July 5, 2012 – Mobile business intelligence is still in its early phases, but, led by a new wave of top-level executives, will rush into new adoptions and challenges over the next few years, according to a review by Gartner research VP Andreas Bitterer.

Bitterer led a review of market forecasts, possibilities and challenges Thursday entitled “Current State and Future Trends in Mobile Business Intelligence.” Gartner maintains that one-third of all business intelligence functionality will be consumed through a mobile device by next year.

For most enterprises, mobile BI adoption is currently in the “fascination” or selection phases, with more proven results from use cases and best practices to come in the next few years. The difference from other hot trends in information management is that the ease of use of mobile devices has led to interest and acceptance by executive level users.

“For the most part, when we talk to clients, it’s coming from the top-down,” Bitterer says. “These people in the high management ranks, they were never really heavy BI users. Now, that CEO only needs to know how to do two things: how to tap and how to swipe.”

Add to the executive support a new and unexpected pool of BI industry users – Gartner points to particular growth in health care and the travel industry – that puts overall enterprise device adoption at an increase of 20 percent over the next 18 months.

Obviously, this won’t be without growing pains, especially in terms of infrastructure needs, Bitterer says. To get the best benefits from mobile BI, organizations need an appropriate data model in place to bring in that mobile user information and enable access to accurate reports and metrics. Especially with taking on more users of business intelligence data, attention to governance and infrastructure related to data quality becomes paramount so that you’re not just “making your bad data look its best,” Bitterer says.

“Mobile BI, however cool it may be, it does not reduce the need for some kind of proper BI infrastructure – data warehousing, data models, assuring data integration and data quality. If you don’t have good quality in your BI environment today, mobile BI adds nothing,” says Bitterer.

In addition, constraints on device tracking and security will need to be in place to avoid privacy issues or establishing a “big brother” mentality among users.

As adoption increases, mobile BI will evolve with better analytics behind visualizations, information collection through ad hoc networks, open source data mining via R and other programs, and more depth to data through data marts and RDBMs. And as far as providers, don’t expect too many of these smaller component and aggregate mobile providers to stay in their current position, Bitterer says. The quick development of the market space has left some bigger providers flat-footed, opening up temporary niche vendor opportunities. But Bitterer says those bigger business intelligence providers will either buy up the smaller providers in the next few years, or dive into their own development, as pulling together visualizations and mobile capabilities “isn’t rocket science.”

“All of the big BI vendors will be able to replicate what all of the smaller vendors have done,” he says.

To review Gartner’s Web seminar on mobile BI, click here.

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