The bring your own device (BYOD) trend has moved from hype to reality, from nice-to-have to necessity and from business option to expectation. It’s a workplace trend that’s driven by worker demands, and as many as 60% of organizations will give in to allow personal devices in the workplace by the end of 2013. In the same way, the new era of business intelligence is driven by consumer technologies like mobility and collaboration, and that’s one of the reasons we’re seeing such an uptick in mobile BI adoption plans this year…people are simply demanding it.
Mobile BI Plans
According to a 2012 benchmark study by Ventana Research on Next Generation Business Intelligence, 53% of companies are currently deploying or plan to deploy tablets in their BI environment, a trend driven by executives who use their own mobile devices for work and are asking for support. BI vendors have been quick to respond – like others, we released our own product, arcplan Mobile, in early 2011 in anticipation of the trend.
The 2012 Successful BI Survey by BI Scorecard revealed that organizations that have already deployed mobile BI and been successful enjoy an adoption rate of 39%, much higher than industry average. BI Scorecard founder Cindi Howson thinks mobile BI “will be the technology that helps BI become more mainstream and impactful.”
In my previous post on this topic, I evaluated some of the necessary components for a successful mobile BI deployment. As with any project, planning is the most important step, so let’s continue today with 3 more items to add to your mobile BI strategy checklist.
4. Platform strategy
When working out your platform strategy, you need to consider the kinds of devices you’ll deploy your mobile business intelligence on and then what decisions will be affected by those devices. Ideally, your organization would have a standard mobile device rolled out to users, enabling centralized hardware, software, and data security. But this is the real world and that train has left the station. “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) is a trend for a reason. Before the term was coined, business users were using their own mobile devices to keep in touch with work while away from their desks, and they don’t want to carry separate work and personal mobile devices. CIOs and CSOs (corporate security officers) are beginning to tentatively accept employees using their personal devices, if only for the cost savings to the organization (going back to the ROI discussion from Part I of this article). One of the implications of this platform strategy is, of course, security concerns, which I’ll address in my next article.
5. Software strategy
This is an area that will be affected by your choice of mobile platforms. If you’re lucky enough to have a standard mobile platform at your company, then native mobile BI apps will be an option for you. These are applications specifically designed to operate on a particular device, like an iPhone or iPad. They take advantage of the native gestures of the device, like pinching and zooming. However, if you might possibly switch device standards or have one set of mobile BI users on iPhones and another on iPads, consider Web apps, which are device-independent applications that can be rolled out on another platform in the future with little effort. They run through Web browsers on smartphones and tablets, eliminating the need to create separate apps for different devices.
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.
I just returned to arcplan’s headquarters in Germany after spending the last week in San Antonio, TX for KScope, the Oracle Developer Tools User Group Conference. This was our second year in a row at the show and another fantastic experience. It’s 5 days of knowledge sharing for Oracle customers, very applicable to real-life challenges and professionally delivered by industry experts with hand-on experience. And it’s an event very different from typical vendor-driven user conferences, which tend to deliver more “marketing driven” material. Again this year, KScope felt more like “by Oracle users, for Oracle users.”
The conference is an absolute must for Hyperion customers as it provides high quality content on a wide variety of topics of interest to them, from MDX to Essbase scripting to ASO cubes. While sometimes it was awkward for the conference to straddle the varied interests of attendees – especially between Apex developers and Hyperion/EPM attendees – the various tracks helped people find their niche. While my colleagues represented arcplan at our booth, I attended many sessions and heard first-hand how attendees were benefitting significantly from the knowledge shared and planning to apply it to their own projects. The Sunday symposiums provided a compact and good overview on some key aspects of Oracle database technologies and the future of Oracle planning, data integration, financial reporting and more. Our SVP Dwight deVera was on the agenda this year, presenting his infamous hour on Calculating ROI for Business Intelligence Projects. His session was as well-received as it was at Collaborate earlier this year.
At KScope, the conference atmosphere is very open and communicative. As an attendee, it provides a great opportunity to network and engage with organizations and individuals that share your same interests. As a vendor, it’s a terrific event for arcplan. We help customers enhance their existing Oracle investments, which is exactly what attendees are there to figure out how to do.
In this webinar, we discuss:
- 5 ways to fail at mobile BI
- 6 elements your mobile BI strategy must cover
- A comparison of various deployment options, including Web apps vs. native apps and extranet vs. VPN
- Real-world security considerations and how to mitigate them
We ended with a demo of arcplan Mobile, our free mobile BI solution. Thanks to everyone who attended, and for those who didn’t, leave us a comment if you’d like to discuss anything you see in the recording.