Mobility represents a giant step forward in business intelligence. The potential for enterprise users to access business-critical information wherever, whenever and on which-ever device they want, creates a tremendous opportunity for improved corporate productivity – and for software vendors to achieve a competitive advantage.
Business Discovery is the next generation of business intelligence. It bridges the gap between traditional BI solutions and stand-alone office productivity applications, enabling users to forge new paths and make new discoveries. Business Discovery works with what you have and infuses new capability into BI: insight for everyone, zero-wait analysis, mobility, an app-like model, remixability and reassembly, and a social and collaborative experience.
The enterprise demands mobile solutions
The enterprise computing landscape is expanding rapidly. Every facet of the way business people use technology is driving the need for anywhere/anytime mobile access and usage.
Today’s enterprise users simply don’t want to be told what they can or can’t do. They want to be empowered by business intelligence wherever they are computing. If they buy a sexy new Android tablet, they want to access their business information on it as well. They want to be able to get whatever information they need – and to explore that information – without having to go back to IT to create another predefined report structure.
The move to a truly mobile enterprise is also having a significant impact on products offered by software companies, data aggregators and information providers.
These vendors can provide mobile solutions as a competitive differentiator, as an opportunity to upsell or, simply, a way to stay in the game.
Consider these four major trends driving the need for enterprise mobility:
Trend #1. Proliferation of devices/platforms. It’s been a long time since users had to be tethered to their desktop PCs to be productive. But today, users can perform most any app on their laptops, phones or tablet. It is not possible for people to use theses mobile devices in their personal lives and not expect their companies to offer similar levels of access and efficiency.
Trend #2. Explosion of information. Mobile corporate users need information at their fingertips wherever they need to make a decision. They don’t want to have to go back to the office just to pull up a file or access an app. And the information their receive on-the-go cannot be static reporting. New devices such as tablet computers enable them to explore the data – not just view it.
Trend #3. Sophistication of users. Much has been written about the changing roles of IT and the business users. To be sure, the corporate user base has become more savvy and demanding about what they need to do their jobs. As consumers use their phones to access Gmail, Facebook and Skype, they wonder why they cannot achieve the same level of access with corporate apps. Similarly, when the IT department won’t approve the purchase of an iPad, a manager can just bring one in from home and demand that IT support it. Where IT used to tightly control what users could do, users now demand better productivity solutions and can very often find their own solutions if IT won’t help out.
Trend #4. Evolution of IT. In addition to the new role IT plays with users, the technology side of their function is rapidly changing as well. IT is evolving to support best of breed solutions that enable end users to more effectively meet their needs. IT is becoming a business partner with end users and working with them to ensure they have the best solutions available.
Success factors for mobile BI
Mobile business intelligence solutions will enable enterprises and software vendors to deliver much-needed accessibility and usability to their user and customer communities.
A new Gartner report on business intelligence platforms underscores the importance of mobility. The report points to a new type of BI solution taking the lead in the marketplace – one which gives corporate users the flexibility, mobility and control they have come to expect from their applications.
“The need for more intuitive and interactive BI tools and applications extends to users on the go, but the vast majority of organizations have yet to embrace mobile BI. But this is set to change very quickly with the proliferation of Apple’s iPhone and iPad products, with other tablets on the horizon… Mobile BI has the potential to significantly expand the population of BI users to include a much more mainstream audience.”
– ”Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms” – Gartner, January 2011
To achieve success with mobile BI, enterprises and software vendors need to ensure their solution includes the following five success factors:
1) A user-centric approach
Mobile offerings cannot be a static version of a report or a glorified email message. Users must be able to ask their own questions and formulate their own insight. If data in one report causes a user to want to ask a new question, he or she must be able to have that level of interactivity. If that is not available, then the solution is not truly mobile.
2) Rapid time to value
Traditional BI platforms can take months or years to deploy to a large group of users. Today’s competitive business environment will not allow for such a long deployment. Mobile BI platforms should be able to be deployed in a matter of days or months and deliver a rapid time to value for clients.
3) An associative experience
The mobile BI interface should enable users to view the relationships between data sets so that they can uncover the relationship between data points. For example, when a sales manager clicks on a specific product, he or she can see all the reps that sold that product last month, all the customers that bought it, all the territories it was sold in, and so on. In addition, and equally as important, he or she can see where the product hasn’t been sold, identifying opportunities for improvement. By enabling the user to explore all these data fields, it is possible to get new ideas for further analysis and uncover new insights which weren’t possible before.
4) Anytime/anywhere access
Just like users expect to access their Gmail account from any browser, enterprise users have to be able to access their critical data from wherever they need it – the manufacturing floor, a client site, a ski resort – and use whatever platform they want to share it with their customers or other partners.
5) Device compatibility
Unfortunately, not everyone is using Windows anymore – neither will everyone use an iPad. The rapid proliferation of mobile devices is creating a challenge for software vendors and other companies trying to serve data across the numerous platforms. A successful mobile BI platform must work across all of today’s various phones, tablets, laptops, desktops – and whatever comes next – and make it easy for corporations to support these heterogeneous environments.
Mobile solutions must be enterprise proven or enterprise ready. It is one thing for employees to be using their mobile devices to make calls or play Angry Birds. But when they start interacting with corporate data, those corporations must have confidence in the security, manageability, consistency and scalability of the solution. Rather than relying on the inconsistent enterprise capabilities of the device itself, mobile BI solutions must bring their existing enterprise-proven framework to the mobile platform, giving both IT and business users peace of mind.
Enterprises and software companies face a tremendous opportunity to take BI out of the desktop and deliver it to their users where business decisions are made. Mobile BI is what users are demanding – and it is what the next generation of BI leaders will provide.
Jeff Boehm is Vice President of Global Product Marketing at QlikView.