What makes Mobile BI so special?

Not only has the iPhone4 and iPad releases been big news this year but recently there has been a lot of discussion about Mobile Business Intelligence.  We have seen this in Blogs and over the weekend at the Pacific Northwest BI Summit.  This trend in discussion has been growing as the number of BI vendors bringing their mobile products to market increases.

What has struck me is that there seems to be a perception that Mobile BI is a new segment and somehow different from the rest of BI.

Well it shouldn’t be.  Lets face it no one is getting excited about ‘Mobile Email’ or “Mobile Web Browsing”. Why? Because everyone recognizes that mobile refers to the device and not to the activity being undertaken or the content being consumed.

iPhone Business Intelligence Application

The same is true for Mobile BI, it is just another delivery mechanism for your BI content. The users of Mobile BI are not doing anything different from those that access their reports from a laptop. In fact they are probably doing less given the tiny screen size they have to work with. The mobile BI user is a consumer not a producer.

So lets think about what this means.
What makes Mobile BI mobile?

I would argue the key criteria for Mobile BI is ’device independence’ – this means accessing a single version of your BI content on all devices.

Just like you don’t reformat email for the phone you should not have to re-write or specifically re-format your reports for your mobile device. As soon as you do that you create re-work, duplication and introduce additional administrative headaches. Your BI platform should be able to deliver the same content to any device without the need for you to specifically rework it in anyway.

So if you see a Mobile BI app that is either disconnected from your core BI platform (think about shared security), or prompts you to create new content you know its not mobile but well and truly locked down to a specific delivery platform.

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