Mobile Business Intelligence (BI) covers solutions that enable delivery of BI content or information via dashboards, KPI scorecards, reports, charts, alerts, messages to a mobile platform. The mobile platform includes both Tablets and Smartphones.

Almost the same content can be delivered to Tablets and Smartphones, but Smartphones are more appropriate for BI content consumption and Tablets are suitable for both consumption and the creation of BI content.

There are four parameters that are critical to be considered in selecting what has to be delivered via Mobile BI initiatives. They are as follows:
1.User
2.Content
3.Style
4.Context

User:

We need to know who the users of the Mobile BI are. One key criterion is to look at users who will be on the move and need critical information for immediate decisions. Though practically we could consider delivering BI content to all BI users, there are situations like the synchronization of mobile native apps and data security which will place restrictions on the Mobile BI Infrastructure available for all users.

Content:

We need to know what information the selective users need. Where does the required information reside? What can it be delivered? How up-to-date should the information be?  At what frequency? These questions help select the right BI content to be delivered.

Though all of the BI content that are available on a laptop/desktop can be made available on a Mobile device, the business case for a Mobile BI initiative will be based on the users who need information on the move and the impact of the information on their work.

Style:

Once the required information has been identified, it is very important to understand, what style the content can be presented in. With limited display space, presentation makes a difference on how the right information is consumed. The delivery style usually will vary from each Mobile BI product; there have been continuous innovations in the availability of different styles of delivery from simple dashboards, short messages, search-lookup, score cards, a ticker, a deck of cards etc.

The best experience is based on the native apps on the mobile platforms which are in a way moving back to ‘thick’ clients on mobile devices from the browser based ‘zero foot print-thin’ clients on laptops and desktops.

Context:

With the mobile device, the BI content delivered is within a different context of usage due to many unique features of a Mobile platform. Some of the unique features of a mobile platform include:

  • GPS awareness enabling location analytics
  • Voice integration enabling instructions through voice, alerts through sounds/voice as well as placing calls to a person based on the report owner or a name present in the report detail.
  • Gesture based interaction makes it possible for users to look at different content and the actions that can be taken by looking at BI content. Features like highlighting a specific data from content and sending emails are much more easier and intuitive in a mobile platform.
  • Offline mode analysis when not in network coverage

BI content delivered in an appropriate style should be designed to leverage the unique features of a mobile platform. So never consider enabling a report ‘AS IS’ to a mobile platform!

Following are the key questions that these parameters address:

1. Who are the users on the move?
2. What BI content is critical to the identified users?
3. What is the best visualization for the chosen BI content?
4. How does the BI content leverage unique features of mobile context?

The BI content will be most perfect in a mobile device when it meets all the four parameters viz, the right BI Content reaches the right User in a right Style with the understanding of the Context of consumption.

Thanks for reading, let me know your thoughts on what are the other considerations in enabling Mobile BI.

Posted by Muneeswara C Pandian
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June 29th, 2012

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