BI on-the-go to become enterprise reality

by Sohini Bagchi    Jan 15, 2013

mobile BI

Mobile business intelligence (BI) is finally coming of age. With the proliferation of smartphones and tablet PCs in the enterprise, CIOs are under compulsion to provide access to business information or data on mobile devices. In such a scenario, many organizations are embracing BI on the go.

According to analyst firm Ovum, in the past, mobile BI - solutions and apps - suffered from lack of technological advancement. But at present its enabling senior executives and line-of-business managers to adapt to a new “connected” business reality. In the current business landscape, many companies are looking for ready access to BI information in order to make quick and timely business decisions by making real-time data available.

“Mobile BI apps can provide instant access on logistics, sales and customer data. As C-suites have to travel frequently, mobile BI enables them to look for the information they require in order to make critical business decisions,” says Jaideep Ghosh, Partner, KPMG. Compared to traditional BI, he believes that mobile BI allows executives on the fly to view KPI and other text and graphical data easily on the smaller screens including smartphones and tablets.

Agrees Angshuman Chakrabarty, CIO and Director, Relaso Product Suites, “Big data and mobility are changing the face of BI, as executives and managers demand greater access to information from their mobile devices.” He adds that as the BYOD trend catches on, enterprises will inevitably continue to adopt mobile BI solutions and apps in order to boost efficiency and profitability.

However, mobile BI continues to have certain technical challenges which need to be attended for large scale adoption. Poor application performance is certainly one of the causes for the slow intake of this technology. Security is again another area where enterprises should look into. “It is important for organizations to work closely with their CIOs and CISOs to address the common vectors for enterprise data loss,” Glen Rabie, CEO at Yellowfin Business Intelligence stated in his blog.

As far as the vendor scenario is concerned, Yellowfin Business Intelligence along with other mid-sized companies such as MicroStrategy are leading the pack with feature-packed yet functional mobile solutions, while mega BI vendor SAP emerges as a top solution for iOS-enabled devices, followed by the likes of IBM and Oracle. The Ovum report reveals that while all vendors fully support the iOS platform, followed closely by Android (90 percent), there is a considerable lack support for BlackBerry (50 percent) and Windows (33 percent) devices.

According to Fredrik Tunvall, analyst at Ovum, “For mobile BI to reach a larger audience, vendors should consider supporting hybrid applications for Android and Windows devices, as both are expected to become increasingly prevalent in the enterprise, especially in the emerging markets.”
While SAP’s offering has been driven by its acquisitions of Afaria, Syclo and Sybase, and a BI roadmap that is heavily influenced by a “mobile-first” mindset, competitors IBM, Oracle and SAS are also eyeing market share. Ovum believes they have the technology and necessary development resources to improve their solutions in 2013.

“We expect BI vendors to enhance their mobile capabilities through in-house development and a continued wave of M&A activity. This will also be where we will see some of the most interesting and innovative developments in BI and analytics over the next few years,” says Tunvall.

According to Rabie enterprise mindsets are gradually changing unlike before when companies were resistant to change when it comes to new technology adoption. He believes that it is important for CIOs and CISOs to define and communicate as how mobile BI fits into the new roles in the organization and business value and follow the best practice for successful deployment. Ovum believes that an experienced partner can help enterprises take advantage of current mobile BI trends.