Mobile Business Intelligence
One of the final domains for BI is the mobile arena. Just how justified
is it for BI to be extended to mobile devices. When one considers
the nature of information provded by BI, it is not that likely that
users will want to run analytical queries from their PDA.
However, receiving alert messages is another matter. Operational
BI relies on fast reponse to alerts triggered by key event points
along a process chain. This in turn relies on the availability of
key personnel to receive these alerts in a timely manner. In spite
of many operational managers being onsite - few remain sitting at
their desks for any length of time. Mobile devices are not only
valuable when used out of the office, but are also a discrete channel
for communicating with key personnel during their attendance at
meetings or walk arounds.
Real Need of Marketing Play
So is mobile BI 'the next big thing' - I don't think so. Mobile
communication platforms already extend email alerts to mobile devices
- hence the critical link to the alert receivers desktop/laptop
is already in place. Any other BI functions are best run from desktop
or laptop PC's - regardless to whether access into centrally hosted
BI tools is via the corporate intranet, extranet or Internet.
In many cases, I would suggest that BI Vendors have been promoting
mobile BI with little evidence of any real market demand. Mobile
BI is more likley an attempt at product differentiation than real
customer value contribution.
When Mobile BI Works
The next step in this debate is in determining the escalation hierarchy
of the alerts and what information should and can be included in
the alert message. Early attempts by MicroStrategy to squeeze summary
alerts into tiny screens provided useful templates across every
mobile device known at the time. For alerts to be effective, they
should be used sparingly - otherwise they recede into a background
of beep spam .
Beyond action alerts, Channel managers and Sales managers find
it useful to receive mini KPI alerts during campaign periods and
even for standard daily sales data. It is not difficult to send
out small KPI databases with a simple UI to see small reports and
charts on the move, even offline. This may also be supplemented
with the abilty to execute short, simple queries on demand, to check
key numbers. Beyond that - the tiny, low-res screens on mobile devices
are just not suitable for serious analysis or dashboard display.
In technical terms, mobile BI would just be an extension of an
existing in-house BI deployment, with a subset of users getting
mobile access, in addition to their normal desktop/Web access. There
is no need for any special architectures or cloud computing.
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