Mobile Business Intelligence: Here At Last?

Tech and market conditions have finally aligned to make on-the-go BI a reality, say analysts.

Sue Tabbitt, Contributor

January 15, 2013

3 Min Read

Business intelligence on-the-go is finally here, with the arrival of high-performance mobile devices and the evolution of more robust data transport infrastructure, according to U.K.-based IT analyst firm Ovum and a number of other respected market research companies.

Until recently, mobile BI solutions have suffered from a lack of technological advancement and use cases, despite accelerating demand for ready access to decision-supporting information from across the enterprise. Now, however, conditions have collided to enable senior executives and managers to experience a new "connected business reality," according to Ovum.

These conclusions are expanded on in Ovum's latest review of the mobile BI landscape, Solutions Guide: Mobile Business Intelligence. In it, the firm suggested that mid-sized vendors including MicroStrategy, Information builders and Yellowfin are leading the field with advanced yet very useable mobile solutions.

So-called "mega BI vendor" SAP emerges as a top solution for Apple iOS-enabled devices, meanwhile. While all BI vendors fully support the iOS platform and 90% support Android, there is considerably less support for BlackBerry (50% of vendors) and Windows (supported by only a third of vendors).

[ SAP's fiscal year 2012 came in like a lion, out like a lamb. Read more at SAP Caps Strong 2012 With Modest Q4. ]

"There is no question that the iPad's success in the consumer market has affected vendors' go-to-market strategies," said Fredrik Tunvall, an Ovum analyst. "However, to reach a larger audience, they should consider supporting native/hybrid applications for Android and Windows devices, as both are expected to become increasingly prevalent in the enterprise, especially in emerging markets."

SAP's proposition has been driven by its acquisitions of Afaria, Syclo, and Sybase and a BI roadmap that is heavily influenced by a "mobile-first" mindset. Rivals IBM, Oracle and SAS are also eyeing market share and, according to Ovum, all have the technology and necessary development resources to improve their solutions quickly in 2013.

"We expect BI vendors to enhance their mobile capabilities through in-house development and a continued wave of M&A [merger and acquisition] activity," Tunvall said. "This will also be where we will see some of the most interesting and innovative developments in BI and analytics over the next few years."

Ovum's research also exposes a growing trend towards packaged and purpose-built mobile applications for particular vertical sectors, tailored to the needs line-of-business managers. Vendors will use this model to provide a collection of pre-assembled applications and to offer a mobile development platform where users can easily develop and deploy mobile applications for specific needs or roles, the report concludes.

In November, Nucleus Research forecast that expanded BI adoptions would double worldwide in 2013 as further efforts from vendors make analytics accessible to every user. Forrester Research has made similar claims, predicting that mobile BI will be a particular priority. Its most recent research suggests that 24% of enterprises already use or are piloting mobile BI applications, while 37% are considering mobile BI for near-term implementations.

Issuing its top 10 BI predictions for 2013 in a blog published on a Norwegian website, Boris Evelson, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, wrote, "Mobility is no longer a "nice to have" -- will become the new BI mantra. Currently, mobile BI adoption is behind the curve compared with other enterprise mobile applications. This is mainly due to the perceived lack of specific business use cases and tangible ROI. But mobile BI caught up in 2012, will continue to progress in 2013, and will eventually become the norm. Why? Information workers can no longer wait to make decisions until they get back to the office -- that may be too late."

Our 2012 State Of Servers report takes a look at three major technology trends emerging from our latest survey. Also in the new issue of IT Trends: Performance and endurance gains plus lower cost give multilevel cell flash the edge over expensive single-level cell. (Free registration required.)

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