At every turn, we're confronted with the reality that mobile BI is making its mark among modern organizations. Studies are confirming this, with TDWI's December research report revealing that 70% of participants see mobile analytics as an important part of their company's BI strategy. Howard Dresner's Mobile Business Intelligence Market Study found a similar number – 68% see mobile BI as either "critical" or "very important" to their business. And from my own experience with customers and prospects at arcplan, it seems as though everybody is jumping on the mobile BI bandwagon. Before diving head-first into your own mobile BI deployment, lay out a smart strategy that will ensure the project's success.
Let's consider the most basic (and important) factors of any organization's mobile BI strategy: where the money's coming from, who the project is aimed at, and what kind of BI applications are appropriate for mobile devices.
1. Return on investment
As with any other business project, your mobile BI strategy must have a discernible return on investment in order to get off the ground. In another article, we explored the 5 types of return on investment and the importance of categorizing a business project into one of these buckets. Revenue enhancement is one of the easiest forms of ROI to prove for a mobile BI project. Here's an example: one of our customers is a company that tracks the effectiveness of pharmaceutical sales reps on arcplan-powered dashboards. The data has revealed that the average sales call for these reps is only about 3 minutes long, so every second counts. One company instituted a pilot program to switch reps from laptops to tablets, which start up significantly faster, to see if this would have a positive effect on sales. It worked – the switch increased the productivity of the reps in their meetings (allowing them to pull up research studies and email them to physicians quicker). This responsiveness on the part of the devices (and therefore the reps) has led to an average sales call duration increase of over 30%. Consequently, these reps have been able to increase the number of sales for the pharmaceutical company they represent. This pilot program proved revenue enhancement ROI and stakeholders gladly signed off on the larger project (tablets for everyone!) as a valuable investment.
2. Target audience
Mobile BI's target audience is different than the groups who use business intelligence at your organization today – the analysts and finance team who are normally tethered to a desk planning budgets and performing hard-core analysis. The audience for your mobile BI project is actually the 70% of users who do not use your BI system but would want to – executives traveling to meetings, operational managers on the plant floor, and road warrior sales managers visiting clients. These users are often on the move and expect mobile BI to deliver easily digestible information, not heavy analysis capabilities (more on this in a bit). Additionally, in a recent market study Howard Dresner confirmed that eligible users extend beyond the c-suite to include middle managers, sales and marketing teams, customers, suppliers, and even front line workers who may all be empowered by the ability to interact with data in real-time to get the answers they need on the go.
3. Targeted applications
As I just mentioned, it's important to limit your mobile BI applications to consumption-focused apps like dashboards and easy-to-digest reports. No one wants to enter large amounts of data (hello autocorrect!) or perform ad-hoc reporting on a mobile device. Drag-and-drop functionality is not really even possible on smartphones. Therefore, to ensure success, your mobile BI apps should be very simple and consumption-based. They can, of course, be based on existing BI applications. For example, arcplan Mobile makes it simple to publish existing arcplan apps to mobile devices. It breaks up dashboards into separate components for easy viewing and filtering with large fonts. Check out the example image to the right.
So far, so good? Next time, I'll present even more items for your mobile BI strategy checklist.