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Business Intelligence in the palm of your hand

July 5, 2013 • Opinion

CIOs and CEOs are increasingly forging new, collaborative relationships with technology users, giving them freedom to make IT decisions, and teaching them how to assume responsibility for those decisions.  And rather than focusing on controlling, or loosening controls on information, they are rethinking their approaches. What’s really behind this consumerisation of IT trend? In a word…mobility.

Glen Rabie, CEO of Yellowfin. (Image source: Yellowfin)

With the advances in bandwidth, storage, and processing power, the tools an average consumer can purchase are extremely powerful. Even as recently as five years ago, mobile phones weren’t that impressive and didn’t offer much in the way of business application. Today, however, business professionals are demanding the use of smartphones and tablet PCs to keep up to date with business information.

“As a result, data mobility is fast becoming the norm, rather than a specialised set of applications. An increasingly dispersed and technologically savvy workforce means that custodians of corporate IT need to plan information and data management strategies with shifting working habits and mobility front-of-mind,” says Glen Rabie, CEO of Yellowfin.

He explains that the convergence of Business Intelligence (BI) and mobility, resulting in the capability to deliver data anytime anywhere, has been well underway for some time. “The definition of mobility needs to be much broader than simply referring to the use of a mobile device. Mobile BI is the capability of the organisation to deliver relevant and timely data to anyone, whenever they need it, wherever they are, regardless of the device used to access that data. On the one hand, there is the mobile worker who is physically mobile, and requires remote access to information assets. This is the traditional definition of mobile BI. However, there is a fast emerging group who are device mobile. These users regularly switch between laptop, desktop and smartphone, but are not necessarily out in the field.”

This modern definition of Mobile BI includes the concept of device independence. This is a critical distinction, Rabie says, a distinction that warrants careful consideration and has a fundamental impact on how organisations should plan for and implement a Mobile BI strategy. Gartner analyst Ted Friedman believes that mobile delivery of BI is all about practical, tactical information needed to make immediate decisions – “The biggest value is in operational BI — information in the context of applications — not in pushing lots of data to somebody’s phone.”

According to the Aberdeen Group, a large number of companies are rapidly undertaking mobile BI owing to market pressures such as the need for higher efficiency in business processes, improvement in employee productivity (e.g., time spent looking for information), better and faster decision making, better customer service, and delivery of real-time bi-directional data access to make decisions anytime and anywhere. As a result, Mobile BI is reaching a new level of maturity.

“Mobile devices such as Apple’s iPhone and iPad, as well as the emerging fleet of Android smartphones and tablets, deliver users a rich reporting and analytics experience straight from their pocket. As devices mature, and the functionality and usability of those devices approaches that of a traditional desktop, we will continue to see convergence of applications across devices. As devices have matured, BI vendors such as Yellowfin, have delivered applications that take advantage of those devices. Mobile BI needs to be supported through rich clients on similarly high function devices,” says Rabie.

These trends, and their impact on business, are some of the topics that will be covered by Rabie at ITNewsAfrica’s upcoming ICT Business Intelligence Breakfast, to be hosted on 16 July 2013 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Rosebank, Johannesburg.

Staff Writer



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