The Death of Business Intelligence

Not all business intelligence solutions are created equal

Posted in Analytics, Business Intelligence, Mobile BI, Mobile Business Intelligence by neilwilson1984 on September 26, 2013

Not all mobile analytics / business intelligence (BI) solutions are created equal. There are, explains Andrew Borg, research director at Aberdeen Group’s Enterprise Mobility & Collaboration practice, two fundamental approaches, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

The first is platform specific or ‘native’ mobile BI apps, able to exploit the hardware and user interface capabilities of the specific mobile device. On the other hand we have browser-based approaches that will work on any platform, but typically have more limited functionality. The functional differences in these two approaches can directly impact the outcome of the organization’s mobile analytics initiative, says Borg in a new report on the topic.

Timely access

The capabilities of HTML5-based web apps are advancing “rapidly”, says Borg, with many similarities to native apps such as graphical, touch-based interfaces, limited device control and local storage data. However, there is scope for native apps to be more responsive, interactive and capable because they can exploit the device hardware and operating system more fully.

“For example, native apps can have more robust local data storage and synchronization capabilities, can directly access a wide variety of device hardware such as cameras or other sensors – and if designed properly, can have full functionality even when offline,” explains Borg.

Research by the group shows little difference between the capability of natives apps and browser-based approaches to delivery of timely information. But when it comes to improving year-over-year, natives apps show a much greater capacity to improve.

Organizations that use native apps as the primary method for accessing mobile business intelligence are more likely to benefit from a richer set of capabilities, including real-time data feeds, automated alerts as well as the ability to annotate, collaborate and share.

“These capabilities can help workers find the information they need, exactly when they need it,” says Borg. Drill-down is another capability offered by native apps. This enables the end-user to quickly and easily navigate from summary information initially presented on their mobile device to more detailed data.

For example, a field sales executive can get hold of vital data on a customer’s orders quickly. “For the sales rep meeting with a disgruntled customer, having the information at their fingertips is priceless,” says Borg.

Tracking benefits

Borg points out that the use of native applications for mobile analytics often requires a bit more forethought and planning than a browser-based approach. Organizations that already use browser-based BI on laptops, for example, can immediately use the same apps with any mobile browser, even if they are not yet optimized for mobile access.

“From a management perspective, the use of native mobile BI apps does add some relative complexity,” notes Borg. Decisions must be made: tablets or smartphones? Apple, Google or Microsoft? The browser-based approach is considerably easier; as Borg points out just “open up your mobile browser, and deploy”.

But native apps seem to go hand in hand with greater measurement. Organizations which take the native mobile BI approach are 53 per cent more likely than companies using a browser interface to measure the productivity of mobile employees, and 52 per cent more likely to return on investment on their mobile analytics projects.

For Borg, organizations need to weigh up the pros and cons of each. Neither is perfect, meaning businesses must carefully decide which platform works best for them.

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