Mobile BI requires foresight

When companies learn about new, heavily promoted technologies, the rush to adoption can sometimes proceed extremely quickly, at the expense of careful planning. According to TechTarget, this often happens during the mobile business intelligence (BI) transition. While business leaders should not ignore employee-led calls to implement the technology, IT departments should have a plan in place before pulling the trigger and adding mobility.

Making it matter
Mobile BI is a tool that can deliver significant benefits to a company, especially if it is deployed with a strategic goal in mind. If leaders simply add mobile dashboards in response to calls for the technology but with no clear goal in mind, trouble could result. Consultant Jill Dyche told the news provider that many BI users could be wowed by the flashy form factor of a mobile dashboard but not consider the new abilities it grants workers. Among those is the ability to collaborate with peers, regardless of geographic location.

Les Howell, an IT manager at Illes Seasonings and Flavors, a food service company with mobile BI in place, gave TechTarget specific examples of mobility improving business processes. He noted that his company's custom application was designed for the iPad and contains many features common in mainstream Apple programs. The controls for the dashboard are large and easy to understand, meaning that workers unfamiliar with BI but knowledgeable in tablet operation can easily take to the new program.

Once companies have figured out how they will make mobile BI useful, they should implement it immediately, according to consultant David Eads. He told TechTarget that firms can benefit from a piecemeal approach.

"Find a way to get data [onto mobile devices], even if you have to do screen scrapes," he said, according to the source. "The method may not be pretty, but at least you can add value and prove out the business case on a small scale while you're working to do the heavy lifting of putting in an integration layer."

Always at work
Software Advice contributor Michael Koploy noted that the main changes enacted by mobile BI concern when and where managers can react to data. He stated that corporate leaders and sales staff can now maintain a close watch on important business data even when at home or on the road. He explained that many different BI vendors have seen the value in developing such programs, meaning that professionals in a number of fields will soon have access to a variety of advanced tools at all times.

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