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After email, business intelligence is the most sought-after application for mobile devices, according to research conducted by BI authority Howard Dresner, chief research officer at Dresner Advisory Services LLC. In the first part of this podcast with SearchCIO Editorial Director Christina Torode, Dresner talks about the missteps businesses make when they take on mobile BI, and why infrastructure support should be a big part of your mobile BI plan.
What are the major obstacles to launching mobile BI?
Howard Dresner: Some of the big ones are [related to] cost. Organizations think that they have to run out and buy everybody a new tablet computer, so that’s one perceived obstacle, and the fact of the matter is it’s just not true. You can use all of the devices that are already in place.
Another factor is the whole consumerization of IT, and I know that some organizations are still battling with this. They want to dictate what the device is, and I think that ship has sailed, right? So, if I already have an iPhone, why should I have to take on another device? There’s still some folks doing that — they walk around with multiple devices. But you have to use whatever device the user has, even if you’re providing that device, until you fully have depreciated that device and are ready to buy another one. In some instances, you’ll have to buy some new devices.
In the first part of this podcast with SearchCIO Editorial Director Christina Torode, business intelligence authority Howard Dresner, chief research officer at Dresner Advisory Services LLC, talked about the missteps businesses make when they take on mobile BI. Here, he provides specifics around building a mobile BI strategy.
Assuming that companies have a mobile BI strategy in place — they have the business buy-in, they have the devices they need, they have the application — what would be the next step?
Howard Dresner: First of all, you have to look at who has the greatest need, where the demand is. Typically, it’s within the executive suite, and that’s not a bad thing. Because if you can automate or deliver business intelligence to the most senior levels of management, you have a much better shot of delivering it further down in the organization because once they see the value, they want everybody to have it. It really does change the way that organizations work because, all of a sudden, the information is right there when you need it. Of course, at the same time, there’s never a reason to not know something, so that’s sort of the downside. But you start with the folks that have the greatest need, that have the greatest mobility or are the most nomadic. The C-levels are among the most nomadic; salespeople are among the most nomadic.
Companies increasingly are looking to take analytics out of the office. And in many cases, they’re combining mobile business intelligence software with tools that can analyze location data to add a geographic component to BI applications.
But the confluence of mobile BI and location-based analysis presents some challenges for IT and BI teams that should be taken into account before embarking on a mobile location intelligence initiative.
User interface design is a crucial element of any BI or location intelligence application, but that’s especially true for mobile apps because of the screen size limitations. Simply pushing desktop versions of applications onto mobile devices is big mistake, warned Howard Dresner, an analyst at Dresner Advisory Services in Nashua, N.H. “You can’t take an existing desktop dashboard that you use in the office and dump it on someone’s device,” he said. “You’ve got to design for the device, design for the role, design for the activity.”
In mobile location intelligence implementations, it’s an easy trap for programmers to load up maps with numerous data points in an effort to deliver as much information as possible to the user. But that typically leads to information overload and an application so cluttered it can be impossible to use, Dresner said.
Business intelligence is big business, according to a recent study published by Dresner Advisory Services. The consultant firm published a report entitled, “Wisdom of the Crowds Embedded Business Intelligence Market Study” this month. Howard Dresner, chief research officer, Dresner Advisory Services, and author of the report, explained in an exclusive interview that organizations have come to regard business intelligence (BI) as an important function internally and externally.
The report defines BI as “knowledge gained through the access and analysis of business information.” Embedded BI refers to the technological capability to include BI features and functions as an inherent part of another application.
Dresner surveyed nearly 1,200 respondents from all over the world who fill a variety of roles, including in the IT, finance, marketing and sales departments in a wide range of industries at organizations of various sizes. He found that the majority of people surveyed ranked embedded BI functions as “critical,” “very important” or “important.” Embedded BI ranked in the top half of technologies and initiatives related to BI. “It was above Big Data and social media, although it wasn’t as hot as mobile. But, it’s still pretty strong,” Dresner commented.
Businesses create an abundance of data with each interaction, transaction and impression, which is dutifully collected and stored in massive databases. But it’s really in grounding the data in context and correctly interpreting it that the data becomes useful knowledge to truly help businesses run more efficiently and make better decisions.
To bring intelligence to data, the field of Business Intelligence emerged to essentially turn data into information with the aid of computing. Until recently, with the emergence of wide-scale cloud computing, BI was seldom used by organizations other than those that could afford dedicated BI and analytics staff. Today, however, we’re seeing companies of all sizes unlocking the value of their data thanks to emerging cloud delivery models.
Meanwhile, Dresner Advisory Services president and founder Howard Dresner, notes that cloud BI also offers advantages for large corporations. “Larger organizations will move to cloud BI departmentally because they won’t or can’t wait for IT to serve their needs.” This is precipitated by the fact that the cloud gives their smaller competitors near-term competitive advantages.