Business intelligence is going mobile: are you ready?
Identify where mobile BI can make a real difference to the enterprise
Published 12:17, 01 February 12
There’s a revolution brewing in business intelligence — catalysed by soaring sales of tablet computers and other smart mobile devices. With advancements in browser technology, handhelds can now offer a browsing experience equal to and even superior to that provided by laptops and desktops.
The most potent advantage that organisations can gain from mobile BI is in-the-moment transformation of their business processes. All this creates game-changing operational efficiencies as well as faster and higher quality customer service.
Indeed, one public sector agency that operates a huge network of distribution centres is currently using mobile BI to capture machine efficiency statistics in real time. Managers can spot and address problems immediately rather than waiting for more sporadic reports — achieving efficiencies not typically associated with government agencies.
While mobile BI offers key advantages, it also presents challenges. To manage these so you can capitalise on mobile BI value, one of the first steps is to determine whether your organisation is ready. Mobile BI is best suited for enterprises that have already streamlined their data integration processes and standardised their master data. Negative impacts of invalid or unreliable data become apparent sooner in a mobile environment.
Next, educate yourself on the solution options and their relative strengths and weaknesses. For example, gauge the stability of a vendor’s technology and the ease-of-use of its solution offering. Consider how flexibly the solution can accommodate your reporting and visualisation needs. And gauge whether it can be conveniently fitted into your existing enterprise mobile services architecture.
In addition, it is important to use mobile BI strategically, not merely adopting technology for the technology’s sake. How? Identify the areas of your business where mobile BI can deliver a competitive advantage for you in the marketplace. For example, could mobile BI most help you achieve new efficiencies in your business processes? Deepen your understanding of customers? Spot market trends faster than your rivals can?
But keep in mind the practical implications. For instance, you’ll need to determine which devices you want your mobile BI solution to support, what those devices and data plans cost, which devices should be mobile and which not, and how you’ll support the mobile BI solution throughout your global workforce. Will users connect to the network through WiFi, or mobile networks?
Also, it is wise to tailor your mobile BI to the tablet technology instead of merely replicating your enterprise BI solution. You don’t want to make it so users have the same experience on their iPads as they have on their laptops. While laptop technology enables deep analysis, tablet computers are more about in-the-moment monitoring of business activities. So you’ll want to consider customising your enterprise BI solution to the tablet technology, rather than the reverse.
Equally critical, be clear about what users of your mobile BI solution will need and make sure you boil data down to only those metrics required to manage the business interaction or process in question at a particular moment in a user’s work day.
Finally, remember that to maximise mobile strategic value, a good place to start is determining how the tool fits into their overall strategies for business process transformation and analytics.
Posted by Soumendra Mohanty Global Lead - Information Management, Accenture