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LESSON - Mobile Business Intelligence Gets Interactive

By Anthony Deighton, Senior VP of Products, QlikView

Most people have already formed their opinions of mobile business intelligence—and unfortunately, the majority of these opinions are unfavorable. However, there’s good reason for this: Early attempts at transforming useful business applications into mobile versions have failed. Some were quick to gain that first-mover advantage to the small screen by simply shrinking their application to accommodate the reduced real estate of the screen. Other attempts pushed out static reports, which may have been marginally helpful, but typically created a frustrating user experience with no opportunity to interact with the data. These approaches may have given access to some information, but certainly didn’t provide a positive experience.

Two things have happened since BI applications were first introduced to mobile devices. First, the connectivity of 3G wireless networks has improved to the point where mobile devices have become a reliable business tool. Second, the iPhone has set the standard for multi-touch interactivity with mobile devices that consumers—who are also business users—have quickly become accustomed to.

As the worlds of serious business applications and personal mobile devices merge, people want and expect their BI to be within arm’s reach. When thinking about BI for mobile users, consider what people will expect from the application in this environment as well as the capabilities of the mobile platform.

Simply put, what people really need from mobile BI are answers to questions. Shrinking down a top 10 customer report for a salesperson on the go is an answer to one question. But what if the salesperson has more questions? Enter the age of interactive business intelligence.p>

The mobile device in that salesperson’s hand can pinpoint their location via GPS services enabled on the mobile platform. Why not leverage that capability to automatically deliver relevant information on customers in the salesperson’s current vicinity?

Let’s then consider the way we interact with the mobile device. Assume the salesperson has eight records he or she wants to look through. Each record should have its own screen for the best readability, and the user should be able to thumb through the records in “cover flow” mode—like flipping through music selections. With the inevitable need to answer more questions from the delivered data, the user can pinch and swipe the screen to highlight a specific selection and drill down for more information. To move to the next answer, the user can simply shake the device to erase.

This is the new world of mobile BI. By engaging in this new experience, people’s opinions of the mobile enterprise application will change dramatically. Beyond static views, the ability to interact with data makes a significant difference in the usability and adoption of these applications. We’ve found that beyond sales and service road warriors(and executives who need to check in on the business), interactive BI on a mobile device is especially useful in the health care industry, where doctors can drill down to the records of their patients without the need for a laptop.

Simply put, what people really need from mobile BI are answers to questions.

Like any maturing application with a useful experience, the applications will proliferate until people don’t remember how they ever survived without them. That’s miles away for the "fun" applications that have never been taken very seriously in the market. But with the recent introduction of true mobile interactivity for gaining business answers, that time is now.

For a free white paper on this topic, click here and choose the title “QlikView 9 for Business Answers: Making Organizations Smarter and More Productive than Ever.”

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