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.
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…