Tablets 'Secret Weapon' for Getting Executives to Back BI

Ann All
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More Wisdom of BI Crowds

Insights from the latest Dresner Advisory Services business intelligence report.

I just wrote a post about the importance of getting senior executives on board with business intelligence initiatives. Good advice, you may think, but how do you get the execs interested enough in BI that they'll be willing to champion it?


The usual good advice applies: Ensure there are clear business goals for the technology. Use business terms, not technology terms, when discussing an initiative. Deliver quick wins and incremental value. Ask executives for their feedback - and listen. Focus on outcomes rather than activities. As with all good advice, though, it doesn't always work as well as we'd like.


Yet IT professionals may have a secret weapon for helping convince executives of BI's value. And it's one that may already be in the execs' hands. Like the BlackBerry before it, executives seem to be the earliest adopters of tablets like the iPad. I cited a Forbes article that quoted Sanju Bansal, CIO of BI provider MicroStrategy, which has deployed 1,000 iPads to its executives and sales staff:

... Once the head goes the body follows. The top executives get them and then they order them for the next 10 or 20 people.

And I mentioned my own interview with Arhaus Furniture, which developed a plan to roll out iPads to 52 delivery drivers, largely based on the positive experiences of its SVP of logistics and distribution and other executives.


At enterprise software giant SAP, which has deployed 2,500 iPads, the company started with productivity applications like email, calendars, VPN access, desktops over Citrix and people directory but then added a mobile app from the company's Business Objects business intelligence software for on-the-fly KPI monitoring and data analysis. The BI app has become the most popular among different user groups at SAP, CIO Oliver Bussmann told InformationWeek.


Howard Dresner, the founder and president of Dresner Advisory Services who just published an update of his Wisdom of the Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study, told me he wouldn't be surprised to see a similar trajectory for mobile BI at other companies. Tablets and mobile apps are giving executives added exposure to BI, he said in our recent interview:

It's about changing their mind set. After you do email, business intelligence can be a great second app for tablets.

Vendors certainly seem aware of this pattern. In the latest release of its BI software, Oracle not only added support for the iPad and iPhone, it also included a series of dashboard templates that are designed to allow IT organizations to set up workflows that can be initiated via a mobile computing device accessing Oracle BI software, which is, in turn, integrated with a suite of enterprise applications. Mike Vizard included a snazzy screenshot of the app in a recent IT Business Edge post.


Vizard also quoted an Oracle executive who said the software giant expects mobile BI software to boost the usage of other mobile enterprise applications. IT managers should already be considering not only how to best provide access to mobile apps but also the amount of IT infrastructure that will be necessary to support them.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jun 14, 2011 8:47 AM Robert Hylton Robert Hylton  says:

We are seeing exactly the same thing.  In fact, we just ran into a company in China that has ordered 20,000 iPads for their users, and most of them will be running a form of mobile BI or operational BI on them.  It is really heating up.


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