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Will All Businesses One Day Use Mobile BI?

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Reading this article on Computerworld, Business Intelligence goes mobile, Manoj Prasad of Life Technologies Corp. says, "All enterprise companies will start moving on the mobile path."  Do you agree, will all businesses one day use mobile BI?

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  • One day, in the not too distant future, mobile BI won't be considered as a separate method for accessing and using business intelligence. As wireless internet connections become both higher speed and surely more ubiquitous, tapping into reports, dashboards, and even multi-dimensional analysis through a mobile / wireless device will become standard. And, as the form factor of wireless devices become better suited to business applications (e.g., tablet devices like the iPad), the uses and user types will expand greatly, paralleling organizational laptop and desktop use.

    In the near-term, however, making business intelligence useful on small form factor wireless devices (e.g. smart phones) will continue to be important but limited. These devices require "guided" and functionally-specific applications that enable a user to accomplish the most important percentage of core BI chores while mobile. In this area of small form factors, I would consider mobile BI as a growing "must-have" throughout this year and next.

    In total, mobile BI will evolve during the next few years, naturally extending the use of business intelligence applications in any organization. Based on this, I'm looking forward to doing more analysis poolside :-).

    Brian Gentile
    Chief Executive Officer

  • I would doubt that “all businessesâ€? would one day use Mobile BI? However, it is likely we will see reasonable growth in mobile users using devices that would require mobile BI solutions to gain anytime, anywhere visibility into the enterprises key metrics. Several challenges exist today. Those include small screens and lack of support for Flash based visualizations on devices like the iPhone and Ipad. Over time, we will see Tablet Computers grow significantly in the enterprise, then these will become standard devices and the term Mobile BI will disappear and just be called BI.

  • It is inevitable that mobile BI will become a given in the Enterprise environment. We saw a recent incident where the CEO of a large organization brought his personal iPad to a board meeting and started to takes notes on it. He changed corporate IT strategy towards mobility in an instant and the best that IT can now do is to deploy mobile management systems to ensure protection of corporate data in use and at rest on these PODs (Personally Owned Devices)

    The same CEO is now looking to initiate and approve business processes on his mobile device to work in conjunction with his mobile BI. Mobile BPM allows him to react instantaneously to the feedback that he gets from his BI reporting optimized for the smaller form factor and limited functionality of his mobile device.

    Both mobile BPM and Mobile BPM have specific design considerations, but those that deny their existence or the fact that it may become the platform of choice for specific user groups may find that their sales people will place orders slower, their managers will make slower decisions and their operations personnel will have to log on to slow and tedious BI systems to get quick dashboard information at their fingertips (no pun intended), than those of their mobile enabled competitors.

    Just think of how quick it is to read your email on you BlackBerry compared to starting up your Notebook.

    PS. I typed this response quickly from my iPad on the train after getting my Google Alert for Mobile BPM delivered to my mobile email.

  • "Mobile" is just another device that will need to be supported in BI. The "small screen" form factor is just one of the challenges in supporting wide scale use and deployment. We are still a few years away from a "write it once" to a dynamics infrastructure that recognizes and supports the thousands of small screen and mobile browser configurations in the market today, so we all have access the additional costs of supporting "mobile".

    The iPad and new wave of tablets we will see this year and next will address some of the issues with native PC browser support and someone (Apple?) will create a Flex to HTML 5 converter that will provide Apple a quick olive branch to Adobe. I suspect that will happen just about the time that a Droid phone or a tablet that supports Flex starts threatens Apple's iPad/iPhone hegemoney.

    Supporting all the current and future mobile configuration is still only half the equation that BI developers and IT support personnel will need to address, the other will be and interesting architectural / security trade-off debate.

    How much information can or should be stored-cached locally on a phone or tablet and how will it be secured? I would hazard a guess that smart phones are lost or stolen at a rate of 10X to laptops, which continues to be the greatest security threat in many BI deployments that allow "downloads". It's one thing to have cached the local edition of the USA Today on your iPhone, but quite another to have cached the quarterly financials. How much devise security and live authentication will be needed to meet the level of security required for the BI application and what will users reaction be to local login and / or connection required network authentication? All this BEFORE we consider any security breaches on the devices themselves.

    Ubiquitous mobile support is coming, but BI developers, support teams organizations need to think through all the implications of what it will cost in additional development and future support costs and carefully evaluate any additional risk in data security.

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