Business intelligence is evolving in ways that improve efficiency, productivity, and the bottom line for companies of all sizes. Combined with major innovations like real-time data access and mobile technology, BI is truly driving the success of leading organizations. The Aberdeen Group's recent report, Decisions on the Move: Mobile BI 2013, surveyed the state of mobile business intelligence and found that "leaders" enjoy benefits like a 2.3-times year-over-year improvement in sales revenue and customer retention, and a 70% improvement in operating profit over "followers." The benefits of mobile BI are both practical and tangible, but some companies are still standing on the sidelines, not taking advantage of the mobility that their BI platform likely facilitates. So let's address the misconceptions that keep some organizations lagging behind when it comes to mobile BI:
It can wait 'til I get back to the office...
The proliferation of mobile devices has opened the floodgates for an "always-connected" society. We can argue about whether or not that's a good thing, but it is the state of business these days. Allowing yourself to think that business questions can be tackled once you're back at the office is a mistake – one your competition may not be making. Mobile BI empowers your executives, field teams, off-site workers, and sales managers to be productive, attending to time-sensitive information and making impactful decisions no matter where they are. Certain decisions – or at the very least, status checks – can't wait until these road warriors get back to their desk, especially when dealing with vendors and customers in different time zones. The work day isn't confined to 9-to-5 if you've got coworkers, customers and vendors spread across the country, or if you're global like arcplan. Leading organizations realize the value of mobile BI's ability to give workers access to decision-relevant data day and night. I'd never suggest that you tether yourself to your corporate metrics 24/7, but for the times you really need that information away from the office, mobile BI is invaluable.
Mobile BI is just an excuse to wield cool gadgets...
The employees who tap, pinch and swipe their way through the day do so for good reason. They're checking in on business operations, updating store inventory in real-time, or drilling into the key performance indicators relevant to their line of business. Yes, it's cool to get a free, company-issued iPad, but that iPad enables a lot of important decisions based on real-time analytics.
Gartner says that by 2015, over 50% of mobile BI users will rely exclusively on mobile devices for insight delivery, and that mobile BI will grow BI users by 20%. That last stat is music to my ears. The industry often laments the fact that business intelligence use is low – often around 20% of potential users – but mobility can extend BI's use to more workers who need it. Not everyone has the capacity to perform data discovery and heavy analysis, but so many people can leverage dashboards with relevant KPIs on a mobile device.
In fact, the demand for mobility and the efficiency it provides is so strong that even if there is no budget for company-issued mobile devices, many people are using their own devices anyway. Half of the world's companies are set to embrace the BYOD trend by 2017. Mobile gadgets are so integrated into our lives, there's barely a line between personal convenience and business necessity anymore. So go ahead and wield that cool gadget. I'm sure you'll thank your iPad dashboard the next time you need to make a quick decision armed with the latest data.
Smartphone+ web browser = mobile BI, right?
This may be a good time to check out our previous post on 5 Ways To Fail At Mobile BI. Mobile BI is not as simple as accessing a desktop version of a BI app on your mobile web browser. If you've had the misfortune of such an encounter, you'll remember that the app was difficult to read because the font wasn't sized appropriately for the screen size, you had to do a lot of scrolling, and the functionality was designed for a mouse, not a finger. According to Aberdeen's report, successful companies use the principles of responsive design to deploy mobile BI apps that fit the screen size, resolution, and orientation of the end user's mobile device. They understand that mobile access requires special design considerations that differ from standard PC access, so users can navigate through business data with ease.
Back in 2011, smartphones purchases outpaced PC sales worldwide, and tablet sales are set to overtake laptops for the first time in 2013. It seems that everyone – including your competition – has mobile devices at their fingertips. Mobile BI is primed and ready to go – you probably have a use case for it and your vendor likely offers it and has references to back up its value in improving productivity, efficiency and ultimately the bottom line at organizations like yours.
Be a mobile BI leader, not a laggard. Here are some resources to help you: