Situation and Challenge
The current dynamic business environment requires business decisions to be made quickly and precisely based on the latest information, regardless of your location. Mobile devices enable access to up-to-date information from a BI system directly on-the-go, in the form of mobile BI. The use of mobile devices within companies allows employees to move outside a desk environment while having access to business systems and the information which is stored there. Even if a company’s regular BI solutions are well-integrated in the business, data quickly becomes out-of-date in paper reports and presentations, which results in companies sometimes presenting data which no longer conforms to reality.
By widening the use of decision support for smartphones and tablets, flexibility and efficiency increase when information can be accessed anywhere, at any time. Doing research, having the latest information and thereby giving a professional impression are strong driving forces among users of mobile BI. Target groups for mobile BI often include decision-makers at senior levels, other roles of responsibility in the organization and salespeople or other groups which are not bound to an office.
Required skills – problems with implementation
A challenge for many IT organizations is that the implementation of mobile BI takes a very long time, including everything from choice of tool to implementation of a functioning solution. The reality, however, is generally that a mobile implementation takes relatively minor effort in relation to all the collection, cleaning and storage which is already being conducted. It can be difficult to understand the opportunity afforded by increased utilization of mobile BI, which ultimately leads to increased value. It is often assumed that increased utilization will entail more work than it in fact does, which leads to mobile wishes getting low priority.
To a certain extent mobile devices also run a greater risk of being stolen, lost or left unattended in comparison to a computer. The safety aspect of devices with mobile solutions is therefore important.
The “bring your own device” trend is continuing, which entails challenges in terms of developing and managing support for several hardware and software configurations.
Structurally correct approach
An important insight is that implementation of mobile BI should not be handled as a traditional BI project. Instead it should approached as a long-distance journey, a program, with many small steps. As it is a new area for many, it is not certain that the final destination will be completely clear. Instead start with a separate benefit for a small group and build further from there.
Run a pilot and evaluate. Allow some end users to test for a few months. This time will be well invested.
Choose a platform which fits into the existing range of tools and ensure that it has a long-term design. If you want support for various types of smartphones and tablets, this must be checked. It is also important to bear in mind that the administrative burden should not be increased unnecessarily. Many mobile platforms are very well-integrated with traditional BI tools, which means that you can continue to produce content in the same manner as previously.
Mobile BI does not entail taking what you already have and shrinking it to a smaller format. It will not fit and will be difficult to see. It needs to be designed in many layers with a lot of drilling in hierarchies. When the working area is small, your margin of error is much smaller in terms of poorly developed design. It is very important to ensure that all content is at the right place and that the information can be navigated in a process-oriented manner.
Consider whether to purchase this as a service or if it would be better to integrate it as a part of the existing IT infrastructure. Many platforms currently exist as cloud services with largely the same functionality as a local installation.
Interaction with other apps on a smartphone is an important advantage. Geographical information, cameras, e-mails, etc. can often be utilized in a mobile BI application.
We have done this before
We helped the customer implement an extensive management application based on frequently updated operating and sales information.
The customer now has a tool in which current status can be identified quicker than previously, and unexpected results can be acted upon immediately. Management has a shared and updated view of the situation – a view that is not dependent on location or risky manual procedures when compiling daily and weekly reports.
A success factor has been to work in small steps and with a small scope in each phase. The first functioning version was in place after three weeks. Since then we have continued to develop the functionality together with the customer to a stage where we now fulfill very many needs in one application.