Over the last week, I’ve been discussing the items you should consider before jumping head-first into mobile business intelligence. You can find Part I here and Part II here. Today I’ll evaluate the final 2 items that might be the most important yet – architecture and security.
7. Mobile architecture plan
This discussion is a bit technical, but it’s important to understand the basics. If you’re approaching mobile BI from the business side, you’ll be able to intelligently discuss this topic with IT. I recommend a VPN (virtual private network) architecture to our mobile BI customers. It’s the easiest to set up and it supports the growing BYOD (bring your own device) movement. Most devices already include VPN capability without the need to install software to make it work. VPN solutions involve sanctioned and managed connections to the corporate network. All traffic over the VPN is encrypted, so even if your users are on a notoriously insecure network like airport wifi, the corporate data they’re looking at on their mobile devices is secure.
Here is a typical mobile BI VPN client configuration:
From a reliability and performance perspective, these deployments are identical to traditional desktop/laptop clients connecting to the company network. They would require users to login to the VPN, but that extra step is worth it to protect access to corporate data.
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.
Join arcplan on Wednesday, May 30th @ 2pm Eastern for our free webinar on Developing Your Mobile BI Strategy, presented by our SVP Dwight deVera. This webinar walks decision makers and IT teams through everything they need to consider before deployment.
Mobile BI is still new in the business intelligence world, but the hype is starting to wear off as more success stories come to light. It’s now part of every conversation we have with our customers and potential customers. Mobile BI rollouts are getting more and more aggressive according to Howard Dresner’s Mobile BI Market Study (October 2011). With 68% of respondents saying mobile BI is either “critical” or “very important” to their business, it’s time to lay out some practical advice for deploying it this year.
- 5 surefire ways to fail at mobile BI
- 6 elements your mobile BI strategy needs to cover
- A comparison of Web vs. native apps
- Real-world security considerations and how to mitigate them
We’ll also host a live Q&A at the end of the webinar.
You’ll come away from this presentation with everything you need to build your organization’s mobile BI strategy. Join us on May 30th to learn how to get your mobile BI deployment off the ground the right way the first time.
Hope to see you there.
Mobile business intelligence is a necessity for executives, remote staff and sales people who need access to business-critical data at all times. Its benefits are numerous and go beyond return on investment. They’re often intangible and hard to describe (and therefore it’s sometimes hard to justify a mobile BI investment). There are many articles from the CIO or CEO’s perspective, but we wanted to hear directly from business users. So we surveyed arcplan clients and compiled a list of priorities for an effective mobile BI solution from the users’ perspective. Their priorities reflect what users around the world expect:
1. Value Beyond ROI
While management insists on concrete ROI for business intelligence expenditures, users are more concerned with the value of BI solutions in their lives. Mobile BI derives its value by delivering at-a-glance views of business-critical information at all hours of the day or night so whether users are traveling, in meetings, or in a different time zone, they can grab their smartphone or tablet PC and get information that helps them take action.
As BI (literally) moves into the hands of business users, it delivers another important benefit: freedom. Specifically, mobile BI gives users the freedom to view reports as needed, without help from IT and without the limitation of an office setting. Mobile BI users include account managers en route to client sites, supervisors on the plant floor, and store managers who never sit behind a desk – all of whom need data to make decisions at all hours of the day. With mobile BI, different work schedules no longer stand in the way and users become more self-sufficient with the freedom to access information anytime.
3. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
The “BYOD phenomenon” refers to users who bring their personal devices into the workplace and connect to the corporate network. It allows users to mix business and personal applications on their own mobile devices rather than carrying separate phones and tablets for work and life. Many mobile BI strategies allow for BYOD so users who prefer Android can use those devices even if the company regularly issues Blackberry phones, for example. In order for this strategy to make sense…
Accessing information from mobile devices is becoming second nature for business users and executives who need to be connected to performance data 24/7. We’ve seen predictions from Gartner heralding 2012 as the year of mobile BI explosion, where employees will bring their own smartphones and tablet PCs into the workplace. As the number of organizations that have implemented (or are planning to implement) mobile BI increases, there are mounting concerns about mobile security. Lack of control of downloaded applications, lack of centralized server management, and virus protection are some of the concerns that come to mind as business users tote their shiny new personal tablets to work.
Let’s examine more closely how your IT team can handle these issues:
The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon. Understandably so, many of us (myself included) have begun taking our own devices to work. Tablets and smartphones can be remarkably efficient for business users on the go, and sometimes it’s just easier to have your personal and business information on the same device. Since the company doesn’t own the device, there is no legal way of controlling what apps an individual can download. However, exposure to malicious software (malware) can pose a tremendous threat to business information. One way to address this concern is to whitelist applications so users have a selection of applications to choose from that IT approves. Employees can still use their devices at work, but within IT-sanctioned limits. IT may also ask users to install a mobile security package to help detect and remove malicious applications.
Mobile device security. Data breaches are a very real threat to data stored on mobile devices. This risk may seem obvious, but accidents do happen. Employees may inadvertently leave their smartphone or tablet in a cab, or at a Mexican restaurant while on a business trip (the arcplanner responsible shall remain nameless), complete with company confidential information.