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Mobile Dashboards with Location Intelligence

by Ryan Goodman, http://www.centigonsolutions.comWednesday, May 25, 2011

In the last year, mobility has become a focal point for organizations who look to expand business intelligence to phones and tablets. Mobile business solutions vary as some software vendors have ported legacy dashboard platforms and others have completely re-thought how to approach dashboards for mobility. There is a growing variety of software solutions available in the marketplace that will continue to evolve with improved hardware. While data visualization and gesture capabilities have been effectively integrated into mobile dashboards, location intelligence is the next logical step for increasing the utility of mobile business analytics.

What is location intelligence?

Location intelligence combines geographic and business data together to uncover trends and patterns. The goal is to provide insight into geo-spatial relationships not possible with standard charts and tabular data. Dashboards typically harness map visualization for KPIs aligned to geographic boundaries like country or state. The emergence of web 2.0 mapping technologies like Google Maps have provided real-time, location based visualization for assets, events, and points of interest.

Mobility and location awareness

Mobile phones and tablets create new opportunities for location intelligence not possible with desktop applications. Thanks to embedded GPS, mobile devices create the perfect opportunity for actionable dashboards tailored to a mobile workforce. These GPS enabled map services can provide much more than just a pin on a map. Directions, collaboration, and tracking are important features that add utility for business users who require mobile mapping. As maps become critical for geographic insight into business events and performance, location based services will assist mobile workers to make better decisions.

Driving Real business Value

iPad mobile dashboardsMobile workers need to understand where events, exceptions, and assets are located. While this information is easily accessible from traditional dashboard and report solutions, prioritization by current geographic proximity is only possible via GPS enabled devices. Real-time decision making is a critical requirement where mobile workforces can justify ROI from mobile dashboards.

For example, organizations with delivery fleets already have software for distribution and routing. However, not all of these companies arm their drivers with automated intelligence so they can work smarter. Why not provide this mobile workforce with a dashboard that can leverage GPS? In this scenario drivers are empowered with real-time intelligence with supporting technology to identify at-risk deliveries, or finding the best route to ensure deliveries are on-time. Because the gap is shrinking between enterprise and consumer technology, mobile workers can use their existing phone rather than relying on corporate supplied devices. If a mobile, location aware solution like this can help optimize planning and prioritization to visit additional clients per day, that is a direct savings to the bottom line. There are many interesting business scenarios like this that enterprise IT organizations’ want to evaluate with location aware dashboard solutions.

Looking forward

Mobile dashboards have forced software vendors to re-evaluate real business problems that mobile workforces encounter. A rapidly evolving marketplace has created a level of fragmentation across hardware and software, so the “one solution fits all” mobile dashboard solution does not exist yet. We have barely scratched the surface of what mobile dashboards will do as new waves of hardware and software hit the market. I look forward to next year when we revisit mobile dashboards as a community to see what new tools emerge, how mobile workforces adapt, and how we will all benefit.

About the author

Ryan Goodman is Centigon Solutions CEO, author, and renown SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards expert. With hundreds of successful dashboard projects under his belt, Ryan currently leads a team of specialized experts in the area of geographic visualization for business intelligence. Through his blog, Ryan continues to write and push the envelope for interactive visualization and related topics: http://ryangoodman.net/blog.

Ryan has previously covered mobile dashboards for Dashboard Insight writing "Mobile Applications in the Workplace"

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