How to Plan Your Mobile BI Strategy

October 5, 2010
119 Views

tablet 150x150 photo (business intelligence)

Tablets, smartphones, laptops and netbooks are all the rage due to their mobility. And, the news and blogs are overflowing with coverage of the next bell or whistle on each of these gadgets.

tablet 150x150 photo (business intelligence)

Tablets, smartphones, laptops and netbooks are all the rage due to their mobility. And, the news and blogs are overflowing with coverage of the next bell or whistle on each of these gadgets.

Now, there’s a call for a tablet strategy for Business Intelligence applications. In his article at IT Management, Larry Marion calls for the development of specific interfaces for tablet users who want to access data analytics tools and BI data on the go. 

While this is a noble aim, isn’t it better to encompass tablets in an overall mobile BI strategy? Making the iPad, the Galaxy, the Steak or the Blackberry tablet – the Playbook – the focus of a singular strategy may not be the best option for a few reasons:

Tablets are just hitting the market – Yes, tablets should be on your radar for integrations, but some of them just hit the market. IT needs to insert them in the overall BI strategy and gauge usage before jumping into the integration development.

Smartphones still rule the space – Neglecting the advances in mobile BI for smartphones would be a mistake, and just like tablets should be a portion of your strategy – not a singular focus.

Business users may not be using the BI apps at all – A good stepping stone for any BI app is to gauge usage of the overall application in the organization. Then, set forth your investigation for how mobile devices will be used with BI applications. Marion cites a survey from Dresner Advisory Services about how, right now, businesses have “extremely low penetration” for mobile BI apps.

However, Dresner predicts that two years from now, half the companies surveyed will have “at least 20% of their users accessing BI data via a mobile device.” That’s why the time to look at an overall BI mobile strategy is now.

Marion offers some great guidelines in how to start a strategy, but it’s important to look at all mobile devices in this strategy – not just the tablet of the day:

Investigate with your users what they want to access. While tablets have greater capabilities to access data with their bigger screens and touch keyboards, the human using it needs to drive the BI app development. Build your strategy around what the want to access on the road or out of the office.  

Look at the high-priority areas of the company – production and inventory. Quiz workers who rely on real-time data to perform their jobs about BI access and what device will work best for them.

Don’t try to standardize platforms – Work with what your users are purchasing. Marion spends a good bit of space on this in his post – and as the personal devices become more commonplace in your organization, take advantage of the opportunities to beta test with users bringing in their devices.

Mobile BI is here, but in order to be successful in managing budgets and helping users increase productivity – the overall strategy needs to be the focus, not just pieces and parts.

Amanda Brandon
Spotfire Blogging Team

Image Credit: Clipartsmart.com