Today more than ever, people rely on mobile phones for conducting day-to-day business. IDC predicts that this mobile workforce will reach more than 850 million in 2009, representing more than one-quarter of the worldwide workforce.1

 

With the increasing numbers of people operating outside the traditional workplace, coupled with increasing innovation, the mobile phone is swiftly becoming the new business platform of choice over PCs or laptops. Today’s on-the-go work environment has created a demand for virtual connectivity and the ability to access important business information wherever workers may be.

 

As business goes mobile, integrated business intelligence (BI) and performance management applications permit ongoing organizational productivity outside the confines of office walls. BI applications are now more widely available on mobile devices, making critical business information available on the go and enabling more effective, efficient decision-making as well as increased business agility from the palm of one's hand.

 

Executives can now view business performance reports and business managers can navigate productivity reports for real-time status updates with ease on a mobile device. For example, a business manager viewing a table of the recent product inventory will see the same exact table that appears on his or her desktop, adapted to fit the specifications of the organization’s mobile platform of choice.

 

If you are able to access valuable business information and core systems via mobile devices, the result is increased productivity with fewer location-based restrictions. This trend is moving rapidly beyond email to other applications, and it includes strategic information gleaned from performance management systems.

 

Coined by industry analyst firm Gartner, the term “consumerization of IT” best explains how users are increasingly viewing and interacting with technology and strategic information outside the traditional workplace. Mobile users are able to access pertinent business information like never before, including BI dashboards, scorecards and reports that in the past were only accessible via an office desktop. These might represent the quarter’s sales progress, customer service satisfaction results or retail operations in a particular geography. This consumerized, flexible delivery of relevant information over mobile devices lends greater business efficiency in management areas to support increased accessibility, continuous decision-making and higher levels of productivity.

 

Same Information, Same View, Different Location

 

Traditionally, advanced software has required specialized training, which costs organizations time and money. With today’s mobile platforms originating from the consumer electronics world and its associated focus on user-friendliness, mobile workers have the ability to view and interact with business-related data just as they would in the office or at home.Developers are also quickly turning existing applications into parallel offerings available in a mobile environment, which also reduces training time.

 

Mobile BI is no exception.It is highly adaptable to the needs of the individual organization or user and delivers sophisticated functionality to mobile workers in a way that people want to see, hear and experience. Whether the users are executives looking for their daily dashboard of global productivity results or delivery service providers tracking the information and status of important shipments, mobile access to key performance information increases productivity by putting core business information directly in the hands of the users, regardless of where they are.

 

A Guided Tour and Beyond

 

Once BI capabilities are adapted to the organization’s needs, users are offered a thorough guided experience to further optimize their view of business performance. BI applications allow users to be self-sufficient in building simple reports and performing their own analysis. Guided analysis provides controlled navigation using predetermined report prompts and drill-through paths. Reports can be navigated intuitively for each user, and native mobile device functionality is utilized so users can easily see, interpret and interact with the necessary information as is most suitable for their mobile environment. Advances in native mobile device functionality can also be incorporated easily into mobile BI applications.

 

Once a mobile BI application is established according to organizational protocols and the guided experience is fully explored, users have the freedom and flexibility to independently explore, analyze and share information at a rapid pace.For instance, mobile BI is not based on HTML, which requires constant connectivity. This distinction provides even faster, more efficient and secure connections. Mobile BI is also adaptable to the users’ chosen environments.In addition, mobile BI offers users several significant capabilities beyond those that are standard in BI applications, such as report transferring and the ability to work offline.

 

The typical downfall of custom-coded dashboards is that there is a high cost to build and maintain them. Managed dashboards with an at-a-glance view of business performance, however, are better equipped and provide a summarized view of key metrics, reports and alerts so that the same data is available with less attention needed for maintenance. In today’s mobile environment, it is imperative that these same reports and dashboards can be viewed and manipulated on a mobile device. For example, an executive using a Web browser to transfer reports needs to wait to refresh while each new link is loaded, and with such Web-based solutions, the user needs to be connected to view. With mobile BI, however, once the report is identified, it is automatically uploaded and the user is notified as soon as the transfer is complete for immediate viewing in a much shorter amount of time.

 

Perceived Limitations

 

Accessibility and bandwidth may be perceived as issues when it comes to mobile technology, but BI solutions provide advanced functionality to predict and outperform such potential challenges.While Web-based mobile BI solutions provide little to no control over the processing of data in a network, managed BI solutions for mobile devices only utilize the server for specific operations. In addition, local reports are compressed both during transmission and on the device, permitting greater flexibility for storage and receipt of these reports. Within a mobile environment, users capitalize on easy access to information because the mobile application operates within a single authoring environment that permits access to all BI content (respecting existing security) regardless of language or locale. Furthermore, the user will not need to build and maintain a separate mobile BI deployment.In addition, mobile BI requires much less bandwidth for functionality.Mobile BI promises a small report footprint on memory, encryption during transmission as well as on the device, and compressed data storage for offline viewing and use.

 

Moving into the Future with Mobile

 

In today’s fast-paced, on-the-go work culture, with the number of mobile workers continuing to rise in organization’s worldwide, mobile BI plays an integral role. With mobile BI on workers' belts, organizations can improve productivity and increase decision-making efficiencies.Mobile workers can quickly access operational and strategic information about customer orders, product performance, and business and analyst reports that impact their day-to-day job responsibilities regardless of location or environment. With a guided experience and information in context, they can find, share and act on information when they need it most to help the business make faster decisions and further its competitive advantage.

 

References:

 

  1. IDC, “IDC Finds Global Mobile Worker Population Will Increase by More Than 200 Million Users between 2004-2009.” IDC, October 12, 2005.

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