The Mobile BI Revolution

Jake Freivald's picture
 By | februari 02, 2011
in WebFOCUS, Blackberry, Droid, iPhone, Mobile BI
februari 02, 2011

Mobile dashboards can be very simple or very sophisticated. But good looks are only part of what will make them successful.

It’s coming, we’re told. Huge numbers of executives are getting iPads. Everyone already has a Blackberry, iPhone, or Droid. They expect to be able to do BI on those platforms.

I couldn’t agree more. But here are two things to consider, based on things we’ve seen since “small computers” were the size of a small refrigerator:

  1. If a user wasn’t an analytical user of BI on a desktop or laptop, she won’t be an analytical user on a smartphone or tablet. Those kinds of users want information, not analytics per se. When they need more information – and they will – they’ll be just as likely to call someone (they’re already holding the phone!) as to drag and drop anything on the screen. Mobile business intelligence needs to be based on dead-simple applications, not drag-and-drop tools, even more than desktop-based BI does. And having an icon only makes a program an app; it’s having a distinct purpose that makes a program an application.
  2. Mobile devices are a step forward in hardware, but proprietary applications for every platform is a step backward. Remember how revolutionary it was to say, “If you have a browser, you can run it?” Yes, behind the scenes, someone was worried about the differences between a few versions of IE and Firefox (or Netscape and Mosaic), but that was a lot better than worrying about three versions each of two flavors of Windows, eight flavors of Unix, and an AS/400. People gain a head start on the market by building cool mobile apps, but if they don’t have a keen eye on making the administrators’ lives easier they’ll eventually be dragged down by their own legacies.

So vive la revolution! But watch out for revolutionaries who haven’t learned their history, because they’re pretty likely to repeat it.