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Mobile Business Intelligence Shows Its Requirements, Potential

One of the most striking details of business intelligence evolution over the past decade has been its ability to add other great concepts to the fold. From the cloud to the democratization of software use, every avenue has been explored in an attempt to get insights to their recipients more quickly. One such exciting feature has been the integration of mobile access. Now, users who are away from their desks have a view of  the latest numbers in the form of efficient and powerful dashboards. This technology is not quite mainstream yet, but the sense is that there are big things in the pipeline.

Demand for Mobility
A recent Enterprise Apps Today piece used data from a few different surveys to determine what the climate is regarding mobile BI adoption. Whereas BARC's Carsten Bange cautioned that the traction for mobility is not there yet, a Dresner Advisory Services study found there was an uptick of interest in the solutions in 2014. The source reported that Dresner detected slightly reduced valuations of mobility in 2013, but that the blip didn't last. More than just going back to old levels, professionals' assessments of mobile BI were more positive in 2014 than in years past. These potential users seem to be discovering what mobility can do for them.

Business leaders who are better prepared for mobile BI use could find themselves with better results. According to Enterprise Apps Today, Dresner found organizations have begun to make informed decisions about the shapes their BI plans will assume. With this level of understanding, acquired over time, it should prove possible for firms to integrate mobility into their analytics strategies. In fact, Dresner reported that BI has become the second most important type of mobile app for businesses as of the latest survey. Only email access was rated more vital.

Freedom to Travel
Today's BI applications have begun to catch up with the interest in taking analytics on the go. Necto 14, for instance, sports a browser-based mobile version. Since all it takes is a browser to boot up this interface, iOS, Android and Windows devices can all gather insights. This is important in a technological climate that is split between the major operating systems and is unlikely to consolidate any time soon. Equipped with Necto's suite of security features, the mobile version is a huge help for an employee who wants or needs to be away from his or her desk. The demand for responsive mobile BI is being met through such solutions.

BI Development Still Ongoing

The march of progress is present in the types of business intelligence software deployed in workplaces around the world. This makes sense: Companies today define themselves by their IT footprints, and BI remains relevant no matter the industry or subject matter. Therefore, it's natural that analytics programs will receive close attention and a selection of great features. Organizations are filling their decision-making processes with an infusion of data, a move that seems to have made it impossible to go back to making choices via intuition – after all, if rival companies have a direct line to their data, firms without such access could be in trouble.

The Current Wave and the Next
There are many different trends flowing through the BI ecosystem at any time. Its evolution is not a one-sided process, nor is it one that can be completed all at once. IT Business Edge contacted one of its industry partners to determine where the feature development timeline is now and where it will be later in 2015. The source noted 2014 had its own share of futuristic upgrades, focusing on granting capabilities such as mobile BI access and the use of big data sets instead of the structured groupings that have traditionally held that role. Of course, time's march has made those elements a part of the milieu and brought a new crop to the fore.

As for the year at hand, the content displayed on dashboards may be set to shift. IT Business Edge reported that specialization and simplicity are on tap in the way data is displayed visually. Dashboards present representations of abstract numbers that make them immediately accessible and useful for the employees who need to act on the conveyed information. The source noted that any sort of general dashboard containing every metric needed by anyone in the company will be too complex, bordering on unreadable. A series of dashboards that each target a specific role can give better insights.

The Future is Here
While customized and well-designed dashboards are being presented as this year's new trend, they have already arrived. Necto 14, for instance, allows its users to see only the facts that impact them directly. This means that CEOs and other top officials can have the zoomed-out view that allows them to act in the interest of many departments at once, while highly specialized workers delve into their own verticals with drill-down metrics to make snap decisions accurately. This sort of personalized experience is part of the bedrock that supports true self-service BI.

Next few years will see new business intelligence priorities

Business intelligence software is not just a tool that hurries companies toward one goal. It is a flexible type of solution that conveys a huge advantage via the ability to make every decision better. This means elements as varied as marketing, human resources and customer care are all fair game for this improvement. Organizations should take note of developments in this field no matter what their direct purview may be, because as long as there is a major choice just ahead, there is probably a BI algorithm that can help leaders get to the bottom of it. After admitting this importance, potential users should ask whether there is a current BI product that fits their needs.

The next steps are being taken
Datamation, commenting on recent research into BI, explained that this is a time when products need to take on new forms to appeal to the aforementioned potential adopters. Some of the media buzz that once surrounded BI algorithms has been taken by big data solutions, including those that don't fit the conventional definition of BI. However, that doesn't mean the process of BI is somehow outdated or no longer important. The source specified it will always have a role and described some of its evolutionary steps.

