Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

Mobile BI’s Hype vs. True Adoption Rates


Is mobile BI more than just hype? We think so.There's no denying the hype around mobile BI. But how much of this talk is actually put into action? According to The BI Survey 10, the world's largest independent survey of BI users published this week by the Business Application Research Center (BARC), only 8% of companies using BI software access reports on mobile devices! That's a surprisingly low number considering how much BI vendors (including arcplan) have been promoting it as the next big thing, how many analyst reports and surveys have been devoted to it, and, of course, how many companies seem to be clamoring for it. Let's consider the factors that contribute to this low adoption rate and evaluate whether there's any redemption for mobile BI adoption in the future.

It should come as no surprise that the heaviest consumers of BI are the folks behind the desk. In a recent post on mobile BI, we called out these users specifically to include account managers, research analysts and finance managers – the "first to arrive and last to leave" crowd. Because their work is best accomplished behind a desk, there's less likelihood that they'll need to rely on a smartphone or tablet PC for reporting or analysis. So this huge subset of BI users can't be relied upon to be the first adopters.

Who else isn't adopting mobile BI right now? Apparently the executive set. A major reason for low adoption rates, according to BARC, is that the prime candidates for mobile BI usage – namely executives and high-level managers – are too busy to even run reports and would actually prefer to be fed information by someone else. In other words, they'd rather trust someone else to quickly tell them what they need to know.

Even with these two major factors, 8% still seems like quite a low adoption rate, so what else could be going on here? Well, we also have to factor in the resistance that pops up when talking about implementing mobile BI. The BI Survey also concludes that company politics is a major hindrance to mobile BI adoption, surpassing other factors such as poor data quality and administrative problems. Additionally, earlier this year Forrester Research also cited very valid reasons for the low adoption rate, which include the need for devices that are easy to carry, yet powerful and effective; the difficulty of making a business case for mobile BI; and security concerns, which we've also addressed on this blog.

Nevertheless, mobile BI implementations, which are low in 2011, are supposedly on the upswing for 2012. According to BARC:

  • 22% of respondents indicated that they are planning to implement mobile BI in the next twelve months
  • 27% are planning to implement the technology in the long run

Those are pretty encouraging numbers! This finding also supports what Howard Dresner reported in his Mobile BI Survey in February 2011 – that mobile BI usage is moving from planning to actual implementation, and that by 2013 some organizations will have half of their BI consumers receiving analytics exclusively on a mobile device. In fact, 60% of Dresner's survey respondents rated mobile BI as either "critically" or "very" important, and he concluded that mobile BI is widely view as a superior enabling technology. Now it's just a matter of about 2 years until "a significant percentage of users will consume BI content exclusively on mobile devices."

arcplan's testament to increased mobile BI adoption rates is the list of more than two dozen clients who are evaluating arcplan Mobile right now, which is free to customers. We foresee arcplan Mobile's adoption rate increasing in 2012 and beyond.

Mobile BI is still in relative infancy but the number of articles, white papers, surveys, and inquiries we've seen about it indicate that it's not all just hype or a figment of BI vendors’ vision for the future of business intelligence delivery. Despite the slow start, organizations are putting mobile plans into action – and the trend of utilizing more tablet PCs for business makes us even more confident – and we look forward to reporting on their results.

For more information about mobile business intelligence, check out these resources:

Tiemo Winterkamp

About Tiemo Winterkamp

I'm the Senior VP of Global Marketing at arcplan and work out of our Langenfeld, Germany office. I've worked in Business Intelligence and data warehousing since 1994. You can connect with me on LinkedIn.