Mobile BI: Great for Consumption, Subpar for Creation

Mobile BI

We do everything on our mobile devices nowadays, from getting directions to the nearest gas station to paying our bills. It seems only natural that those in the enterprise would use mobile devices to do Business Intelligence as well. Mobile devices offer ease of access and an outlet for users to work outside of the office that traditional software solutions just can’t match. Further, mobile Business Intelligence can help to boost user productivity. With the growth of this mobile revolution, users no longer have to stay stationary in order to product actionable insights from their data.

Business Intelligence software vendors have recognized these benefits, and of the top-28 providers in the space, 24 of them have hopped on the mobile bandwagon to offer these capabilities. Many of the popular Business Intelligence tools now offer a matching mobile application with their desktop software, or at the very least a mobile-friendly version of their tool.

Though mobile Business Intelligence capabilities offer flexibility, they fail to live up to the hype. Mobile platforms are great for consuming content, but they are lackluster in what they allow users to create. While the benefits are noteworthy, mobile BI tools still feel novelty. From a technological standpoint, the ability to be able to monitor the inner-workings and complete functionality of your business with the swipe of a finger is incredible, but the shortcomings are too obvious.

Unlike a traditional desktop or laptop computer, mobile devices are severely limited by their storage capacity. A few years from now, we may not be having this conversation, as advances in technology will largely put this problem to rest, but for now, it’s something to take into account. There’s nothing more frustrating than filling up the storage on your phone or tablet and having to delete things in order to make more room. That is a situation you’ll want to avoid if you’re really trying to get work done while you’re outside of the office.

The next issue is screen size. While larger tablets have eliminated this issue to some degree, the problem persists, because if you’re going to carry around a 9-inch tablet, why not just travel with your laptop? Mobile devices typically have sleek UI’s and are great for taking in data, but since the scale is so much different on an iPhone compared to a computer monitor, there is the possibility that the data will be more jumbled or harder to understand, or you may miss something altogether.

For dashboard and report creation, you’re still going to want to use a desktop or laptop. Think about it, most of us are alright with sending a quick email or updating our Facebook status on our phones, but have you ever been excited about creating a Word document on it? Didn’t think so. Plain and simple, mobile devices are lousy engines for content creation, and Business Intelligence software is no different. There’s also something to be said for the traditional keyboard and mouse combination. We can still do far more on our computers than we can on our iPhones.

And finally, there are security shortcomings when looking at mobile BI. By allowing users to access vital business data from anywhere, companies run the risk of those devices being lost, stolen, compromised, or hacked. This opens up an entire new cast of problems.

Until the technology advances enough to allow for more ease of use for mobile Business Intelligence solutions, it’s looking more and more like a software feature in limbo.

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Timothy King
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