Mobile Business Intelligence: Strategies, Trends and Pitfalls

In pursuit of informed decision-making, should employees be bound to their desktops to access reports and dashboards? Or should field workers make hit-or-miss decisions just because they do not have relevant figures at hand? No, they shouldn’t! With mobile business intelligence, relevant reports and dashboards will be available whenever and wherever they are needed.

What are the market trends?

The topic of mobile BI is not new but still emerging. Business Application Research Center’s survey of top business intelligence trends for 2017 showed that 2,800 respondents assessed mobile BI as much as 5.8 out of 10 on the “Importance” scale (the results for 2016 were identical). Such a high assessment proves that companies consider mobile BI among their priorities.

Besides, the number of smartphones and tablets is constantly increasing. Pew Research Center shares the following statistics: 51% of US adults use tablets and 77% – smartphones. These figures prove that these devices have become an indispensable part of our lives. What’s more, the prices of smartphones and tablets have become more affordable, which means lower investments to equip the team with BI-enabled devices.

Who needs mobile BI in the first place?

Here are just a few recommendations based on our BI consulting practice. They are not exhausting, and this list of those who need BI mobile solutions can be extended with other industries and job titles.


C-suite. In every industry, it’s top managers who are main decision-makers. However, they are always on the go: their job implies many off-site meetings and business trips. With mobile BI tools, executives can always stay up-to-date and operate real-time figures during important negotiations.

Healthcare providers. Armed with a tablet, a telehealth director can immediately reach analytical data about the existing service, explore the revenues, expenses, ROI, patient segmentation, etc., and identify the need either to modify the offering or to launch a relevant promotional activity.

Retail territory managers can check performance indicators of every store and sales team directly during a store check and discuss them in detail with the store manager. Besides, territory managers can watch over out-of-stocks, volume of goods left after promotions, etc. and advise on the measures to solve the problem, if any.

Manufacturing quality inspectors. With the BI information available on tablets, quality assurance inspectors gain mobility and can access all the data by assembly lines, which increases overall efficiency and productivity.


What are the benefits of Mobile Business Intelligence?

Mobile business intelligence has the advantages of desktop BI software, and many more. Let’s talk about these extra benefits.

Increased flexibility

The main goal of adopting mobile BI is to ensure that users can reach and explore required data at any time and location. In turn, this increased flexibility will bring better and faster response to the ever-changing environment and will encourage the team to be proactive (as they can generate ideas whenever inspired and immediately double-check their assumptions with the available data).

Improved efficiency

Thanks to mobile BI solutions, a company can improve its efficiency. The list of those who lack real-time data access reveals a hidden potential. If these team members had benefited from immediate data access, they could have made faster and more accurate decisions.

Fact-based corporate culture

With data insights at fingertips, making informed decisions will gradually grow into a habit to become eventually an integral part of a company’s corporate culture. Decision-makers will learn to analyze the data, share insights and support their decisions with facts.


What are the pitfalls to avoid?

Despite numerous advantages that mobile business intelligence brings, it is also necessary to consider its pitfalls that are easy to overlook. Some of them are typical for any BI solution, for example, data quality assurance. Here, let’s focus on mobile-related ones.

No cost efficiency analysis

A cost efficiency analysis has to be a starting point in deciding whether to introduce mobile BI. It is essential to envisage potential benefits and check them against the estimated costs. It may turn out that a company does not need mobile BI tools yet, and adopting them will bring just wasted efforts and money but no big value.

No priority to data security

When it comes to mobile solutions, data security should become a top priority. A mobile device that provides round-the-clock access to corporate data is a treasure turned trouble if lost or stolen. It means adoption costs should include all the measures to ensure sensitive data is protected.

No intelligence, just fancy graphics

Mobile BI should not produce just entertaining graphs but give the possibility to slice and dice and drill down, when details are needed. Of course, a user-friendly interface and good visualization are important, but, first of all, this is a tool for data analysis.


On a final note

When the whole world goes mobile, naturally business intelligence does the same. Unsurprisingly, it is among the current trends in BI. Yet, as any other tech solution, mobile BI has its pros and cons. However, if implemented professionally, mobile BI can bring the company to a new level, allowing increased flexibility, improving efficiency and contributing to fact-based corporate culture.



Alexander Bekker is a Head of Database and BI Department at ScienceSoft. With 18 years of experience, Alexander focuses on BI solutions (data driven applications, data warehouses and ETL implementation, data analysis and data mining) in retail, healthcare, finance, and energy industries. He has been leading such large projects as private labels product analysis for 18,500+ manufacturers, global analytical system for luxury vehicle dealers and more.