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One of the biggest trends in Business Intelligence (BI) software is to offer access to applications through mobile devices. According to Gartner, enterprise mobile apps provide the convenience of data analysis in real time to better resolve issues and make immediate decisions.
Further advances in both device hardware and operating systems continue to push the capabilities of these mobile analytics tools. And as BI becomes a central component of a company’s technology strategy, many businesses are choosing to deploy mobile applications either alongside or in addition to traditional desktop systems.
The proliferation of smartphones and tablets has led to a rise in the number of BI applications. These applications allow users to access information and analyses while working with customers or colleagues in the field, while traveling or anytime they’re away from their desk. Users can also stay up to date with alerts and notifications.
In addition to improved access, these applications provide businesses the ability to shorten the time from question to action. Recent studies have found that managers who utilized mobile BI solutions were able to make decisions three times faster than those without them.
There are two ways users can access mobile BI technology:
Web-based mobile BI. In this method, users access the application through their device’s Web-browser (just as one would access any Web-based BI solution through a Web browser on any device). Users will have a consistent experience across both mobile and desktop versions of the application, with access to similar or identical data and features.
App-based mobile BI. Here, the system is accessed through a special application installed on the device. This method can take advantage of specific mobile hardware features (e.g., touchscreens). This user experience will usually be better overall than trying to access a BI application through a mobile Web-browser, but will require learning a new interface and may mean losing some functionality.
Before deploying applications on mobile devices, you should consider the following:
Do you need mobile data management? Extending BI functionality to mobile devices means more devices and users for the IT team to manage. For large organizations, it’s important to have a mobile data management strategy that defines how applications and updates are pushed to users, how to troubleshoot hardware and software malfunctions and how to access the data if the device is misplaced or stolen.
Who gets access? Businesses will have to define who gets access to these applications—and to which modules. For example, executives can utilize advanced reporting functionality to relay results to pertinent parties and monitor performance by utilizing dashboard features. Similarly, management teams can access dashboards and visualizations to share with colleagues and clients.
Should you invest in Apple devices? While mobile BI applications often support multiple device platforms (e.g., iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, RIM BlackBerry and Windows Phone), many vendors have made Apple the focus of their mobile strategy. In the most recent Mobile Business Intelligence Market Study conducted by Dresner Advisory Services, several leading BI vendors—including IBM, Information Builders, Jaspersoft, MicroStrategy, Oracle, SAP and others—listed the iPhone and iPad as two of the top three platforms these vendors are prioritizing.
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