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Businesses Are Mobile – BI Should Be Too

In the mobile-first world where businesses operate 24 X 7, workers are mobile and demand up-to-date data information anytime, anywhere, one phenomenon that has seen substantial growth is Mobile Business Intelligence. Businesses have been relying on BI tools to capture and make sense of their data to deliver business value. However, with the data pool increasing incrementally with greater smartphone adoption and the rise of newer data sources such as social media, mobile applications, mobile internet etc., enterprises realized the need of a BI tool that could keep pace in the age of mobile. In 2011, Gartner had published a report that stated that by 2013, 33% of BI functionality will be consumed by a handheld device. We are very sure that the adoption is much more than that today. Given the mobile scenario, enterprises are now looking towards leveraging mobile BI solutions to improve business outcomes across geographies, organizational size, and verticals. As mobile adoption in the enterprise increases, it is becoming quite apparent that soon most customers might not use a PC or laptop version of an application at all. Additionally, mobile BI gives enterprises the advantage of faster decision making by enabling shorter response times. It is because of this change in the mentality that mobile BI is on its way to becoming a primary BI model.

According to a report by Research and Markets, the mobile BI market size is “estimated to grow from USD 4.08 Billion in 2016 to USD 11.13 Billion by 2021, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 22.2%”.  The main reason for this growth can be attributed to the transition from traditional BI techniques to advanced BI techniques where analytics are in step with the mobile age.

What is Mobile BI?

Mobile BI allows desktop business intelligence applications to be used on a mobile device. Mobile BI applications aim to optimize BI reports and allows the workforce to access data, business intelligence, data analysis tools through their mobile devices. Mobile BI solutions allow the workforce to access, sort, manage, compartmentalize and visualize information and data in real-time and also allows them to integrate data captured by the mobile devices on the fly. Given that most business intelligence applications are cloud-based, mobile business intelligence facilitates greater collaboration as they can access information anytime and from anywhere. Will Kelly of TechRepublic states, “Mobile BI apps can help democratize business intelligence and put instant access to sales, logistics, product, and customer data into the hands of mobile workers, like salespeople and field engineers. In addition, you don’t need to be a report writer to pull data out of a mobile BI app, which makes it an ideal tool for an executive team who might lack the technology skills but still need access to corporate data.”

Since mobile solutions are more user-friendly, simple to use, and more intuitive, it helps in better utilization of business intelligence. Mobile BI, thus, makes it easier for companies to access critical information for business decisions to the point at which those decisions are actually made especially for those in IT, sales, operations, finance, Human Resources, and marketing. Given the heavy data dependencies, industries such as banking and finance, financial services and insurance hold the largest BI market share. Healthcare and life sciences too are increasing their data usage and need to store and manage the data coming from several sources such as healthcare devices and EHR’s used across healthcare organizations. Hence their mobile BI utilization is also on the rise.

Why is Mobile BI rising in the popularity index?

The importance of clear, timely, and accurate data can never be overstated in today’s data economy. Good data insight can impact customer experience, the profit margin, and growth opportunities positively and that can only be done when the workforce and decision makers can monitor, analyze, and interact flawlessly with the data – irrespective of their geographical location. As the consumerization of IT continues, mobile users want data access without the latency and want all the relevant business information through interactive, intuitive and visually compelling mobile applications. With mobile BI, the workforce can:

  • Access up-to-the-minute data on a real-time dashboard
  • Generate interactive reports on the spot on the mobile devices
  • Query and calculate massive data sets with sub-second responses
  • Combine functionality such as predictive analytics with device data such as from a GPS or internal clock
  • Combine location data with business data to identify new business opportunity
  • Improve operational efficiencies and supply chain analytics
  • Optimize content delivery on mobile devices for anywhere, anytime access to allow the workforce respond faster to changing circumstances
  • Create an architecture that extends grids, graphs, enterprise reports, information dashboards etc. onto mobile devices that eliminate performance bottleneck and scalability roadblocks.

With the proliferation of smartphones and smart devices, increasing mobile and wireless infrastructure spends, and the growth of mobile internet usage, mobile BI can no longer be an afterthought for the enterprise. At the same time, organizations have to ensure that their mobile BI initiative is not an exact replica of their desktop BI solution. In order to do so, organizations also have to ensure that their existing mobile BI initiative fits in well with their mobile strategy, assess that the business case for each feature of the application is well defined, and have strong and robust data access and data security guidelines. Gartner Analyst Daniel Yuen aptly states, “Mobile use may now be the most significant consumer technology when it comes to improving BI adoption. Although mobility enables BI to attract users and reach new constituencies in an organization, ease of use and an engaging experience are the critical success factors for determining implementation success.

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