory for assistance with a customer interaction—reports from the field office, or remembered conversations about that particular customer, for example. Mobile can change this scenario entirely.

With smartphone access to a customized web dashboard, salespeople can search for a customer by name, phone number, or location and instantly have powerful, actionable data in their hands. Within minutes, the salesperson can know a customer’s purchase history over the last three months by product line, view pending orders and promotions for which the customer is eligible, and can dig into more detailed order information and sales breakdowns as needed.

With access to this pertinent information, salespeople can act much more effectively. Salespeople may not need to see customer retention, customer lifecycle, or basket analysis on their smartphones, while sales managers may prefer to see that information in their mobile reports.

Identifying and understanding what information will be useful to users within your company is the crux of creating actionable BI. You can create a compelling competitive advantage by getting the right information to the right people at the right time.

The mobile revolution has turned almost every worker into an information worker. People working in the field can now have quick and easy access to information and analytics, just as office workers do. In fact, the operational people in the field who have never been an audience for traditional BI are now a crucial audience for mobile BI. They need mobile BI to be pertinent, useful, and actionable. If you can deliver pointed, timely, and useful information to an operational worker when and where s/he needs it, then business becomes more efficient, margins grow bigger, and new doors are opened.

Mobile BI requires us to think differently about BI: how we deliver it, and to whom. The ubiquity of mobile devices gives us a fantastic new outlet to provide the right information to the right people at the right time. We encourage embracing mobile BI and allowing it to be the main presentation for actionable BI.

Slalom Consulting IM Consultant Eric Hewitt contributed to this post. Ryan McNaught and Eric Hewitt are members of Slalom’s Information Management Thought Leadership Committee. For more information, email the team at

About mostlyanalytics
Chief Editor for Mobile Analytics thought leadership in Slalom Consulting's New York Information Delivery practice and an IBM Certified Solution Expert – Cognos Business Intelligence; all views are my own.

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