“If I’m at Starbucks doing business intelligence via WiFi with my laptop, is that Mobile BI? If so, if I do the same thing at work, what is that?” That question started the discussion at one of my recent Friday #BIWisdom tweetchats.
When the tweetchat tribe tried to level set what this booming area of
business intelligence really is, we found some differing opinions.
Mobile BI supports the transient workforce, someone tweeted. No, it’s
mobile because it uses mobile devices and the device facets (GPS,
camera), most agreed. Example: a static BI report delivered to an iPad
is Mobile BI. But another member tweeted that the Microsoft Surface Pro 3
blurs the lines, so we can’t define Mobile BI by devices; it’s just any
My opinion? Mobile BI allows taking fact-based insights/information on a mobile device with you to a decision point.
Our annual Wisdom of Crowds Mobile Computing / Mobile Business
Intelligence Market Studies reveal a multi-year trend of growing
interest in Mobile BI as well as growing sophistication on the part of
Almost a year ago at another of my #BIWisdom tweetchats, I asked
participants for examples of where they saw Mobile BI in use. Two folks
observed that they saw Mobile BI only in discrete pockets and use cases.
Having said that, one added that some of the use cases were
The group in my recent #BIWisdom tweetchat reported they see people
interacting with Mobile BI at airports, on the bus, in stores, at a
supply chain distribution center, while waiting on elevators in an
office building in New York City or getting real-time data on the trade
floor. One of the #BIWisdom group said his client can track 30 percent
of sales directly to the use of Mobile BI for sales productivity.
Someone commented that being able to take BI everywhere and have
continuous accessibility makes up for the slower data speeds on a mobile
device. But another wisely tweeted, “Other than the fact that I can do
BI most anywhere, what does Mobile BI bring that traditional BI can’t?”
One of the group said it’s the ability to interact directly with
surroundings. He shared an example: GPS to filter location, then taking a picture of a store shelf for collaboration.
However, someone else questioned whether that means that
collaboration must be a part of mobile BI for it to be successful. The
group pondered whether mobile BI means moving from “just reporting” to
“true insight” that is based on a collaborative event but decided that
there are definite use cases where mobile BI adds value without
Bottom line: In late 2013, the cost of deploying mobile hardware was
prohibitive to many companies. Security was also a concern, according to
our Wisdom of Crowds market study. At that time many of our survey
participants stated they wanted to use Mobile BI only to view (and
select and filter) information, not interact with it.
Today security is still the top obstacle to greater use of Mobile BI.
Regional regulatory issues (especially in government, healthcare and
banking), are also prominent concerns for Mobile BI. Even so, Mobile BI
is moving up in critical priority. It’s also morphing significantly with
new-generation IT infrastructure. Undoubtedly there will be security
breaches – some big. That’s why it’s critical that organizations put
security policy/programs in place.
Our Wisdom of Crowds market studies reveal that mobile is about new
use cases and new UXs; it’s not about porting desktop BI to an external
device. Most existing BI is too data dense to fit on a mobile device, so
a lot of design rethinking is required. But I believe that the maturity
of uses cases and benefits are more important for growing success than
the maturity of Mobile BI technology.
Mobile BI is definitely on the move in user penetration and in vendor
support. Already it’s no longer a market per se; it’s a feature.
what I’m watching for:
" I expect we’ll see an intersection of Mobile BI, Cloud BI, and Collaborative BI.
" All needed business intelligence features will be available on mobile devices.
" Eventually “Mobile BI” will become just “mobile” and “mobile” will
just become apps in the same way that “Big Data” will eventually just
Howard Dresner is president, founder and chief research officer at Dresner Advisory Services, LLC,
an independent advisory firm. He is one of the foremost thought leaders
in Business Intelligence and Performance Management, having coined the
term “Business Intelligence” in 1989. He has published two books on the
subject, The Performance Management Revolution — Business Results
through Insight and Action, and Profiles in Performance — Business
Intelligence Journeys and the Roadmap for Change. He hosts a weekly
tweet chat (#BIWisdom) on Twitter each Friday. Prior to Dresner Advisory
Services, Howard served as chief strategy officer at Hyperion Solutions
and was a research fellow at Gartner, where he led its Business
Intelligence research practice for 13 years.