BI has become the backbone of many businesses and better decision-making is the key to make an impact. The very essence of BI is to provide users with up-to-date insight allowing them to make informed decisions. What if these decisions can be made on the go? What if one gets real-time alerts? What if we are informed when an action is needed? What if we can have access to real-time Information with a touch of our figure tips?
Sales, Logistics, Finance etc. everywhere there is need to have access to information anywhere anytime. and increasing mobile workforce, adoption of smartphones and browser technology has been the main factors behind the big push on Mobile Business Intelligence or has been quoted by couple authors on the web MOBI. Latest innovations in the area of supporting cross-platform delivery, improvements in mobile bandwidth 3G-4G, and support for wireless connectivity are eased with the confidence in mobile deployment of BI.
There are many vendors currently competing in this space right now. To name a few: Targit BI, PushBI, RoamBI from MeLLmo, Qlikview, Microstrategy, Oracle, IBM Cognos, SAP, Visual KPI from Transpara, Yellowfin, Business Objects and others.
However the biggest challenges come with the deployment of mobile apps. Small screen sizes, lesser processing power, ease to lose vital company data with the loss/theft of your handheld devices.
Let’s have a look on what you might want to consider before deploying mobile BI within your organization and deciding on the tool:
• Aesthetics: Are charts, graphs, and other data visualizations actually legible on smart phones or tablets
• Alerts: Capability to alert your mobile device if a certain threshold is reached
• Authentication: Automatic user role identification either at the handheld or server level
• Auto screen orientation detection: Although most of the handheld devices now offer this
• Barcode scanning: most devices now use camera phone for 2D 3D barcode scanning
• Battery consumption: Amount of battery consumption
• Bookmarking capability: Possibility view bookmarked selections and/or to bookmark your selections from within your mobile device
• CoverFlow: Visually flipping screenshots, charts, tables
• Custom App: Is there a custom app that needs to be downloaded to be able to access your reports or your mobile browser can be used for it. Apple iTunes store
• Detail: Ability to show and hide details
• Double-click: Are you using object that needed to be double clicked e.g. I-pad does not support double-click and you might not be able to achieve what you want
• Drill-down: Is it possible to drill down in charts/ tables etc.
• Filters and Prompts: Ability to select filters and prompts
• Guided navigation: From one chart or table to another based on selection on that chart or table
• Hardware: Windows Mobile devices, iPhone, iPads, Blackberry etc. While blackberry may be dominant in business world I-phone, I-pads and android market share has been picking up rapidly. So it is important to know, the capabilities of the BI tool of your choice in the hardware your choice.
• Licensing: Individual licensing through apple store or android market or fees based on number of mobile users or licenses sold based on mobile server authentication for number of users.
• Location Intelligence: Customization of App based on User and Location information enables by GPS, User’s IP, network address, cell-tower triangulation or user reported location.
• Long-press: Long press capabilities can be used for ease of navigation
• Mobile Network: 3G Vs. 4G
• Multi-touch: Support for better visualization using multi-touch
• Optimization: Mobile BI apps optimizes tradition BI reports so they can be viewed easily on a small screen and is ideal for displaying reports on a small screen.
• Processing power: Processing power required from hand-held
• Real-time monitoring: Is it possible to keep a track on the numbers e.g. Inventory, Sales etc. in real-time including calculated BI fields such as profit/last year’s profit
• Resize and sliders: Auto resize for best readability of reports. Ease to use sliders
• Search: How easy is to search charts or reports
• Security: Remote lock and data wipe capabilities to deal with lost or stolen devices1
• Sorting: Can reports and charts be sorted from within the mobile device
• Toggle Full screen: Toggle between full screen and default visualization
• Touch-screen: If there is touch screen capabilities or is it just an image
• Training: How easy is to duplicate your knowledge of using interface from desktop version to the mobile version
• User experience: Not everyone is ready to digest mobile BI and user experience is an important factor in Mobile BI implementation
• Zoom: Ability to zoom in and out of report based on user selection