Pushing Business Intelligence out to the iPad


Imagine being able to skip through any number of reports from different business intelligence applications on your Apple iPad with the flip of a finger.

That's the premise of Blink, a new iPad application from MeLLmo, which created a publishing server called Roambi for pushing business intelligence reports out to iPad and iPhone devices.

According to MeLLmo chairman Santiago Becerra, the Roambi server can push slices of data in a "mini-cube" format that is familiar to most users of any OLAP database. Those slices of data can be easily manipulated via the touch-screen interface of the iPad, and each slice can be updated in seconds simply by sending a request to the Roambi server for reports that were originally created using BI applications from SAP, Oracle, IBM or Microsoft. The Roambi server can publish reports based on data stored in GoogleDocs or Microsoft Excel as well.



Becerra says applications such as Blink on the iPad will transform how BI data is not only consumed in the enterprise, but also significantly expand the base of business executives that want to consume BI information. Most executives today still prefer to consume business intelligence information via a spreadsheet, but Blink on an iPad makes it much easier to visually consume that information and readily identify business trends, said Becerra. In fact, MeLLmo has also made its software available on Windows in response to customer requests for a visually oriented approach to delivering BI data.

Blink also has important implications for how BI applications will be leveraged in business processes because executives will want to take actions based on the information on their iPads. Integration between BI applications running on mobile computing devices will become much tighter with the rest of the enterprise.

Another vendor making a similar BI push for the merits of the Apple iPad in the enterprise is Saama, which has its own middleware platform for building composite BI applications that are then rendered on the iPad. And some BI vendors, such as MicroStrategy, have built iPad and iPhone support for their specific application environments.

But Becerra says the key to getting IT support for BI on the iPad is the ability to distribute reports from multiple BI applications that IT organizations have already invested time and money creating. Becerra says the iPad makes it so much easier to consume that information that the investment more than cost justifies itself by helping the IT organization validate the millions of dollars already spent on BI applications and related IT infrastructure.

On paper, that may be a tough sell in this economy, but once executives are exposed to BI on an iPad, Becerra says the application sells itself.