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The Future Of Mobile BI - Will It Take Off?
Part 2

by Lyndsay Wise, President, WiseAnalyticsMonday, June 28, 2010

Part 1 of this article looked at some of the common barriers to mobile BI use including a lack of general adoption and the fact that many internal BI applications are far from providing their assumed value.  In addition, although vendors offer mobile BI to their customers, overall use is limited to specific types of users.  Part 1 also explored the evolution of mobile BI offerings.  Overall, whether a company chooses to adopt mobile BI will depend upon many factors, such as their corporate culture, nature of their business, current BI usage, and comfort with varying technologies.  For businesses open to expanding their BI infrastructure and use, mobile BI adoption can become an additional way to collaborate and disseminate information.

Part 2 takes a more forward-looking approach to mobile BI and looks at the types of practical adoptions mobile BI will probably take as technology begins to affect the way people work on a broader level.  This includes evaluating the effects of emerging technologies, the expansion of use of the iPad and tablets, and whether these new toys will help increase the general use of business intelligence.

The real adoption of mobile BI applications

Even though mobile BI has seen limited adoption, for organizations that choose to take advantage of mobile analytics, the ability to access business intelligence irrespective of geographic location can be very beneficial to business performance and data visibility.   People are becoming less attached to physical offices due to the increase in  telecommuting, virtual businesses and e-commerce, travel, client engagements, supply chain management, and the like.  Consequently, people are also becoming less tied to traditional means of business management and are adopting more interactive ways of doing business.  Collaboration and social networking have become commonplace in some organizations and people are starting to bridge the gap between the way they  interact with technology inside and outside of the office.  As this trend grows, more companies will start to use applications that support collaboration and communication across channels, geographic locations and departments.

Even with the benefits of mobile access to information, the reality is that due to the small screen real estate of mobile phones, there will always be limitations in relation to how much can be viewed or interacted with at once. People’s preferences will dictate whether mobile BI actually gains wide adoption or whether the development of these applications simply addresses the needs of internal competition among vendors.

What about iPads and tablets?

The entry of the iPad and other tablets may or may not change the impact of mobile BI on the market.  Whether these devices move beyond play depends upon the acceptance  level of organizations and adoption among business users.  However, the ability to have larger surface areas with touch screens means that mobile BI now becomes a valuable interactive tool to analyze and manipulate data.  Consequently, information becomes more usable.  And in some cases, even outdoing how people access BI traditionally because of the flexibility involved through greater levels of interaction coupled with transportability.

Also, as more people become comfortable with newer technologies, the role of business applications and their expansion will become seamless.  End users will require the ability to manage the customer irrespective of location.  A good example is Apple and the fact that within their physical stores they bring checkout to the customer with the option of a paperless transaction.  These types of customer initiatives will continue to become more prevalent and provide a good example of how businesses are taking advantage of mobile technologies to expand their reach and enhance customer experience.  Tying this to BI means that organizations will provide the same conveniences to their employees giving them the flexibility to access the right information at the right time within the right place – whether the right place means on a desktop, laptop or mobile device.

Mobile as an analytics vessel

Apple’s example also provides a good introduction into the secondary way companies are taking advantage of mobile technologies and leveraging BI.  Although not considered within the category of mobile BI, the fact remains that many organizations are tracking their customers by collecting GPS and geospatial data to identify demographics or to make special offers based on location or store proximity.  Information collected is also applied to analytics to identify the success of marketing campaigns or to identify consumer-buying habits.  Overall, the use of BI is expansive when looking at how businesses leverage mobile-related data and apply that data to analytics, whether from within companies using BI applications on mobile devices or by using mobile information as the input for business intelligence processes. 

The future of mobile BI and takeaways

The converging roles of BI, mobile BI and the use of mobile data to provide actionable intelligence to commercial enterprises shows the value of leveraging mobile  technologies and business intelligence.  Whether organizations choose to implement this form of BI and whether end users choose to adopt its use on a broad scale remains to be seen.  For organizations that do, there will be tremendous payback over time due to the increased flexibility and availability of data.

Companies leveraging BI should consider whether they can benefit from using mobile BI.  However, before expanding the use of business intelligence applications throughout the organization, it becomes important to make sure that traditional or current BI use is providing end users value.  The role of mobile BI may expand as technology and usage become more mainstream but should not replace a focus on developing strong internal applications that help end users increase business process efficiencies and overall performance.

About the Author

Lyndsay Wise is an industry analyst for business intelligence. For over seven years, she has assisted clients in business systems analysis, software selection and implementation of enterprise applications. Lyndsay is the channel expert for BI for the Mid-Market at B-eye-Network and conducts research of leading technologies, products and vendors in business intelligence, marketing performance management, master data management, and unstructured data. She can be reached at lwise@wiseanalytics.com. And please visit Lyndsay's blog at myblog.wiseanalytics.com.


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