The news provider explained that there is a revolution in usability on the horizon. Instead of being more esoteric and complicated, BI dashboards will find their stride by giving good data access to all types of employees. This is an innovative concept that could shorten the time between asking a question and putting the answer into action. Datamation also suggested that mobility is a big breakthrough that's on the way. The news provider explained that while server-sized power is still needed to crunch BI numbers, portable devices can be used to show the results of calculations and give workers a flexible access point to BI results.

The next wave is already here
Of course, leaders reading Datamation's predictions should be aware that developers are already addressing the futuristic ideals named therein. Necto 14, for instance, has been developed to allow mobile BI use and supports customized dashboards that suit the many different types of users who will be busying themselves retrieving data. This solution is designed to make self-service BI a reality instead of a far-off goal, with each member of the team getting his or her own snapshot of the relevant facts. This type of access allows companies to reach their targeted agility levels now, rather than waiting for the future.

BI wields untapped potential in manufacturing

There are only two types of industries when it comes to business intelligence: those that have already hopped aboard the bandwagon and those that could do so in the near future. The fact of the matter is, examining and using internal and external data as a source of corporate advantage is an extremely broad purview, and companies that can accomplish this process will be very well-positioned to succeed within their own fields, whatever those may be. Retail is an example of a vertical that has made a commitment to analytics and is reaping the benefits. Others are behind, but that simply means there is potential to grow.

The manufacturer transformation
Heavy industry and manufacturing can make use of BI but, according to Automation World's David Greenfield, surveys have shown organizations to be hesitant. These firms have displayed lower rates of BI use than would be expected based on its high media profile in the field. Greenfield presented the results of a recent study put out by ARC Advisory Group and the publication that contained the latest real and expected use of BI. He indicated that few organizations are currently broadcasting their use of BI in the manufacturing sphere, but those that are doing so already have big plans for the future.

According to Greenfield, visual access to data is poised to become a trend. This is in addition to mobile versions of BI software that can be accessed on the go. As Automation World reported, ARC Senior Analyst David White said that there will soon be a move into mobile, with certain types of professionals receiving an especially strong boost. This includes operational managers, whom White indicated are often traveling to inspect various elements of their companies in person. He hinted they can take tablet devices into meetings or carry these with them on the main floor and use BI through those avenues.

Powerful solutions await
Many of the IT products in the analytics space will apply seamlessly to new industries that open up, and some offer the advanced features professionals are looking for. Necto 14, for example, sports a mobile interface that lets users check on their updated dashboards from wherever they may be at the moment. It is also capable of making sense of the large and unsorted information stores that are becoming common within organizations. The big data movement is one of the most compelling forces within the BI sphere at the moment, and Necto lets users take their own approach to this concept.

Observing business intelligence’s future

While business intelligence has become an established presence in the IT world, that doesn't mean it is set in stone. Every day, executives are pushing the envelope with this technology, committing to the ideas that have powered the software and enriching their own operations. Tracking these trends may be hugely important for leaders planning their next steps. Falling behind competitors is an unfavorable outcome for businesses that want their BI products to make them into leaders and take them to the top of the proverbial heap. Analytics products are one more tool organizations are putting forward in their struggles to become prominent in their chosen markets.

The year ahead
A recent Customer Think piece contributed by Gleanster's Ian Michiels broke down some movement users can expect to see in the BI field over the next 12 months. Michiels stated that features such as mobile and self-service capability will see demand in 2015. This is a form of continuity, as both functions were also part of the milieu in 2014. The author noted that there is a movement toward products that involve more levels of organizations than previously had BI access. Instead of waiting for specialized users to crunch the numbers, professionals of all stripes are performing analytics.

The source noted that the current BI market favors organizations that think of what they need to accomplish when they buy their software rather than simply chasing an abstract idea of great BI. This makes sense because the decisions facilitated by BI will ideally be directly tied to everyday operations, the types of functions that will help companies move up in their markets, unhindered by guesswork. Michiels posited that the years ahead will be based on decisions powered by data rather than intuition, a general shake-up with the potential to change fields wholesale and increase the value of good BI even further.

Choosing a new product
Getting to the bottom of today's BI market means settling in with strong technology. Organizations that want to chase the trend favoring BI use at all levels of the company can go with Necto 14, designed to change its visualizations to suit the many different roles that make decisions affecting the performance of a firm. From the sales force, who can call up relevant data on their mobile devices, to the C-level, unique combinations of figures make selections clearer. Intuition is outdated as a business tool, and using it can convey disadvantage. BI programs present and future circumvent it.

