With the increasing popularity of mobile devices in daily life, workers have become accustomed to switching between gadgets according to the task at hand – smartphones for calls and quick searches, tablets for web browsing and e-mails on the go, and laptops for more time- and labor-intensive activities. But switching devices in the workplace is not always so effortless, especially when it comes to using business intelligence (BI) applications.
A new wave of design options is changing this, making it easier than ever to build and deploy BI apps that can be used on any device without the need for extra development – apps that are clean and modern, and designed for quick consumption of data and taking action. This article covers the trend toward two design concepts: Responsive Design and Metro Design, both of which are essential to next-generation BI applications that increase productivity on all devices. I'll also explain how arcplan's BI solutions are leading the way.
In 2013, users will come to expect "BI anywhere," which puts the burden on designers to create BI apps tailored not only to users' needs, but also their device preferences – particularly if the organization has a bring your own device policy (BYOD). The intelligent approach – utilizing Responsive Design principles – is to create one application (like a dashboard or report) for all devices, where the layout adapts to the appropriate screen size, resolution, and orientation. As the vendor with the most flexible analytical applications and app design environment, arcplan today provides layout management, which allows designers to define particular elements that will automatically resize and utilize the available screen space for an optimal look. Going a step further, arcplan's next major release in 2013 – code named arcplan Xenon - will offer even more Responsive Design options, including the ability to launch a completely adapted application depending on the target device.
Metro is a design language many people know from Microsoft's use of it in the Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8 operating system, but it is based on long-standing principles originating from the Bauhaus school of design. Metro Design – or as Microsoft is now referring to it, "Modern Design," correlates well with a Responsive Design approach, particularly because it takes advantage of the various input options of different devices (mouse, keyboard, finger, and stylus).
Business intelligence apps that are built with Metro principles – that is, typography-based design that packs vast amounts of information into neat, highly interactive interfaces with easy navigation as primary goal – do not require a Windows 8 system or any Microsoft product. They utilize the latest Web technologies such as HTML5 and CSS3 to make applications work seamlessly on any device. arcplan's development environment – even its mobile design framework – makes BI app creation even easier, with a
drag-and-drop interface and immediate previews of how the design will look on various platforms (iPhone, iPad, Android, etc). arcplan's October release, arcplan 7.5, offers additional enhancements that incorporate Metro Design elements, including Live Screenshots that mimic Metro "live tiles," where users can view real-time data at-a-glance from the home screen. Users can then drill into the actual report for further details.
Responsive Design and Metro Design are the latest and greatest ways that business intelligence technology is maturing, as software vendors try to make their platforms more efficient and user-friendly, and organizations look for ways to ensure wide-spread adoption across the enterprise. As arcplan's own platform evolves, the goal is a unified user experience across all arcplan products on all devices – reinforcing its guiding principle that BI software should simply work.