The Death of Business Intelligence

BI: Bringing back business for intelligent strategies

Posted in Analytics, Business, Business Intelligence, IT, Mobile, Mobile BI by neilwilson1984 on January 17, 2014

Business intelligence (BI) is something that has been used by more and more companies across the globe in the past few years, as they look to grab the initiative and get a head start on their rivals.

However, thanks to its development as a very IT-centric notion, it has been the case since BI became a big trend for the tech people within firms to be more involved with its use than those who actually need it most.

According to Anna Young at Business2Community, BI up until now has been centred around technical uses, with IT professionals sending their BI reports to IT bosses. She said this is an issue that leads many businesses to not get the most of their investment.

To solve this, Ms Young said, companies need to realise that they should be bringing the business back into BI, allowing those who make the big business decisions within companies to have the final say on how it is used and how the results are utilised.

So just how can the trend be reversed so that BI works for firms and gets them the most for the money they have put in?

User friendliness

Because of its basing in IT, one of the biggest hurdles that many companies will face is the fact that the tools are not user-friendly for those who are not tech-savvy. They can be hard to work with, and are often discarded or passed on to someone else. This shows the need for tools that are easy to understand and straightforward to utilise.

Self service

For small companies in particular, the full scope of BI will not be needed to get the desired results. However, it can often be true that they need to have ‘all or nothing’ when investing, and this can turn many away.

Allowing companies and buyers to only purchase things that they want and need can be an effective strategy in allowing them to have a BI solution that works for them at an affordable price.

Mobile

Unlike the majority of BI specialists, decision makers in firms may not strictly be office based, or they might at the very least be out and about at some point during their working week.

However, big calls will still need to be made, and often these can’t wait. By permitting use of BI via mobile channels, developers will make it easier for companies to implement the strategy in the modern world, and uptake could be greatly improved.

Collaboration

Companies will often nowadays also want to have the chance to collaborate on ideas, and this is something those without the technical nous might not have the ability to do themselves.

Professionals in IT need to make sure that the data created is not only usable by people who are not savvy, but also sharable and easy to collaborate with in conjunction with other departments within the firm.

Analytics ‘key driver’ for mobile adoption

Posted in Analytics, Business Intelligence, IT, Mobile, Mobile BI, Mobile Business Intelligence by neilwilson1984 on December 10, 2013

Speed and better analytics are proving the key drivers for global mobile adoption. That’s according to an IBM study showing 90 per cent oforganizations around the world are willing to sustain or increase investment in mobile technology over the next year to 18 months.

A key reason for upping spend on this sector is the measurable impact on speed and productivity. Half of the respondents in the poll, for example, reported a ten per cent gain in employee productivity as a result of mobile efforts.

The survey looked at the business advantages of using mobile technologies for business intelligence, including the way it “fundamentally” changes how organizations interact with customers, and develop and deliver innovative products and services to market. In particular it identified so-called mobile strategy leaders who have a clear direction for their efforts in this sector.

Data and analytics was a key difference between this subset and others. Seventy per cent or more of leaders surveyed describe themselves as effective in areas such as addressing structured and unstructured mobile data, handling large volumes of data, analyzing mobile data and taking action based on that data. Under 37 per cent of non-leaders said they are equipped to deal with these issues.

Integration is another area where there is a clear difference. Again around seven in ten of mobile leaders indicate they have been successful in ensuring interoperability with other systems, leveraging APIs for external or cloud-provided data services, and providing service-oriented architecture and sharing information among systems/devices. On the other hand, only around 40 per cent of non-leaders report being successful with these tasks.

“Today, mobile is quickly emerging as a transformational game changer in business that will drive new levels of innovation and interactions,” said Kevin Custis, social business and mobile practices leader at IBM. “It is far too limiting to define mobility simply as a device or a channel for transactions. The organizations that come out ahead will be the ones that prioritize mobile and redefine its use to drive a new set of business expectations and user experiences.”

Mobile BI

Mobile apps are easy to use, easy to share and easy to discard. But does this ease of use conflict with enterprise security goals?

We live in an app world

There is no denying that we live in a world where we can get an app for almost anything, pizza delivery, movie times and even medical advice. These apps are great because we can remain relatively anonymous as we use them and if we get tired of them, we can delete them and if we lose our phones, we can re-download them. They almost never contain our private information and we feel safe using them on public wi-fi systems and on mobile networks. But what would happen if mobile applications started containing personal or privileged information? Would be be so ready to use them?

Anything you can do, I can do too

You can do almost everything on a mobile device, so the natural progression of business intelligence was mobile business intelligence. The wave of 2011 has been getting business applications, including business intelligence on to mobile devices such as iPads. These devices are great because they are pretty powerful and allow users to do cool things without being tied to their computers. So naturally, you might consider getting a mobile BI app, to extend your current in-house BI system.

But I would be cautious about doing that. Unlike desktop computers which have a tendency to be hard-to-steal or lose, mobile phones are lost at an alarming rate, 113 phones are lost every minute in the US alone. Imagine what would happen if one of those mobiles had an application on it with your firms data held in your mobile BI application’s cache? How much would your data be worth?

Browser Based BI

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for Mobile BI. I think it will revolutionize the way individuals, who are not always at their desks, like CEOs, Sales, Hospitality and Healthcare employees work. What I do think is there has to be a way to deal with these security issues. And interesting idea coming out of a software company called DSPanel is the idea of browser based mobile BI. What this means is all BI is accessible through the devices browser, by sending links to the dashboard, scorecard, or report. These items are then consumed and manipulated with the same functionality as a native app. If a mobile device is lost or stolen, the created mobile dashboard is simply deactivated by the creator and the link changed so it can still be accessed by users. This means business data remains secure and users get to enjoy the freedom mobile devices give them.

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.