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Mobile BI Review: MicroStrategy Puts Business Intelligence on Your iPhone

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Posted August 9, 2010 By Vangie Beal     Feedback

MicroStrategy Mobile offers native support for the Apple iPhone and iPad. It also packs a lot of business intelligence data in a small screen.

Growing demand for mobile access to business intelligence (BI) has not been lost on vendors. For the most part, the recent flurry of mobile support announcements by vendors — specifically Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) support — has been just that: Output support that lets decision-makers access business intelligence reports natively on Apple devices.

MicroStrategy (NASDAQ: MSTR) is one vendor that has moved into mobile business intelligence with the recent release of its MicroStrategy Mobile platform. The company already supported Blackberry devices, and the new mobile offering adds optimization for Apple's mobile platform. It makes it easy for customers to design and deploy custom BI reports and dashboards on the iPhone or iPad without needing to know a thing about developing an Apple application.

MicroStrategy's software (MicroStrategy 9 Release 2) is a single technology that provides users with all five styles of business intelligence, including reporting, dashboards, OLAP analysis, ad-hoc analysis and the alerting style of BI, where you set thresholds for the software to continuously monitor and deliver reports on an email alert basis. It relies predominately on Web distribution for reports and dashboards, but is available for use through Windows, Microsoft Office, email and Blackberry devices.

MicroStrategy's new mobile release works like any module available for the MicroStrategy BI platform, and it expands business intelligence reporting to iPhone and iPad users.

 

The MicroStrategy Mobile Business Intelligence App

Anyone with an iPhone or iPad can download the MicroStrategy Mobile application from Apple's iTunes Store. The app is free and offers a number of sample reports and business dashboards so you can test-drive functionality.

The tutorial in the mobile app has seven classic business intelligence reports — including a wireless bill and a fixed product analysis report with grid. Moving through the reports is pretty intuitive and offers the same look and feel as the BI reports a MicroStrategy customer would use on other platforms, like MicroStrategy Web or MicroStrategy Office.

Users can quickly navigate using basic Apple gestures — like swiping and touching — through screens of data that are tied together. MicroStrategy developed two new gestures for moving through large amounts of data on your Apple device. The first is for moving quickly through columns of data by swiping really far to the left or right, and the second new gesture is for drilling.

Of note is the level of interactivity you have with a typical BI report on a mobile Apple device. Customers simply access their reports and custom dashboards through the MicroStrategy Mobile Application, but the interactivity and ability to manipulate the data makes it feel as if you were running your own "micro-application" inside of MicroStrategy's application.

In this way, you can think of the free MicroStrategy Mobile Application as an "app player" that runs the reports and dashboards that its customers design. Each report and dashboard is like an individual micro-application of information. The MicroStrategy Mobile app is pulling your BI reports and dashboards for display, but it actually works like an app player for these custom-built dashboards.

The Casino Management demo in the MicroStrategy Mobile app demonstrates this well, and shows what customers can do with mobile BI on an Apple device. This demo is a micro-application that serves as a complete casino management environment. While it may feel like you are working with little micro-apps inside the MicroStrategy Mobile app, what you are really seeing are customized BI dashboards designed using the point-and-click capability of the MicroStrategy platform.

 

Developing Your Own Business Intelligence Apps

Creating something that is as detailed as the Casino Management demo is no different than building a dashboard in MicroStrategy using basic BI techniques. Customers need to do no more than drag and drop objects, set parameters to format and link objects together for flow between screens, and then save the dashboard to make it immediately available to all mobile users on your network via the MicroStrategy Mobile application.

The obvious benefit is that no special Apple platform development is required. Every grid and graph that you build for display over a Web browser is immediately accessible in the MicroStrategy application.

The MicroStrategy Mobile app does more than provide nicely formatted BI reports on your mobile device; it enables you to interact with dashboards in a fluid and intuitive way on your Apple device. You can flip through metrics, drill down to the lowest transaction level of data and access everything you need to manage and analyze your business data remotely on your iPhone or iPad.

This app demonstrates just how easy it can be for decision-makers to access BI data on-the-go, and to also design your custom business dashboards and to deploy them immediately for all network users on mobile devices.

MicroStrategy Mobile capability works like any modules for the MicroStrategy Business Intelligence platform, like MicroStrategy Web or MicroStrategy Office. You can license the Mobile module on named user or per CPU basis. Additional licensing information can be read here, along with links to more examples of MicroStrategy Mobile business intelligence apps.

Vangie Beal is a veteran online seller and frequent contributor to ECommerce-Guide.com. She is also managing editor of Webopedia.com. You can tweet with her online @AuroraGG.

 

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