One of the hottest topics in software and user experience design right now is a concept formerly called Metro, now known as Windows 8 design. It’s a design language popularized by Windows Phone 7 and further developed in, you guessed it, Windows 8. And it’s the latest paradigm shift in technology design, which is now all about users being a click away from their most needed information and interacting with content in unique ways.
Windows 8 design differs from traditional user interface (UI) standards, whereby access to content was controlled by keyboard and mouse actions and files could only be organized in folders or subfolders. The Windows 8 interface is a typography-based design created to speed up usage by eliminating extraneous graphics in favor of large tiles with clean typeface. It’s “content as UI.” The goal is to allow users to navigate smoothly and intuitively, even on mobile devices.
Since Microsoft came out with this design standard, arcplan has moved in its direction, favoring tiles, saturated colors without shadows or reflections, and easy-to-use navigation. We’ve incorporated “Metro” design concepts into our product demos, free trial, and arcplan Mobile BI apps. As we’ve been influenced by this new UI, many others have as well. It’s offering a fresh approach to software development that is transforming business intelligence dashboard designs, especially those for mobile devices.
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.