At arcplan, we like to think about what's ahead for business intelligence and design our products around that vision. Back in 2009/2010, we saw mobile BI becoming "next big thing" and developed a solution (arcplan Mobile) that we offer free to our customers. We envisioned the mobile workforce needing their reports, dashboards, and analysis with them 24/7 and that is coming to fruition, as evidenced by the reliance we all have on our smartphones and tablets.
Recently, I collected my thoughts on what's ahead for mobile BI in 2012. Recently published on TDWI.org, I'll provide a summary here and a link to the full article. I'd love to hear your thoughts, whether you're just starting to evaluate mobile BI or you've been using it successfully at your organization.
2012 Prediction #1: Mobile BI design standards emerge
Mobile BI apps will need to be designed specifically for mobile devices. They're not just an appendix to a desktop application. We really need to start thinking of them as their own applications with their own design standards. Just as we might recommend that a customer's dashboard application contain no more than 6 charts per screen, we might recommend that a mobile BI app should start with a list of reports and allow the user to drill down from there. Taking gestures, zooming, finger sizes, screen sizes and more into account will result in design standards for mobile BI apps evolving, just as they have in the consumer application market. And in the future, we'll undoubtedly see mobile BI design standards informing desktop application design as well.
2012 Prediction #2: Mobile collaboration debuts
Collaborative applications for mobile devices are rare at this point, but with up to 1 billion mobile workers in the workforce these days, we'll need to see real collaboration capabilities become part of mobile BI solutions. Think about how you use Facebook on your mobile phone. You might view pictures, comment on them, write status updates, ask your friends questions, etc. As we become more accustomed to this type of communication in our personal lives, we expect it to be available in our work lives too. Imagine asking for a report enhancement while you're on the road by leaving a comment on a report. A power user gets a notification since he's the author of the report, makes the enhancement, and comments back. Now you've got the report you really need and you've left your feedback for others to see. The good news is that this capability already exists in BI, but in 2012, we'll see it extended to mobile BI apps as well.
2012 Prediction #3: A "big gun" will return
2011 brought us even more record-breaking sales of the iPhone and iPad, as well as Android devices both for business and personal use. But soon, Microsoft will boldly return with a platform specifically designed for mobile phones that incorporates metro design. This design concept features balanced, tile-based design and clean typeface, and is being deployed not only on phones but also on the Windows 8 desktop/tablet platform. Metro design applications will offer an easy entry point into mobile BI for companies in 2012, especially those with existing Microsoft investments. Business Intelligence applications that use this design concept will be created with multiple devices in mind, which will become the most efficient way to develop and deploy applications in 2012.