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BI on the move


The Financial Year by Finyear -- Decision making happens not only in the back office or the boardroom. Decisions are made on the road, in the warehouses, at client meetings and airport lounges. The decision makers often need quick access to a few key metrics shown on a mobile device. This can reduce decision bottlenecks, increase business process performance and enable broader input into the decision at hand.




BI on the move
Mobile business intelligence (BI) has the potential to transform corporate decision making when combined with business processes that are also mobile enabled. Gartner predicts that by 2013, 33% of BI functionality will be consumed via handheld devices.

Until the release of the Apple iPad in April 2010, BI was struggling to gain traction on handheld devices, mainly due to the small screen size of the devices at the time. While simple charts could be shown on the screen, the corresponding text was often unreadable and the user had to constantly zoom in and out of the chart to understand the larger context, among many other challenges.

Tapping on tablets

That all changed when the BI vendor community saw the iPad as the ideal BI consumption device. The end-user community also saw the gesture-driven tablet as the ideal device to bring highly interactive BI applications to the front line.

Although the original focus of organizations was firmly on the Apple products, Android and Microsoft will be alternative platforms. Whatever the choice, the time for mobile BI is finally here. The adoption and use of multi-touch media tablets in addition to smartphones, has the potential to disrupt the overall BI platform market, including product design centers, software, controls and user interface design. BI dashboards on mobile devices are fundamentally touch-enabled versions of their siblings running on a desktop or laptop computer. However, some vendors are adding BI-specific gestures for the tablet platform.

We are only at the beginning of mobile BI. There are many potential enhancements to currently available devices and applications. Devices will turn into more than visualization gadgets and become transactional platforms. The inclusion of mobile versions of statistical or data mining models for the execution of all sorts of algorithms will enable better planning and what-if scenarios directly on the tablet, without any connection to a server.

Mobile conduit

By 2013, we will see a variety of use cases from diverse industries, such as retail, healthcare, manufacturing and transportation. Many BI applications will have gone far beyond simple information delivery, essentially turning the mobile device into a processing platform, where information flows to and from the device.

On the flip side, there is a cost. Although the software is mainly free with the BI platform, there needs to be an investment in devices (capital expenditure) and bandwidth (operating expenditure). Rapid adoption of mobile BI can also lead to increased pressure on back-end systems that may need to be upgraded.

There is no doubt that mobile BI draws much attention as it could have a big impact, however Gartner believes the adoption of BI technology will lag behind somewhat, despite the proliferation of mobile devices. This will be most organizations' first attempts at figuring out the proper use cases for mobile BI. At the same time, organizations are still struggling with rather mundane BI issues and are not ready to invest in yet another idea, however cool it may appear.

Bhavish Sood is a research director with Gartner's Technology and Service Provider Research.

Lundi 18 Juin 2012
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