TMCnet Feature
November 13, 2013

Mobile Business Intelligence Catches Up With User Needs

When your business requires you or your staff members to use company data on the go, being able to navigate a mobile business intelligence (BI) app on your smartphone is definitely beneficial.

The Internet is always on, and that means business is always on too. What better way to impress clients and make healthy decisions than to have all your important data right there in your pocket or purse?

Mobile apps for business intelligence software have earned some serious attention from the business stratosphere. Companies who quickly got on board with mobile BI have had a lot to say about their experience using mobile BI apps on their iPhones, Droids, and other smartphones.

Despite the high demand for viable mobile business intelligence solutions, businesses were disappointed by the initial, rudimentary versions of this emerging technology. A quick Google (News - Alert) search for "mobile business intelligence" reveals three trends:

  1. Businesses continue to look for mobile BI solutions that deliver results.
  2. Early adopters of mobile BI are dissatisfied with early applications.
  3. Early adopters are doubting the inherent value of the mobile BI concept.

Does that mean businesses should give up on finding a mobile BI app that impresses? Not quite.

Early adopters of mobile BI have certainly expressed valid complaints, and businesses considering the new investment should be careful to study their notes. However, business intelligence providers didn't just close their ears and sit back twiddling their thumbs while users tested their products. At least the business-savvy ones didn't.

Now that providers have had time to respond to user feedback, there are much-improved mobile BI solutions on the market. Companies interested in implementing mobile BI simply need to choose the right vendor to avoid the same disappointments that turned off early adopters.

How? Ask two important questions about each app on your mobile BI short list:

  1. Is the user interface designed so that I would really use it?
  2. Can the app integrate data from third-party apps?

How user experience and integration capabilities make or break mobile BI

Gartner (News - Alert), a leading information technology research and advisory firm, concluded that small independent mobile BI vendors are far more in tune with user needs than competing "mega-vendors."

A summary of Gartner's business intelligence (BI) research explains: "The nimble little guys who tend to focus on specific parts of BI are considered to do a better job than those who have erected an all-encompassing business intelligence platform complete with a vast array of integration features."

This finding has big implications for businesses that have yet to adopt a mobile BI solution but are looking for one. It's the small vendors who are pleasing their clients. Luckily, the research also tells us why.

These vendors deliver a great user experience, and this is where early mobile BI apps have been lacking. Integration capabilities are hugely important and not to be taken lightly, but they are nothing without a user-friendly integration platform.

In his article, "3 Aspects of Mobile Business Intelligence that Retailers Must Get," Steve Wellen, a COO, shares a revealing story about the senior vice president of a consumer goods retailer who relies on mobile BI as he travels from meeting to meeting throughout the midwestern US.

Wellen explains, "In a teleconference meeting, the executive team was discussing the previous quarter's revenue. Numbers started flying around, some saying it was as much as $5 million higher or lower than the last guy's number. The SVP pulled the information up on his phone and gave the quarterly earnings down to the penny."

That's how effectively a good mobile BI user interface can work for a company.

For most businesses, the need is apparent. There has to be a better way to manage and analyze company data. There has to be a quick and versatile tool for executives to access integral information. In a word, there has to be a better BI mobile solution. The only response to such needs is to create such a tool.

This particular mobile BI vendor moved on from the either-or game between user experience and integration. Mobile BI users should take notice. Innovations like these point to a bigger trend in the business intelligence industry: Mobile BI isn't failing and it isn't going away. It's adapting to user needs, and business is loving it.

Edited by Blaise McNamee
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