Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

5 Ways to Fail At Mobile BI


I know it's more typical to see "how to succeed" articles, but sometimes knowing "how to fail" is just as important. This is the case with mobile BI. It's a relatively new phenomenon – accessing business intelligence apps on mobile devices like tablet PCs and smartphones – but I've seen enough companies fail at deploying it that I've developed a set of guidelines to guarantee failure, if that's what you're into.

So if you'd like to see your mobile BI deployment fail, read on! If you'd like to succeed and have your executives thanking you for enabling them to interact with company performance data anytime, anywhere, do the opposite of what I've seen so many companies do…

1) Skip ROI / Just do it.
The CFO is your company's ATM, right? You need to purchase 100 iPads so that your cool, new mobile BI deployment can be standardized on one device (that your CEO likes), so your CFO is obviously going to cut you a check for $60,000. Obviously not. If you really want to have a standard device for accessing mobile BI apps, be prepared to answer questions about the business benefits your company will see from buying 100 iPads or how long it'll be until the money spent is recovered through cost avoidance or cost reduction. Confused yet? Check out this recording of our webinar, Calculating ROI for Business Intelligence Projects, for step-by-step instructions you can follow to calculate the ROI of your mobile BI project.

2) Ignore existing Infrastructure.
ignoranceIt's ok if you're not sure what infrastructure your organization already has in place, right? At some point, you overheard the IT manager mention a Blackberry server but iPads are the latest and greatest so you'd rather go with iPads anyway. Good luck pitching that argument! The truth is, hardware cost is a hugely important factors for getting this project moving. If your company has already deployed Blackberry devices, go with a mobile BI solution that works for Blackberry. In the future, you may upgrade to iPads, so consider a solution that's based on web apps – meaning the applications are device-independent and can be rolled out on another platform in the future with little effort.

3) Demand that it gets fast-tracked.
Wanting mobile BI apps up and running yesterday is totally okay, right? You're so excited that you don't have time to consider information security concerns for your new project. Wrong approach! Crossing your fingers that everything will be fine is not enough. There are real risks in exposing your corporate data outside of the company walls, so take your time, talk to IT, and make sure mobile BI is implemented the right way so your project has lasting effects and the plug isn't pulled once someone loses their iPhone, and with it, your financials.

4) Invent Mobile BI Yourself.
Smartphone + web browser equals mobile BI…done! Maybe you tried getting a rich internet application that works perfectly on your desktop's web browser working on your manager's iPad and found that iPads don't support Java plug-ins. So in lieu of that, maybe you think – let's just provide remote access to a computer in the office and never turn off that computer…ever. It may be a little inconvenient, but this shortcut for mobile BI deployment is totally worth it. Trust me, this is not the way to do it. There are proven mobile BI solutions out there and they're affordable – sometimes even free. Evaluate a few and choose the one that works best for your company.

5) Just release it to everyone.
You've successfully deployed mobile BI for 10 users and everything's fine, so it's definitely time to roll it out to 1,000 users worldwide. You only need to support your local colleagues at the office, and not the additional 1,000 users across multiple time zones.  If any issues arise, they'll figure it out themselves, right? Wrong! Maybe you're not the IT person who will be up all night troubleshooting problems for your colleagues in Asia, but empathize with him or her. This is inevitably what will happen if the proper testing isn't completed. Instead, think about rolling the solution out to 10 local people first, then 10 of your colleagues in Asia, then 10 in Europe…then 100 in each location, and then if everything's fine, roll it out worldwide. Mobile BI is like any other IT enhancement – testing is the most important step. Another thing to consider is: do 1,000 users really need mobile BI? Perhaps think about paring the list down to those who actually need 24/7 access to performance data. I bet it's a lot less than 1,000.

So now you know exactly how to fail at deploying mobile BI. There are certainly more than 5 ways to fail, but these are some of the most common ways I’ve seen so far in the short amount of time that mobile BI has been widely available. Have you successfully deployed mobile BI at your organization? If so, did you follow the 5 rules on our fact sheet, How to Succeed at Mobile BI [PDF]?

Dwight deVera

About Dwight deVera

I'm Senior VP responsible for Solutions Delivery at arcplan in North America. I also present on a lot of arcplan webinars, so you can sign up to hear me - the events listing on our website is located here: You can also follow me on Twitter: @dwightdevera.