Mobile dashboards and apps connected to business intelligence (BI) has generated a lot of discussion these days. Everybody's trying to optimize their operations and keep track of progress...or lack thereof. Both are supremely important to profitability and your career, so coupling your contributions to the bottom line is more important now than ever and using readily accessible information to make good business decisions, perhaps over WiFi or 3G, on a mobile device is definitely a good thing.
Kalakota Then and Now
Business trends strategist Ravi Kalakota had a solid discussion on integrating mobile devices with business intelligence, in his article "Mobile BI – Business KPIs and Dashboards 'On-The-Go."
Kalakota points out that there are two types of business intelligence users: executives and employees. The executives want to keep an eye on the company's health and the effects of different business decisions, while employees in operations, sales and support need to see key metrics for their particular area of responsibility. Seems like broad areas of opportunity to me. Has anything changed since Kalakota's article was published last year? Of course.
- According to Forbes, tablet sales are expected to hit 118 million units in 2012 compared to roughly 60 million units, in 2011.
- Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is going mainstream. I saw a great example of this trend, first hand, at the recent Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC). I estimated that 1 in every 5 attendees, in any given conference session, was using a tablet.
- The line between the tablet and smart phone remains blurry and may be that way for a while. Samsung's talking up it's latest Galaxy III model, which looks to be a real powerhouse. It'll sport a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, 1280 X 720 resolution on a 4.8 inch display, front and rear cameras, and an 8 hour continuous usage battery.
Clearly tablets and these new steroid-phones are here to stay. The instant-on and high ease-of-use capabilities make them ideal for dashboard and BI applications.
Experiments for the Adventurous
Here are a couple off-the-wall ideas that ambitious developers might want to try to gather information on mobile usage among executives, partners and clients:
- Ask them what they think of the iPad or Android tablet and how they use them.
- Are they getting timely information?
- Does it present a useful picture to them?
- Is their corporate interface easy to use?
- Are the tablets and smart phones saving people time out in the warehouse?
- Can they use mobile business intelligence to make sound business decisions?
- What are the bottlenecks?
- Why are some people resisting the mobile trend?
We're just in the beginning of mobile business intelligence integration and developers play a key role. The hardware and software are maturing quickly and are rapidly creeping into everyone's lives. I think this sector represents the largest opportunity in IT for the foreseeable future.