The Death of Business Intelligence

Can SAP & Sybase together meet the expectations of mobile users?

The race is on to get everything you can do on your computer on your mobile device, especially business intelligence. But, are companies looking at what users want from mobile BI or are they pursuing the goal for the sake of it?

Mobile Computing

The hot topic in computing right now is mobile computing. The race is on to get everything you can do on your computer on your mobile device. Everything can be brought to a mobile device, or so we are meant to believe. The SAP and Sybase merger announced last week as all about the mobile functionality and bringing data to users wherever they are. While there are multiple unanswered questions in this merger that other bloggers have dealt with, no one seems to be addressing the key that opens the lock box of a mobile data user’s happiness, quick communication. The method of delivery, the application, the functionality, has to be so smooth that my finger can move the information around and have so few chains attached to it that my mobile browser and more importantly any mobile connection has to be able to handle it.

A Certain Fondness for SAP

Now I have fond memories of trying to dig out relevant bits of information using SAP. At the best of times I was able to take multiple coffee breaks waiting for my final results. The process was complicated, long and arduous at the best of times. While I enjoyed the time getting a coffee, I’m not sure how I feel about starting into my mobile phone waiting for the information I need to appear. Also, what happens if I get a call, the connection will cut out and then will I have to start the query all over again?

I don’t know how a SAP business solution will look on a mobile device. The merger just happened, and after some of the comments I have heard from SAP executives, I wonder if anyone at SAP really knows. But what I know is that in order for me to want to use any analytics software on a mobile device the software had better ensure that what is happening at the backend of the system doesn’t interfere with what’s happening on the front end. The time to value on a mobile device has to be almost instantaneous. If I have to wait around, staring into my mobile phone like I have had to do on my computer, you better believe I won’t bother.

Gathering and processing data needs to not only be fast but it has to be easy. The number of steps from query to answer should be minimal. If I need to access multiple systems and make cross dimensional queries from a mobile, the platform needs to also be able to do that simply and easily.

Mobile BI can work

But that’s not to say I haven’t seen some great BI applications on a mobile device. Performance Canvas mobile BI server for instance offers users the ability to view dashboards, mashboards and scorecards from any web enabled mobile device. I tried their free online demo and I surprised with how quickly I was able to manipulate data in dashboard. Mobile BI does exist and it can be quick and easy, so I do have hope.

We know business users need to access information on-the-go, its what made Blackberry so popular. Is the SAP/Sybase merger going to make this happen? We are all waiting in anticipation to see.