Mobile Business Intelligence

It’s funny how we end up being part of a historic shift and not realize it. You can have history being created right in front of you and still be unaware of its gravity. You come to terms with it only after its full culmination.

The last time this happened when business processes started migrating to the online platform. Although we did feel the vibe, back then we did not imagine internet to change the way we do business. Granted that we were still exploring the medium but did we really expect it to entirely revamp our business landscape? I don’t think so. However, it did turn out to be a significant phase of our development.

Now today as business intelligence tools migrate to the mobile platform, we once again find ourselves amidst a metamorphosis like situation. We know this time again our business landscape is going to change. But right now it’s hard to envision what it would exactly look like in the future.

Howard Dresner, founder of Dresner Advisory Services, echoed the same sentiment in his Mobile Business Intelligence Market Study 2011 webcast when he stated, “We are in the midst of a profound shift, a paradigm shift in favor of mobile business intelligence and things will never fundamentally be the same again.”

So what would they look like then? Let’s examine.

Mobile Will Be the First Choice of BI Users

For years businesses have depended on PDF reports and interactive dashboards as vehicles of business intelligence. But now mobile apps have reached a point where they can take over the responsibility of delivering business intelligence. What aides them is their small size combined with their state-of-the-art multi-touch interfaces. Mobile BI apps make information easy accessible at fingertips, literally! They are also more intuitive as compared to existing full-client BI systems. So don’t be surprised if more and more BI users start reaching out for their iPads instead of laptops or PCs.

Mobile BI Will Touch Enterprise at Grass Root Level

With almost every single member of an enterprise workforce using mobile phone, business intelligence will percolate deeper in the enterprise. Employees will have greater access to real-time analytics and business reports breaking the top management’s dominance over BI. Now even the guys working the floors or on the road for an enterprise will have access to business reports. Thus Mobile BI will usher in a new class of users for BI.

A Deluge of BI Applications

Currently, mobile BI vendors are matching the functionalities and autonomy of web-based and desktop-based BI applications through interactive dashboards. With passage of time these applications will get standardized and centralized. Once this happens we expect vendors to come up with real cutting edge BI solutions that will have the option of desktop and web but will primarily focus on mobile platform. There will be a torrent of mobile applications with integrated analytics and operations to serve fast emerging agile enterprises.

Better Sales Analysis & Visibility

Sales analysis and predictive analytics have dominated enterprise BI applications for decades. Now with BI available on iPads and tablets, sales managers and decision makers have ready access to real-time analytics. They don’t need to go back to months old reports for better insight. They can better project future market scenarios, manage supply chain, and optimize performance.

New Security Concerns

As with any new platform, mobile also brings along a host of security issues. But with mobile BI applications dealing with sensitive corporate information and business critical data, these security issues take on a whole new meaning. Here, enterprises will prefer to store data on their servers instead of allowing mobile device storage. And if the data is highly sensitive and requires to be secured, enterprises may choose to withhold it and not let it pass down to mobile devices.

But not all market participants are under the spell of mobile BI apps. Critics of mobile BI have reared their heads and already declared it as a fad. They argue that mobile BI apps devoid of interactivity are nothing more than just informative emails or more so text messages. They argue that the ease of using such mobile BI apps is subject to the mobile device of the users. They also point towards the ambiguity of how end users of mobile BI would be able to interact and collaborate with each other.

With all said and done, nobody can deny the fact that mobile BI is still in its nascent stage. We don’t know how it will evolve in the future. It’s like standing at the doors of an unknown but exciting Pandora. You never know what you might encounter there. But it’s definitely worth a try!