[caption id="attachment_1068" align="aligncenter" width="618" caption="Mobile B.I. apps could drive a lot of companies to buy a whole lot more support hardware."] [/caption] Business intelligence is already mobile in many respects. Oracle, Sybase (an SAP company), IBM, and a variety of smaller vendors all offer apps capable of delivering analytics data to an iOS device. However, as with any segment of the tech industry, there’s the potential for the relationship between mobility and B.I. to grow and deepen over the next few years. This will be driven in large part by the continuing shift from PCs to smartphones (and tablets) as workers’ primary computing device. Increased bandwidth capabilities, evolved cloud services, and more powerful mobile hardware will also contribute to mobility’s growing weight (metaphorically speaking, of course). During its Sapphire Now conference in Orlando this week, SAP announced a variety of mobile productivity apps, including ones for inputting work expenses and accessing client data while on the road. SAP also used the event to tout the ecosystem surrounding HANA, its in-memory database technology, and one doesn’t need to squint too hard to see how the company could soon mash together mobility and business intelligence, its two abiding interests, into a seamless whole. Other big IT firms recognize the growing importance of revenue to their bottom line. “IBM’s mobile technology appears to have a home at the company’s core, and is considered a strategic play with lucrative market opportunities,” Bola Rotibi, an analyst with Creative Intellect Consulting, wrote in a May 16 research note. “IBM’s mobile enterprise play clearly opens up great opportunities for the company in delivering and supporting mobile application strategies that target the Business-2-Consumer and Business-2-Enterprise segments.” And IBM is another company intent on a decisive business-intelligence play. For example, it recently acquired Vivisimo, a move that outside analysts viewed as a way to speed up its analytics initiatives, strengthening its other tools for working with data across the enterprise. Although IBM has displayed some caution in plunging into the mobile market, it seems inevitable that its B.I. foray will manifest some mobile aspect. The collision of mobility and B.I. could require larger enterprises to add additional layers of complexity and infrastructure to their organizations—potentially a major roadblock to adoption, even with businesses reportedly spending more on B.I. despite tight IT budgets. Smaller companies without the ability to scale could very well turn to a vendor like IBM, Google, or SAP to meet their mobile B.I. needs; however, mobility also introduces questions about security and collaboration that will need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. In essence, mobile B.I. could make the worker on the road far more powerful than ever before. But adopting it will almost certainly require a good deal of work and planning.