Mobile BI : For That Executive On-the-Go

Imagine a not very futuristic picture of an executive dressed in a matrix inspired black suit barking orders, which he lands at due to the business reports that some futuristic device presents to him.

With the changing face of business intelligence (BI), it’s no sci-fi fantasy that decision makers will have to simply keep dreaming about. The dream to have strategic business information in the palms of your hands is now within reach of the modern executives with the Mobile BI technology.

Evolving Mobile BI Landscape

The domain of BI has evolved significantly over the last few years. Several applications, now available, allow users to upload their own sheets and work thereon. Even Excel can provide great visualization using PowerPivot. Self-service BI has emerged as a popular model.

Simultaneously, the smart phone of today can offer visualizations, computing, and internet experience in addition to communication. Their rendition of graphics is close to laptops, thus making them ideal media for accessing BI reports.

Tablet PCs are another segment where mobile BI will see a lot of traction.

Mobile BI is meant for those highly mobile executives and who need to take decisions based on a few important KPIs (key performance indicators).  Other target segment of the user population could be the folks on the fields such as sales force, paramedics and for anyone who need data / information on-demand while operating from remote locations.

Limitations of Mobile BI

Although mobile BI has been gaining popularity, the technology has a few limitations. Listed below are some key short comings that mobile BI has today. This includes concerns about the amount of data that can be pushed to the mobile platform due to the limitations of the device in terms of viewable area, processing power, and memory.

  • Limited slicing and dicing: Mobile BI apps provide limited slicing and dicing of data owing to hardware limitations.
  • High Latency: For larger requests, the query returns to the server and configures the reports, thus increasing latency.
  • Associated Costs: Vendors providing their own apps also tie their mobile BI server to it, thus inflating the cost of mobile BI projects.
  • Real Estate : Another area is a problem akin to what the smart phone faces — the limited real estate/viewing area for data visualization and rendering.  However, tablets seem to have overcome this shortcoming.
  • Security : Amount and type of information to be sent to mobile devices and the kind of authentication to be built into the mobile platform are crucial challenges faced by CIOs and CISOs. A robust security and access control layer needs to be developed along with implementation of any enterprise mobility initiative, including mobile BI.  A combination of user authentication, mobile device security, multi-tier architecture, and data transmission security can help one mitigate the security risk greatly.

Mobile BI : What You Can Do

Organizations can implement mobile BI as a tool. Vendors like SAP BOQlikview, and Microstrategy provide mobile BI as an offering along with their BI suites.

Recently, Qlikview reverted to browser-based delivery of BI content thus moving away from native application-based delivery. This move could possibly have been driven by the proliferation of multiple device operating platforms such as iOS, Symbian, Android, etc.

The Open Source folks are not far behind. BIRT offers similar mobile BI (BIRT Mobile)functionalities which could be suitable for budget conscious but tech-savvy organizations. A new player, Yellowfin BI, offers embedded and social media BI capability. Two other players who have already taken the lead and worth watching in the mobile BI app market are RoamBI and PushBI.

On-the-Job Learning

The good part is that one does not need to hire a talented mobile developer in the IT team unless custom applications are to be developed. BI developers may utmost need to learn ways to nit-ti-grit-ties with the current desktop-based BI tools versus the mobile BI ones to implement mobile business intelligence.

The growing number of web conferences on Mobile BI offered through the leading vendors clearly heralds the level and impact this new delivery medium is bound to see in days to come.

How Social BI and Data Analytics Professionals Use Twitter

Influence of social media on decision makers is fast catching up.  People regularly look up to the social media for any references to the product / solution they are intending to engage with.  Even the search engines has been aggregating information based on the hash tag searches and the trending topics.

Business Intelligence and Data Analytics professionals too haven’t been left behind on this powerful and influential medium of communication.  AllformZ blog has been covered in this week’s TIBCO Spotfire’s Blog for its contribution towards Social BI / Mobile BI and the services rendered to the BI Practitioner community especially in India.

Adding another perspective to this is Mark Smith, EVP of Research & CEO of premier analyst firm, Ventana Research firm’s blog post on the kind of influence or need for social media adoption amongst the analyst community.  He stresses upon the need for analyst community to embrace this effective medium.

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Other influential Twitter folks to follow are :