Business intelligence features gradually improving

While it's normal for business intelligence processes to be in place at leading organizations today, providers aren't resting on their laurels. Now that BI is a standard part of the IT toolkit, the challenge is procuring new and better processes – ones that can handle different types of data and inspect it in new and different ways, delivering insights employees can use in their everyday roles. The winners and losers of the productivity stakes over the next few years may be determined by which leaders can secure powerful BI deployments for their organizations and which come up short. In any case, now is a great time to examine trends in the market.

Preferred features for BI
A recent report by Kable highlighted some of the overall trends that are affecting the way BI products are designed and used. These solutions are far from stagnant, as the underlying technology is growing incrementally stronger and there are always ways to extract new and helpful insights from content. According to the source, this is a critical moment for BI. Organizations are finding use cases for the technology beyond the highly-trained IT leaders who have traditionally worked with it. In the past, these workers would field requests from all other interested departments. Now, there are many new ways to work with information.

The more employees and organization types harness BI, the better – making decisions without input from high-tech solutions is simply an unnecessary undertaking today with great options on the market. The source indicated that there are also big opportunities in mobility. Kable explained that mobility can be more than an extension of BI that is mainly performed on PCs and companies are striving to make mobile BI a unique and compelling experience on its own. This means new options and ways to work with content on the go.

A compelling new option
Organizations looking for their next major BI deployment can consider the list of features offered by Necto 14. This solution offers touch capabilities that make the mobile experience useful even if users don't touch base often. Rather than just checking data, they can manipulate powerful visualizations and stay plugged in on the go. These capabilities can be tailored to the preferences of individual users in various roles, meaning that Necto also supports the expansion of BI beyond the IT department. From the C-suite to marketers who go for long stretches without returning to their desks, there are graphs and charts to suit every employee group.

Business intelligence and mobility, together at last

Today's technology trends are growing into one cohesive unit. The office of tomorrow will be emboldened by a combination of cloud technology, big data access, mobility, self-service technology and highly evolved forms of business intelligence. These trends support one another and, when taken together, will provide a solid foundation for effective enterprises. Companies that refuse to change with the times run a very real risk of being left behind by their more capable peers. To stop this happening, it's time to both embrace new tech paradigms as they develop and and combine them until they work in tandem and provide real benefits.

Mobile tech combines with business intelligence
Becoming a BI expert once involved a few inflexible solutions that were only accessible through an on-premise locations, demanded expensive computing power and worked with a limited range of structured data. Today's tools are shedding all of those limitations. Tech Republic contributor Will Kelly recently explained the state of the mobile BI market by speaking with a few officials from the field, and noted that there were once "technology gaps" keeping mobility and BI apart. These divisions are now closing, with BI developers building in ambition and hardware growing more powerful. Soon, mobile and BI will be natural partners.

One of the experts polled by Kelly, Ran Van Riper, explained that today's tools present interfaces that can connect users to information more effectively than previously. While there were once severe limitations around who could use and comprehend BI, with user-friendliness not figuring into the formula, the balance has shifted. Now, information is highly visible and comprehensible, even if the screens displaying it are smaller than users have become accustomed to. Kelly suggested that eventually, delivering results of BI programs through mobile portals will be a natural extension of their capabilities. When that happens, he stated, old-fashioned reporting will end.

Selecting powerful technology
Fortunately for organizations that want to make the transition to the new way of doing business now rather than a few years down the road, applications have already emerged to deliver a synthesis of powerful and advanced features. For example, Necto 14 is accessible through a variety of mobile devices and delivers results assembled from a huge number of sources, including both structured information and the big data that just about every organization has stored in its various departments or external locations. Dealing with trends in BI means choosing the right solutions, as weak technology has no place in departments hoping for process improvements.

Visualization can help translate analytics insights

What good is data if no one can understand it? Business intelligence suites were created to answer that very question, turning huge amounts of corporate data into useful material for decision-making. However, in some cases, processes may not go far enough. Answering business questions with a string of incomprehensible figures won’t solve anyone’s problems. Organizations need to find a way to not only process a huge range of information sources but also present the results in a coherent and sensible way. Data visualization techniques, employed by some of today’s leading BI suites, may be the answer to this quandary, representing an evolution of the analytics concept.

The case for visualization
ARC Advisory Group recently explained that difficulty of use is keeping some businesses away from using BI. This is a huge problem, as the technology can provide expert guidance and seems on pace to become an industry standard. The source went on to note that there is little time to get users up to speed on solutions that aren’t immediately resonant. If the technology fails to catch on at many levels, it may end up having a minimal impact on company culture. ARC explained that this is where interactive graphics come in, resonant to look at and updated often.

