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Business Intelligence without Borders: How Mobile BI Is Changing The Game

Mobile Business Intelligence Art
Mobile Business Intelligence Art

The new corporate landscape is increasingly a mobile one. Over 80 percent of companies report their employees use BYOD, according to the Wall Street Journal, to connect to colleagues, retrieve company data, and get business done. Mobility, virtualization, and contract workers, are key forces reshaping the way and the environment in which today’s workers work.

The ubiquity of mobility has created a network of data and relationships that takes place outside the corporate framework … and firewall. This means that the data (or BI) businesses need to assess their own operations is no longer – strictly speaking – in their hands. It has literally moved from the office, to everyone on the supply chain, executives, managers, sales, service reps, teleworkers, vendors, partners and customers. What this is creating is a new demand for mobile-enabled BI for the enterprise.

What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

Some company IT teams are still in denial about the scope of BYOD, in fact, several articles still report that the vast majority of businesses they survey may allow BYOD, but do not have BYOD policies or programs in place. One recurring deterrent to implementing BYOD programs is the scale of the problem. BYOD, especially in the case of high-bandwidth apps, can deplete network resources and compromise internal data security. To manage this, businesses should seek out solutions that will support the exponentially greater demands on the network, while remaining agile, to enable users to fully maximize BYOD’s workplace potential (Source: People use BYOD because they are looking to quickly access information and respond with alacrity to business concerns, on- and off-site. Failing to create a seamless interface and connection between external devices and company networks is likely to generate increasingly frustrated and ineffectual workers.

Design within Reach

When you consider which applications users gravitate towards on their mobile devices, the visual appeal of some cannot be overstated. This is because the main selling point of mobile is that you can see varying degrees of complex data in a visual presentation that is easy to digest, navigate and interact with. It’s for this reason that mobile is also informing the way BI is presented. Remote workers, contractors, field reps, or on-site employees in an off-site tète-a-tète with a client do not have the luxury of scrolling endlessly to get to the meat of a set of data. The expectation with mobile BI is that complex information is not only available at a moment’s notice, but also that it is in no way less serviceable than if they were to be working on-site on a desktop or other stable platform. So, if an enterprise wants to ensure better worker engagement with its BI, it needs to take cues from successful mobile apps – a la Whatsapp – and design its interface in a way that mimics the platforms users most enjoy in their personal lives.

Mobile BI by the Numbers

In a recent study of BI on mobile technology by Ventana Research, they found that in 40% of those organizations studied, there was wide interest in mobile BI coupled with a wish to enhance the use of information derived. Despite this, less than half of those companies were taking advantage of mobile BI capabilities, while at the same time almost two-thirds – 71% - believed their mobile workers would be doing just that over the course of the year. Furthermore, there was strong support among executives for mobile BI. Nearly 50% of them see mobile access as critical to their existing BI processes, no doubt due to its ease of use and access. The study’s authors attribute the focus on these two elements to challenges many information workers experienced with accessing BI on mobile in its early stages. In its infancy, mobile BI applications were not fully optimized for touch-screens making them problematic. The mobile BI applications available now have responded to those calls for improvement and support highly user-friendly interfaces (Source:

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