Mobile Business Intelligence: Don’t forget the smartphone

The proliferation of Mobile BI

By now you know the truth. Mobile Business Intelligence (BI) is set to become pervasive among top performing organizations.

Gartner’s 2012 BI Magic Quadrant survey backs that forecast: “More than 20% of survey respondents report that they are already using mobile BI or are piloting it. A whopping 33% plan to deploy mobile BI in 2012. By the end of 2012, a majority of organizations should have some mobility solutions in place”.

Results from’s 2011 Business Intelligence Challenges and Priorities Survey also suggest a marked uptick in Mobile BI implementations. Thirty percent of the 249 survey participants said they would implement a Mobile BI program within the coming year. And again, InformationWeek’s 2012 Business Intelligence, Analytics, and Information Management Survey disclosed that 44 percent of respondents plan to add mobile analytics capabilities, via smartphones or tablets, to their data strategies this year.

Sixty-eight percent of survey participants in Howard Dresner’s latest Mobile Business Intelligence Market Study listed Mobile BI as ‘critical’ or ‘very important’, compared to 52 percent from the original 2010 study. The number of respondents listing Mobile BI as ‘unimportant’ dropped from 11 to two percent over the same period. Seventy-five percent of respondents to the October 2011 version stated that 21 – 81 percent of BI users within their organization will consume reporting and analytics exclusively via mobile devices by 2013. The report, compiled from almost 200 respondents, clearly demonstrates the importance organizations now place on Mobile BI.

Tablet domination led by Apple’s iPad

We’ve all heard about the marked shift towards tablets – as replacements or additions to smartphones – for mobile corporate information strategies. According to IDC, worldwide tablet shipments are set to jump from 16.1 million in 2010, to 147.2 million by 2015 – 45 million of which will be bought by businesses. More specifically, Apple sold over 32 million iPads last financial year (September 2010 – September 2011). Apple now has almost complete penetration across Fortune 500 organizations. Apple claims that almost all Fortune 500 will test and / or deploy iPads as part of their corporate information strategy during 2012. More particularly, in relation to Mobile BI, Dresner Advisory Services’ (DAS) latest Mobile BI market study also identified the iPad as a dominant platform for Mobile BI in 2012.

But, what of smartphones and Mobile BI? Have smartphones been rendered obsolete in the context of mobile analytics? With substantial fanfare surrounding the iPad – and other tablet devices – for the consumption and dissemination of corporate data, the smartphone remains a forgotten staple of any realistic Mobile BI implementation.

Mobile BI: The forgotten importance of the smartphone

It’s a fact that more people own smartphones than tablets, and that more organizations provide smartphones for employees than tablets. With this truth – and the proliferation of corporate BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) programs – in mind, smartphones (either corporate issue or personal) still represent the most realistic platform for Mobile BI.

Global Mobile BI platform priorities
DAS’ 2011 Mobile BI market study has demonstrated that a smartphone – the iPhone – remains the preferred platform for Mobile BI. Thirty-two percent of respondents to the October 2011 survey cited the Apple smartphone as their first choice platform for Mobile BI. The iPad was a close second, with 30 percent listing the Apple tablet as their preferred platform.

But here’s the interesting bit: If all the available platform options listed in the Dresner survey (iPhone, iPad, RIM smartphone, RIM tablet, Android smartphone, Android tablet, Windows smartphone) are divided into two categories, smartphone or tablet, it’s clearly evident that smartphones remain the preferred device type for Mobile BI.


Percentages do not equal 100 because respondents could select more than one option.

Sixty-six percent of respondents listed a smartphone as their first choice delivery platform for Mobile BI (32% of survey participants listed the iPhone as their number one platform priority for Mobile BI, 16% listed the BlackBerry (RIM) smartphone, 13% the Google Android smartphone, and 5% the Windows 7 smartphone).

Thirty-three percent of respondents listed a tablet as their first choice delivery platform for Mobile BI (30% listed the iPad, and 3% Google’s Android tablet). Further underlying the iPad’s domination of the tablet market, particularly for business applications, no respondents listed the RIM Playbook Tablet as their first choice platform for Mobile BI.

Actual Mobile BI deployments by platform
Dresner’s lastest study demonstrates a significant increase in interest in the iPad as a Mobile BI platform. In the original 2010 study, 16 percent of respondents were using the iPad as part of their Mobile BI deployment, with 44 percent planning to integrate the iPad into their Mobile BI strategies over the ensuing 12 months. Notably, all iPad-related plans came to fruition, with 61 percent of 2011 survey respondents saying that the iPad is now in use within their organizations’ Mobile BI program. A further 21 percent plan on adopting the iPad for mobile reporting and analytics in 2012 and beyond.

But despite the marked jump in iPad-oriented Mobile BI implementations, the iPhone still remains the most widely used device for Mobile BI, with 70 percent of respondents currently receiving mobile analytics via an iPhone, and a further 18 percent planning to deploy iPhone-based Mobile BI initiatives during 2012.

Again, despite the growing interest in tablet-based Mobile BI, 183 percent of Mobile BI deployments are currently based on smartphones (70% iPhone, 51% RIM smartphone, 43% Android smartphone, 19% Windows smartphone). Whereas current tablet deployments are significantly lower (88%).


Again, percentages do not equal 100 because respondents could select more than one option.

Planned Mobile BI deployments by platform, 2012 and beyond
Planned Mobile BI deployments for 2012 and beyond indicate a further shift towards tablets (63% of respondents say they intend to deploy Mobile BI on a tablet device), although smartphones seem set to remain the most widely used device type for Mobile BI in the near future (72% of respondents say they intend to deploy Mobile BI on a smartphone).


Conclusion: Smartphones remain the most common device for Mobile BI

TechTarget’s 2012 Global IT Priorities Survey supports DAS’ findings. The survey discovered that 34 percent of respondents plan to introduce tablets as part of their corporate IT strategies in 2012, up from 18 percent in last year’s study. Despite the substantial increase in planned tablet-based implementations, 35 percent of respondents still planned to implement smartphone-based initiatives in the next 12 months.

So, many companies seem content to continue leveraging existing smartphone devices to underpin Mobile BI deployments for practical and financial reasons. With this in mind – the continuing importance of smartphones as a crucial component of any Mobile BI deployment – look out for a big iPhone-related announcement from Yellowfin.

Can you guess what it is?