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Business Intelligence is Going Mobile: Page 2

By Ann All     Feedback
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All: So the addition of those kinds of technologies will help drive mobile business intelligence forward. What else might help advance it?
Dresner: Collaborative capabilities I think will be important. Depending on the industry, transactional integration can be significant. Again, retail is the top vertical. No one in retail sits at a desk. So if I am out on the floor and can scan a SKU and say, "I want to order more of these" or move them from one store to another, that could get quite interesting. So you'd have to tie these applications into ERP systems and CRM systems.

The three big trends moving forward, I think, will be mobile business intelligence, collaborative capabilities and cloud. They all complement each other. If I'm going to collaborate, it makes sense to do that on a device that is always with me. Right now the vendors are pushing it more than the users are adopting it. It's a more efficient approach than email. Collaborative technologies tend to be associated with a particular set of activities or particular project. So you automatically get the context, all of the information and people you need are there in the business intelligence environment, and it makes us more productive.

All: You see no signs of mobile business intelligence slowing down?
Dresner: I asked about exclusive mobile business intelligence use, and you see growth in the numbers of folks who believe a significant percentage of users will only use business intelligence through a mobile device. Yes, 35 percent said it would be under 10 percent. But 5 percent said it would be 61 to 80 percent of users and 10 percent said 41 to 60 percent. So you've got almost 20 percent who think the number of folks using BI exclusively through a mobile device is going to be north of 40 percent.

That says to me there is a movement underway. I think sales and marketing and executives are already there. IT and finance have plans, although they are not nearly as bullish as the execs or sales and marketing.

This is a global phenomenon. It crosses all industries and all sizes of organizations. It's a foregone conclusion we're going mobile. People will use mobile devices the way we use laptops today. People graduating from school now use technology differently than we do.

All: Is IT seen as slow in supporting mobile business intelligence?
Dresner: IT have a different mindset. They have to consider the existing investment, and all of the privacy and security issues associated with the information. That's one of the biggest sticking points for IT, and for finance as well. You've got many, many more devices out there, and sometimes they get misplaced and compromised.

I've heard there is an active market for spammers. They pay a premium for phones left in a taxicab. The drivers deliver it to them without a battery. Then they pull the data, put the battery back in and allow the device's data to get wiped. So IT thinks it hasn't been compromised. Then they take the emails and other information and sell it. So there are some very real issues around security.

All: There's a lot of discussion around native vs. browser-based applications. How do you see that playing out? Will HTML5 improvements render it a moot issue at some point?
Dresner: Right. I think at some point it becomes moot. Increasingly we see vendors offering the downloaded application, which is nothing more than a stub to an HTML5 application. I think what the users want is a dynamic, interactive experience, something very visual in nature. They don't want a Safari experience. Having said that, you can render in HTML 5, using the browser. As long as users can go to an app store or market and download an application, and as long as it behaves like a native application, they don't care if it's HTML5.

There are certain industries where a browser application is mandatory, such as healthcare, financial services and government. Nothing will be resident on the devices in those industries, for obvious reasons.

The vendors are looking to develop it once. But they'll have to do a little extra work for the foreseeable future, because they'll have to work with certain purchase and usage behaviors. The demand currently is for native apps, especially for the iOS and Android platforms. For the time being, vendors who do not accommodate this are going to get left behind.

HTML5 still has to grow up a bit. It clearly has the local storage capabilities and the offline capabilities users want, but I think we need to get more mileage on it before we can declare it the standard. There is a lot of energy and investment being applied to it. I think it'll move more quickly than other standards have in the past.

This article was originally published on November 28, 2011
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