Modern websites and applications must work well for both end users and developers; they need to keep users happily engaged on their preferred device while maintaining the sanity of developers working behind the scenes. Responsive Design is an approach to web development that caters to both groups. The idea is to present the same content regardless of the device type, but the layout “responds” to the device “asking” for the content. In the business intelligence world, it means a master app can be designed one time, then slightly reconfigured for each device with very little effort – no copy and no separate app. Users get an optimized experience that keeps them coming back.*
Responsive Design is gaining traction with many organizations today due to the rapidly growing number of people who depend on mobile devices for access to business information. Mobile users cite benefits like increased efficiency and productivity, improved communication, and streamlined business processes, and 85% of IT managers agree that mobile devices make their company more efficient. Getting on the Responsive Design bandwagon is the way to ensure that your business apps meet your employees’ needs while maximizing the use of your IT team’s time.
Whether you decide to responsively design your website or your business applications – and in many cases, internal business applications are websites, including web-based mobile BI apps for business intelligence dashboards and reports – here are some of the benefits of a Responsive Design approach for users and developers…
With half of the world’s businesses expected to embrace the bring-your-own device (BYOD) trend by 2017 and more than 80% of employees already using personal devices in the workplace, it’s more important than ever to make your business intelligence mobile-enabled. In surveying our customers, arcplan has found that those deploying mobile BI cite the need to deploy apps to many devices while maintaining a consistent design and low maintenance effort. So our next platform release this Fall is built on the concept of DORA – Design Once, Run Anywhere – the ability to create BI apps one time and have them automatically adapt their layouts to appear optimized on the end user’s device. And in today’s world, that can be a huge range of devices:
But even with DORA, dashboard designers need to do some work. The process involves laying out the dashboard elements for each screen size up front so the application can call up the optimized format. So let’s review a few things you’ll want to keep in mind as you design your company’s mobile dashboards.
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.
In my last article, I wrote about why arcplan advocates Metro design for business intelligence apps. I discussed how Metro design is great for mobile BI, with speed, intuitive navigation, and motion built in. Today I’d like to address another reason why Metro (or Modern UI) design is ideal for BI apps, like dashboards, scorecards and mobile reports.
Information prioritization. It’s a concept important to every busy person. Wouldn’t it be nice if your phone or tablet would just tell you what’s important?! Now it can thanks to the Metro/Windows 8 concept of “live tiles.”
The fact is that all legacy BI today is infrastructure to manage our stuff. Organizations track thousands of KPIs – so many that we’re unable to keep track of the KPIs themselves. We’ve lost control of the “BI animal” to the point where it’s very common for designers to create new BI content like reports and dashboards, publish them, and forget what happened to them. Then the same reports get created again and again. In many cases, that new content may never be utilized because no one can find it. The result is that BI systems are simply organizing and managing “BI hoarding.”
The growing availability of tablet PCs like the incredibly popular iPad, as well as the Motorola Xoom and BlackBerry PlayBook underscore the fact that the term ‘mobile’ applies to more than just phones these days. Users flock to purchase tablet devices for a number of reasons – they’re hooked on the latest and greatest technology, they see value in having a lightweight yet powerful mobile PC with them on the go, or they love their tablet’s battery life as compared to their laptop’s. Whatever the reason, the explosion of tablet purchases opens business intelligence to a whole new platform. Sure, your mobile BI app is likely available on smartphones, but it can have even greater capacity on a tablet.
Mobile apps for tablets are hot. Dresner Advisory Services’ Mobile BI Market Study (which includes arcplan Mobile) reflects the importance of mobile BI on tablets – respondents identified iPad as their primary deployment platform. Along those same lines, analysts are predicting that widespread BI adoption will be possible because of tablets, not smartphones due to inherent inadequacies in smartphone functionality and design for larger analyses. So the trend is clear – businesses are moving toward mobile BI and there’s a great interest in deploying on tablets.
Why tablets? Certainly convenience, ease of use, and the cool factor have something to do with it. They seem to have taken off among the executive set – we’re in so many meetings lately where everyone has an iPad on the table. As of January, Apple claimed that more than 80 percent of Fortune 100 companies are using or testing iPads. The mobile workforce, including remote sales teams, see the advantage of having a tablet with them when they’re out in the field either to take orders or to access sales data from their own BI systems. Our partner SAP has even deployed 3,500 iPads to employees in the field, allowing them to connect with their own business intelligence software for instantly updated information.