Back in November when I interviewed business intelligence industry analyst Howard Dresner, founder and president of Dresner Advisory Services, a point he made more than once was how fast-moving the market was for mobile business intelligence. He called the environment "a little like the wild, wild West" and predicted "a tremendous amount of innovation."
Because of the rapid pace of change, Dresner told me he planned to refresh his just-published research in a quarter. He said:
The vendors that did not show up as having any significant capabilities will in six or nine or 12 months. It's sort of like when the Web emerged. You had some vendors working on the next generation while others were cutting their teeth on the first generation. Arguably if they are a capable organization, they can learn from where innovators hurt themselves. A given vendor's first generation might be better than others' second generation. I do think it'll be a very different picture even six months from now.
Dresner was right. His latest research seems to show organizations are beginning to think of mobile BI as a must-have, not a nice-to-have. As with so many enterprise IT trends, this one is following a path established in consumer tech, with people increasingly expecting their relevant information to follow them wherever they go.
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The huge amount of attention given to Apple's iPad 2, complete with a hearty endorsement from Salesforce.com, is a sign of where things are headed in business, writes IT Business Edge contributor Rob Enderle. SAP CIO Oliver Bussmann told InformationWeek's Bob Evans that an application from SAP's Business Objects used for on-the-fly KPI monitoring and data analysis was the most in-demand mobile app across the company.
According to InformationWeek, SAP used in-memory technology to move its entire CRM database into its Hana appliance. Using an iPad outfitted with Business Objects software as a front end, SAP sales personnel can "analyze 650,000 opportunities in real time," Bussmann said. Yes, the article reads a little like a product endorsement, but it also hinted at what is becoming possible in the mobile BI space. What vendors do internally with their own products is often a valuable reference point for their customers.
One of the strongest takeaways from Dresner's research is how mobile may finally be making the democratization of BI more of a reality. Writing on SmartDataCollective, Yellowfin's Lachlan James shares some interesting numbers from Dresner's study: Eleven percent of respondent organizations now provide access to mobile BI to more than 40 percent of their work force, a number that will grow to 18 percent within 12 months, and around 33 percent within 24 months.
Not only that, but a surprising 70 percent of respondents said 25 percent of their current BI users would be exclusively mobile users within 24 months and 23 percent of respondents said half of their BI users would be exclusively mobile in the same time frame. Just 3 percent of respondents thought they wouldn't have any folks using mobile BI exclusively.
While I speculated in August that mobile BI would be confined largely to niche applications, at least in the near term, Dresner said he expects to see "a rising tide across all segments, all classes of users, and all verticals." Mobile will become "fundamentally the new platform for business intelligence."