With Mobile Business Intelligence showing steady growth and companies seeing the benefit of having information at their finger-tips, we spoke to Martin Rennhackkamp, the COO of Prescient Business Technologies (PBT), on why it is important for companies to go mobile, have information ready and the benefits of Mobile Business Intelligence.
* In layman’s terms, what is Mobile BI?
Mobile business intelligence is the ability to make decisions on any company based on information that is sent to the user through a smartphone. There are a lot of business intelligence tools that vendors bring out, and some vendors make apps as well.
So it’s a small program (app) on a smartphone that will feed critical business information to the users, which will enable them to make quick decisions and initiate action without being in the office.
* Why is Mobile intelligence important for a business?
The big thing is that people want information while on the move and you don’t have to be behind your desk any more to get that.
It’s also important that users can act on the information that they receive, and see when something needs action. In the old days, executives received a paper report, but mobile business intelligence has changed their lives. Younger dynamic companies want to see information and act on it immediately.
* Why has Mobile BI only taken off very recently?
There are a few reasons as to why it has only taken off very recently, but most importantly is that devices are getting better by the day and software vendors are improving their apps all the time.
The first releases were PC screens sent to a Blackberry screen, but now developers are wising up and making the mobile business intelligence apps more finger-friendly. The facilities are getting better with Blackberry and the iPad, and it’s now possible to around the office and get information – it’s also become a bit of trend. The smartphone is only a major factor as to why it only took off now.
* What are the benefits of Mobile BI?
The biggest benefit by far is that the information is at the finger-tips of the users, and they will be able to act on it. Wherever they are, even on public transport, if they see something that is wrong, they can immediately initiate action to correct it. There is also another spin-off, in the sense that it mobilises the decision-makers and they won’t have to be desk-bound to make changes.
* What growth do you foresee?
I actually foresee very little growth for Mobile BI in large corporate businesses, but in the SME space I see a lot, as it’s a more liberal environment. Tablets are getting more popular by the day, and I don’t think that business intelligence on mobile devices will necessarily outgrow BI on PCs and computers – but it will still give it a good go. If you look at the popularity of tablets, smartphones and apps, the growth is enormous – it’s playing right into the hands of company executives.
* How can it contribute towards employee productivity?
Employees are more productive because they don’t have to be desk-bound in order to make decisions, as they have all the information they need with them. It can even help employees who are lower down on the decision-making chain, such as floor managers. If they can get the relevant info, they can oversee their floor more efficiently. Smaller decision-makers can also make a difference, right down to the truck driver, who will be able to access Mobile Business Intelligence information about traffic and avoid certain roads.
* What are some concerns regarding Mobile BI?
As you can imagine, security is a big concern for any company. Company information will be stored on a mobile device, and it can be forgotten on a trains or public transport – so it’s a very crucial thing to have the right measures in place. Some vendors have nifty facilities where it decouples from the server and wipes the device clean in case of an emergency.
Another thing is the consistency of information – it has to be accurate all the time. If a decision is going to be made based on info on a smartphone, the information in the office needs to be exactly the same – the info can’t be wrong. Vendors and companies need to make sure that info going out is complete and consistent. Presentation is also a key element, as it needs to be actionable.
* Who can make use of Mobile BI?
Anybody and any company can make use of Mobile Business Intelligence. It’s really for any company who wants to be agile and mobile, and who feels that it’s important for their staff to have crucial information wherever they go. There are a wide variety of apps that can be populated, while other BI tool vendors also release tools to develop specifically for organisations. And this is also where PBT comes in – we are solution-implemented and assist big companies with their Mobile BI solution.
Charlie Fripp – Acting Online editor