The new ability of sales managers and other involved in partner management or supply chain management to bring business intelligence with them means that they no longer need to download reports in advance or refer to out-of-date data. This results in more opportunities in performance and business relationships.
Even though some kind of information access may have existed in the form of Blackberrys and other such mobile devices, the amount of interaction and the scale of functionality is new and is groundbreaking.
In fact, if we look at a variety of research that has been done on this topic, we see that they all show the same trends. One survey of 277 companies with business intelligence systems showed that employee usage of these systems doubled once they started using mobile BI.
So we see that in the future mobile business intelligence systems will allow us to be in the places where we haven't been to before. In the future with mobile business intelligence, there’ll never be an excuse not to know something. That’s the direction we’re going in. Information will literally follow the business user.
End users will have business intelligence at their fingertips whether they are at their desks, in meetings, or offsite. Wherever they go they will always be able to know what's going on all the time. So here is something that we need to consider when we are looking at mobile business intelligence.
There are three main things. One is the purpose of why we are using mobile BI. What is the business purpose? Because the idea here is not to have specific technical solutions. That’s not what's interesting here. What’s interesting here is how it helps our business to become a better business and to utilize the information it has to both improve what we have today and also foster some new business capabilities. You should always look at what's your business need, how using mobile BI will advance your business and who are the people who gain the most out of it.
The second thing to look at is data security. Data security, of course, exists in all organizations today. Mobile devices add another layer of complexity that you must take into account. Security policies in mobile devices need to be tight, but the reality is that there is such mix of devices in a company that you need to think up some new procedures and processes as to how to enforce them, especially taking into account that some of the mobile devices are not even owned by the company, they are owned by the users and actually their own individual devices.
The third thing is to consider business continuity issues. It’s very important that mobile BI will not be some standalone application that has nothing to do with the other applications that the businesses are using. Nobody uses such systems anymore. Mobile applications need to be tied into the whole enterprise infrastructure and need to be tied into how users use their computers and their laptops.
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There needs to be a continuity between using applications while they are at their desk and using applications while they are on the go. Also for when users using their application while they are away from work, and all they have is their mobile phones. So they need these three types of devices. There needs to be continuity and there needs to be continuity between the BI applications and of course other applications within the organization.
So it’s very important that the business intelligence application will be a unified solution. With focus shifting towards mobile BI offerings that meet business needs and offer a higher level of interactivity, some service models are also becoming more important. Mobile business intelligence requires ease-of-use and a spectrum of BI applications that provide end users with the autonomy to work on their own, self-service BI. Vendors that are meeting these needs are developing interactive dashboards that give the same features and functionalities as a Web-based application, but with desktop quality alternative capabilities.