3 reasons mobile business intelligence apps have minimal adoption in your business (and how to fix it)
Instant noodles and the on-demand life
It’s no secret that, despite the huge movement toward sustainable living, we just can’t live without some things being instant.
One such crutch for students worldwide and most of Asia’s young adult population (also the entire American prison system) are the ubiquitous instant noodles. 100 billion servings are eaten every year. It’s convenience in a cup.
Fun fact: pot noodles have even replaced cigarettes as the most traded item inside American prisons. Instant noodles are so important, inmates use them as money (and people have been stabbed over instant noodle debts).
Pot noodles are instant nutrition for people on the move, and in prisons, that nutrition is vital to staying healthy. It’s no gourmet meal, but it does give you exactly what you need, when you need it, at your convenience. It even comes in thousands of flavour variations - like cheesy curry, creamy seafood, or with a side of salsa and lime - so your personal preferences are catered for in, arguably, the most convenient hot meal on earth.
And that’s just how it should be when it comes to mobile business intelligence (BI) apps. You should be able to get just what you need from your mobile BI software in a ‘snackable’ format so you can take action on the move. And it should deliver insights of value that are personalised to your role and preferences. (Nice segue, huh?)
We are glued to our phones as a mobile working population, and everything on mobile is instant. But mobile BI apps have long operated very differently to that. Here are three problems with mobile business intelligence apps that are limiting their usefulness to your business. Then we’ll look at the solutions.
Problem 1: That’s not how we use mobile phones
Mobile business intelligence apps have long ignored the very different uses of desktops and mobile devices. Mobile BI tools have long been a replica of the desktop experience. But we use desktops and mobiles for very different things.
Desktop work is primarily for focused, detailed work - work that requires research, data discovery, and analysis. Desktop BI tools are designed to give users the ability to explore data in detail through drilling, filtering, and building new reports and dashboards. These are fantastic capabilities but, when on the move, people rarely want to use their smartphone for deep work. They want instant information that can be actioned fast.
When using smartphones, we rely on constantly refreshed feeds, we scroll quickly through headlines, react to instant notifications, and take immediate, fast action on those alerts. We post short comments on items we want to engage with and ‘like’ things that catch our eye. We may spend some time reading a long-form piece of written content too, but we probably won’t use our mobile to write one.
Mobile business intelligence apps should reflect the very different ways we use mobile devices - for snackable information we can take fast action on. Without this adaptation to the medium, mobile BI tools face a big barrier to adoption.
Problem 2: A case of a bad user interface (UI)
In a single dashboard, there is a huge amount of data available to the user. It’s often aggregated to provide a succinct view of KPIs and other operationally critical information. But that means that any exploration requires drilling and filtering. And that’s great...on a desktop.
But just you try to work out how to hover over a data point to get the tooltip when you’re using a smartphone!
The mobile UI isn’t built to do data discovery on the move. So why do mobile business intelligence apps insist on giving you the full capabilities of a desktop BI tool when all you need is instantly actionable insights, sent to you as a notification? Trying to use a full analytics platform on a tiny screen is clunky and a barrier to businesses using the BI application on a mobile device at all.
Problem 3: A lack of visibility of changes in the data
Although dashboards are great for monitoring business KPIs at a high level, they often conceal important changes happening in your data because the data is aggregated.
Your overall KPI may be being met, but did you know that there was a 60% drop in sales in France that coincided with a 30% increase in sales in Germany and a 30% increase in sales in the UK? Surely that’s worth knowing if it happens suddenly. But you can’t instantly see that on a dashboard, and it’s even harder to see that on a dashboard on a mobile device.
You need to be notified of these changes instantly so that, even when you’re on the move, you can react to the change and turn to your team to take instant action. But the traditional business intelligence software made available on your phone in an identical manner isn’t advancing your team’s ability to react to data changes on the move.
How to fix the mobile BI app adoption issues
Simply put, you need an instant noodle version of the gourmet desktop BI software fare: instant, valuable insights that deliver only what’s essential to help you take action, and it should personalise the information to your role and preferences. You need to start looking for a mobile BI app that is built for the smartphone use case.
You use mobile devices for instant notifications, fast actions, and information headlines. So you need to look for mobile BI software that delivers instant notifications of the changes happening in your data - changes that you can act on straight away using in-app collaboration tools. You shouldn’t be expected to drill and filter on dashboards that are fiddly to use and clunky to navigate on a smartphone screen in order to uncover data changes. There’s automated data discovery for that.
Machine learning (ML) algorithms are also significantly advanced enough now to tailor notifications of data changes to your user role so you only get notifications of data changes that are relevant to you. Traditional alerts triggered by pre-defined thresholds aren’t enough in this competitive data landscape. You need automated data discovery to do the digging for you while you’re away from your desktop so you never miss a beat.
Mobile business intelligence apps need to crawl out of the dark ages and catch up with how we really use our mobile devices.
How would you change your mobile BI experience if you could?
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