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Mobile Business Intelligence: 9 tips for success
28 Jul, 2011 - Lachlan James

A recent study of more than 1000 IT leaders in the US and Canada has found that almost half of IT executives are not confident in their Mobile Applications (MA) (49%) or Business Intelligence (BI) (47%) strategies.

The quarterly IT Executive Outlook survey, conducted by technology services company, TEKsystems, in conjunction with the Inavero Institute, reveals that only 24% of IT leaders saying they are ‘somewhat’ or ‘extremely’ confident in their BI strategies. Only 22% are ‘somewhat’ or ‘extremely’ confident in their MA strategies.

Respondents listed their primary reason for low levels of confidence in their BI and MA intiatives as lack of enterprise-wide strategy (61%).

“IT leaders do not feel that IT, the business and the enterprise as a whole, are in sync on strategy,” notes TEKsystems Director, Rachel Russell. “This is a critical gap, as our experience shows enterprise-wide considerations and proactive workforce planning greatly increase the probability of a business initiative’s adoption and success.”

Conversely, those IT leaders who report strong confidence in their BI and MA initiatives cite that their strategy is clearly aligned to business needs (51%) and they have enterprise-wide buy-in for the endeavour (62%).


IT executives not confident in achieving ROI for BI and Mobile BI

Additionally, the majority of IT leaders surveyed do not expect more than 25% Return on Investment (ROI) on their BI (56%) and MA (51%) strategies.

“These findings relate to the fact that most leaders lack confidence in their chosen strategies and therefore cannot confidently forecast ROI,” said Russell. “Our findings reveal that only 12% of those surveyed expect to achieve ROI over 100% within Mobile Applications and Business Intelligence, which underscores the concern that IT executives have about these strategies and their benefits going forward.”


9 tips for Mobile BI success

The results of the IT Executive Outlook survey indicate that there remains a significant level of doubt, or even scepticism, surrounding the implementation and adoption of mobile information sharing strategies and technologies within the enterprise. In response, we’ve compiled nine tips for success for those considering Mobile BI:
  1. Get onboard or get left behind: Respected industry expert, Howard Dresner, stated in the wake of his most recent Mobile Business Intelligence Market Study that advancements in technology, shifts in information consumption and the rapid up-take of mobile data sharing strategies within many organizations, have led him to conclude that Mobile BI is the new platform for BI itself.
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  3. Choose a vendor that offers browser-based and native MA: With the continued adoption of HTML 5 to support device-based caching, the debate between delivering reporting and analytics remotely via a Web-browser or device-specific application will continue. Select a BI application that offers both to give you flexibility. Whatever the choice (and it must be a unified one), ensure that the needs of the information consumer (rather than the report writer) dictates your chosen approach.
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  5. Secure your data assets: The prevalence of mobile computing and information sharing at the enterprise level brings with it a plethora of new security risks. Ensure your data is secure at the application and device level.
    1. Application: Your BI application and its accompanying mobile platform should easily integrate with existing security protocols to support authorization and authentication. It should also be 100 percent Web-based to ensure no data is stored on the actual device.
    2. Device: A password protection system on the device should guard against unauthorized access to sensitive business data. Additionally, an automatic lockout system should log users out from a dashboard or report after a significant period of inactivity.
    3. Broadcast security: Establish and ensure a clear method and system for segmenting mobile user groups based on their specific job function and information needs.
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  6. Interactivity on-the-go: Give users the ability to consume, analyze and interact with business data on their mobile devices the same as they would from their PC. Select a Mobile BI platform that offers a range of native applications for major operating systems to allow users to filter results and reports, drill-down and through data, as well as comment on and share reports to make critical business decisions in real-time.
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  8. Device independent: Your chosen MA should support total device independence to ensure higher rates of productivity and faster ROI. Users should be able to log into their existing BI account and gain instant access to their report content remotely, without the need to re-create content for the mobile platform, or repackage it for mobile distribution.
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  10. Take advantage of native mobile device features: Many popular tablets and smartphones (including the iPhone, iPad and Android family) have amazing intuitive functionality such as multi-touch interfaces and generous screen sizes. Select a mobile platform with native applications that support this highly beneficial functionality.
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  12. Carefully consider who actually needs Mobile BI: Not everybody in an organization needs Mobile BI. Carefully establish specific user groups based on their likely need for reporting and analytics on-the-go. Many departments or job functions will not need to address problems in real-time or are almost entirely desk-bound – the point of enabling such user groups with Mobile BI is moot.
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  14. Define which information will be useful remotely: There will be limited or no benefit in consuming certain data types remotely. Establish the specific benefits of being able to consume specific types of information from mobile devices. Carefully identify which alerts, reports and dashboards are capable of driving performance or mitigating risk by being received on mobile devices.
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  16. Establish ROI: Outline the expected business benefits of Mobile BI pre-rollout (enhanced productivity of user groups, etc) and match them with both initial and ongoing costs (mobile devices, software, hardware, maintenance, etc).


So why is Mobile BI not a gimmick?


How can you be sure that this isn’t just another vendor flogging its horse towards another hard-fought win?

Well, we all know that BI is a growing industry. But the growing importance of Mobile BI has just as much, if not more, to do with technological change. Portable computing devices are becoming more widespread and powerful. People, socially and professionally, are adapting to take advantage of the opportunities that these exciting advances offer. The way we work and play is changing – this is nothing exclusive to the BI industry.

For example, what would you do if I asked you to research something? What action would you take? What’s your first port-of-call? 15 years ago you might have gone to the library. Today, the Internet, in partnership with Google, holds all the answers to your questions (even the ones you haven’t thought of yet and never will). Change is inevitable. So why not reap the benefits of first-mover advantage?

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