The perception of analytics without a visual element may be poor. According to ARC, managers may not prioritize learning to read a stream of raw insights from BI processes that are not user-friendly. This makes sense in a way, as there are many things for these leaders to take care of today. Still, if there’s one source of information that should be heeded, it’s the output from BI. Graphical interfaces and vibrant visuals can take several forms, and companies should choose the one that’s right for them. While ARC suggested a few that were limited in either functionality or industry, other solutions are more universal.

Getting the right visual features
One major benefit of visualization is the potential to expand BI use well beyond power users and place the software in everyone’s hands. Solutions such as Panorama Necto 14 leverage these techniques to this end. The software can deliver a number of different selections of data in a visual format, either tailoring the graphs to the specialized needs of business department staff members or the more trained eyes of the longtime analysts. There are also ways to ensure that many employees see a current infographic, allowing leaders to spread their findings to every department that can benefit from them.

Mobile BI is a best practice

It's not enough today to have a strong business intelligence program. These processes need to go beyond their vanilla configurations and add something new to the mix. It could be a connection to the cloud, access through mobile devices or anything in between. There are numerous advantages to be gained by transforming a program to fit a company's own identity, and adding advanced functionality is one way to achieve that ambitious but promising goal. In a world where nearly every organization is a capable BI user, the very few experts at the top of the pyramid seem poised to become leaders.

The case for mobility
A recent Business 2 Community post compiled by GetApp from research from its partners demonstrated that there is a strong case to be made for applying mobile BI features, no matter how early in the deployment process it is and whatever the size of the adopting company. The source explained that mobility features add agility and reactive responses, with the entire field on the brink of a full-on conversion to mobile. If it is possible to transfer strong and functional dashboards to various mobile screens, there is no reason to keep employees within their offices. This also fits with the concept of self-service BI, with users taking their new software anywhere they go.

Mobile BI may seem like a next-step sort of technology, the kind to come back to in a few years. That time, however, has already passed. The source implied that organizations should be picking up their mobile strategies now to prepare to face the challenges ahead. If competitors aren't yet mobile enabled, the extra agility could be a helpful benefit. If they are, these features will likely be necessary just to keep up. This is the mark of a solution seeing its moment: Companies without it will seem antiquated rather than those with it seeming out of step with the field.

A fully featured solution
When shopping for new BI suites, potential users can inspect Necto 14, which contains a wide variety of mobile features. The handheld device market is currently fragmented between the leaders, which is why Necto works with iOS, Android and Windows. The same program is available across laptop computers, tablets and even smartphones such as the ever-popular iPhone. Business today is being carried out remotely and on the go, which means analytics tools should be available in these situations. Whenever users may need decision-making power, Necto can be there to help them succeed.

Panorama Software Announces Support for Microsoft SQL Server 2014

TORONTO, CANADA – May 13, 2014 – Panorama Software today announced it has integrated support for Microsoft SQL Server 2014 into the Panorama Necto 14 software solution. Integration with the SQL Server Platform enables users to analyze and visualize data in a unified, self-service environment.

The foundation of Microsoft’s comprehensive data platform, SQL Server delivers breakthrough performance for mission critical applications, using in-memory technologies, faster insights from data to any user in familiar tools such as Excel, and a resilient platform for building, deploying and managing solutions that span on-premise and cloud.

Necto 14 incorporates support for SQL Server 2014’s in-memory engine, analysis service cubes, as well as use of SQL Server 2014 as the Necto operational database and data source for an in-memory model. Necto 14 also allows users of SQL 2014 to add dynamic Infographic visualizations that reflects the “language” of their business.

This announcement of continued support for SQL Server builds on Panorama Software’s long-standing partnership with Microsoft. Panorama has provided out of the box integration with all major Microsoft Business Intelligence technologies since 1996, and the company’s flagship product, Panorama Necto is optimized for the SQL Server Platform, supporting both OLAP and BISM modes.

“We are pleased to announce our continued support for the SQL Server Platform,” says Tomer Paz, Product Manager for Panorama Software. “Customers deploying or migrating to the 2014 edition of SQL Server will enjoy a seamless upgrade experience and be able to use it with Necto 14 to utilize all its great benefits of Infographics Visualizations, suggestive technology, collaborative capabilities in a single governed platform.”

For more information, please visit www.panorama.com.

About Panorama

Panorama is a leader in Business Intelligence 3.0, facilitating the next generation of self-service business intelligence solutions. Panorama’s Necto product is a BI platform which is context aware allowing any type of user to interact intuitively with data within an intelligent collaborative environment. Panorama recently released Necto 14, the market’s first Business Intelligence data discovery solution to offer Infographics for Dynamic Data Visualization.

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For more information contact
Lynn Walks
Marketing Director
Panorama Software
(t) 416-545-0990
(e) lwalks@panorama.com