Mobile business intelligence (BI) deployments are becoming increasingly popular, with many potential benefits. But there are pitfalls as well, because mobile BI requires a re-thinking of how BI works on the desktop.
A Gartner report by analysts Joao Tapadinhas and Bhavish Sood, "Strengthen Your Mobile BI Initiatives with these Ten Best Practices" offers advice for any company deploying mobile BI. As a starting point, it recommends understanding the differences between BI on mobile and BI on the desktop, and building mobile BI to accommodate them. One notable requirement is the need to mobilize the way existing BI reports are laid out so they display well on the smaller screens of mobile devices.
Also key, the report says, is targeting the right user constituencies. The report warns, "Mobile BI doesn't excel in the visualization of large data tables, elaborate information navigation or advanced analytics, hence it is a weak solution for most current BI users." It does, however, offer a "superior user experience in the visualization of limited sets of key performance indicators (KPIs), making it the ideal BI tool for many potential (non-tech-savvy) users in the organization."
Of vital importance is preparing an enterprise's infrastructure for mobile BI. Having mobile BI perform poorly or slowly is a recipe for failure. The app must respond quickly to queries. The report warns, "Two to three seconds will be acceptable, five will start to frustrate the user, and above 10 it's guaranteed that mobile BI will be avoided whenever possible.
Because there's so much less screen real estate on a mobile device than on the desktop, care needs to be taken when deciding what metrics to include in reports and dashboards. To find what information should be displayed, the report recommends building prototypes, seeing how users react to them, and then continually iterating them until you get it right.
Remember the importance of data integration
One thing not covered in the report is the importance of data integration. A BI tool is only as good as the underlying data available to be mined. That means getting data from as many sources possible, and having it available in one place. So choose a tool that integrates data well.
For example, Alpha Anywhere has its own built-in database engine but provides comprehensive back-end data access via native drivers for virtually all major database back-ends including Microsoft SQL Server, Access, Excel, My SQL, Oracle, DB2, and many more. And you can also easily connect to external environments including DLLs, OLE/ActiveX, .NET and web services, or your SQL database.
More information about the Gartner report.
Read more about the latest research from Joao Tapadinhas.
Read more about research from Bhavish Sood.
Learn more about how Alpha Anywhere helps mobile app developers easily integrate with corporate data and legacy systems.