Business Intelligence Blog from arcplan

How to Become an iPhone Hero – Thoughts on Mobile BI


One of the variants of Ockham’s Razor is the theory that “it is pointless to do with more what can be done with fewer.” I bring this up to make the following point: Your boss will think you’re a hero if you just give him or her some of the basic information he needs to do his job. Sometimes that basic information could be a single data point such as “sales are down in Florida but up in all other regions.”

Now picture your boss while he’s running on the treadmill at the Holiday Inn gym where he’s refused to pay the $10 internet service charge. He looks at his iPhone and notices an email with the subject “Sales Performance” with a URL inside. He clicks the URL and sees a pie chart neatly set up to fit the display on his iPhone that clearly states where sales stand as of that morning. In fact, he’s so excited about what he sees that without even thinking of it, he’ll click on the red slice representing Florida and drills down into another simple chart that shows the top 5 products bringing Florida’s number down. He even proudly displays his iPhone to the sweaty guy running next to him to show off.

And that, my friend, is how you become his iPhone Hero. Next time you’re dreaming up ways to ask for that raise, all you have to do is set up a reporting system that is simple to use, gives the users the biggest bang for the buck, and doesn’t require a PHD in physics to decipher. And then make sure it runs on your boss’ iPhone (or Blackberry). Simplicity is actually more effective than you think especially because there are just too many distractions. A large majority of your BI audience is on the road, has only a G3 or maybe G4 bandwidth, and doesn’t have time to look at the details or open a laptop to get them. Make their lives easy by providing them with a mobile BI application that helps them get their job done. Provide them the significant information from a very high level and let them interact with the application in the same way they do with Facebook or iTunes. It’s not that hard when your BI infrastructure plays nicely with all of your mobile devices.