Mobile best practices for BI: Project management dos and don'ts

Emma Preslar, Editorial Assistant

As mobile business intelligence applications become more common, it's all the more important that companies make the right choices in managing mobile BI projects. Hewing to mobile best practices in developing and deploying apps is a must for BI teams, Forrester Research Inc. analysts Boris Evelson and Michael Facemire said in a podcast interview with SearchBusinessAnalytics. Step one: "Start with a real use case," Evelson advised. "Technology for the sake of technology never works."

Assessing the business case for mobile BI can help point the way forward on app development, Evelson added. For example, mobile users who are doing ad hoc data analysis involving slicing and dicing of information have much different needs than executives or sales reps who simply want to look up answers to basic business questions.

According to Evelson, one of the biggest challenges in managing a mobile BI program stems from the fact that most large organizations have multiple BI systems in place. That raises the question of which platforms to enable for mobile data delivery -- or whether to consider adding a mobile-only BI tool that can sit on top of the existing systems. Resolving that issue is a must in mapping out a successful mobile BI strategy.

Evelson said some mobile BI applications -- for example, ones involving drill-down analysis -- are a better fit for tablet computers than smartphones. But he recommended adopting a "design once, publish multiple times" approach that enables mobile dashboards and other BI apps to run on various devices. One thing BI teams don't want to do is create, maintain and update separate applications "for every device, every platform and every mobile browser version," he said.

And for supporting multiple mobile platforms, HTML-based applications are much more cost-effective than native apps are, Facemire said. The bottom line, he noted, is that mobile BI tools are becoming a must-have item for many business users. "We've talked about technology creating a 24/7 world, but with mobile that statement is really true," he said. "Mobile [BI] enables you to have data at your fingertips at all times and have it presented to you in a way that you can make the decisions that you need to make."

In the podcast, moderated by SearchBusinessAnalytics Executive Editor Craig Stedman, Evelson and Facemire further discussed the dos and don'ts of mobile BI initiatives. Listeners will:

  • Hear more mobile best practices advice for designing and deploying effective apps.
  • Get tips on what BI managers should take into account when evaluating the mobile capabilities of BI vendors.
  • Learn about the different levels of BI functionality that can be supported on tablets and smartphones.
  • Get a head's-up on some of the common mistakes that organizations make on mobile BI projects.

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