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1/26/2009
02:49 PM
Rajan Chandras
Rajan Chandras
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Mobile BI Emerges on the Apple iPhone

There's a "perfect storm" brewing that just might elevate the iPhone as the tool of choice for corporate types, not just for e-mail but for BI on the go. Apple equipment is still a rarity on the corporate landscape... But it looks like things might be about to change, with a groundswell led by the acclaimed iPhone.

I was disappointed to find Apple missing from the IE Editors' Choice list. There's a "perfect storm" brewing that just might elevate the iPhone as the tool of choice for corporate types, not just for e-mail but for BI on the go.

Apple has, of course, long been the consumer's delight and the corporation's despair. Apple leads digital convergence in our personal lives - the iPod, iPhone and Mac work together like no other set of these technologies and are beautiful to boot (pun unintended) - but is still a rarity on the corporate landscape. This is partly because for years, Apple has maneuvered itself out of corporate reach (price uncompetitiveness being no small a factor) and partly because Microsoft Windows and Windows applications are so firmly entrenched on the corporate desktop.

But it looks like things might be about to change, with a groundswell led by the acclaimed iPhone."At least 15 to 20 percent of people who buy the iPhone are going to use it for business reasons," says one research analyst. He believes people "have gone out and bought these things and have taken it to a company and said 'make it work,' or have made it work somehow." This isn't just talk: Companies like Genentech, Nike and Walt Disney are reportedly planning to support it.

Looming over this groundswell are business and BI solution providers striving to reach down and increasingly empower users on the go, with features such as location awareness, single authoring capabilities (so that developers don't have to develop multiple versions for multiple deployment devices) and incremental reporting capabilities (e.g. Cognos 8 v4 now supports prompted reports for a more interactive experience). Applications like Oracle Business Indicators and SalesForce.com CRM Mobile for iPhone are opening the corporate doors ever wider for iPhone. (While on the topic, check out this list of 10 Great iPhone Apps For Your Business.)

Solution or content componentization, leading to collaborations and mashups (e.g. using Google Maps for location-aware BI solutions), compounded by the unparalleled usability of the iPhone, will only help increase iPhone penetration in the corporation. On the desktop, features such as native Windows execution on the Mac and desktop virtualization are equally well poised to accelerate Apple's corporate convergence.

It would be interesting to see if this groundswell for the iPhone (and Mac) leads us to a new trend: employees purchase their own devices, subsidized (to a varying extent) and supported by the employer.

One way or the other, Apple is likely to a force in the hunt for business-on-the-go solutions, and business intelligence stands to be a major beneficiary. And it would be nice if IntelligentEnterprise.com finds a category to place visionary and potentially influential entrants like Apple in the Editors' Choice listing.There's a "perfect storm" brewing that just might elevate the iPhone as the tool of choice for corporate types, not just for e-mail but for BI on the go. Apple equipment is still a rarity on the corporate landscape... But it looks like things might be about to change, with a groundswell led by the acclaimed iPhone.

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