Top 10 Mobile Business Intelligence Apps
Thanks to a plethora of mobile apps, like the 10 featured here, business people can perform a variety of business intelligence tasks on their smartphones and tablets.
Just as business is no longer confined by the walls of a company’s physical facilities, so has business intelligence (BI) largely untethered itself from the centralized workstation.
“Mobile BI is no longer just a nice-to-have but is quickly becoming the principal way business users demand to consume analytics,” says Brad Peters, CEO of Birst. “What makes mobile BI so compelling is that it can be woven much more closely into where work is actually getting done, away from the office.”
To meet this demand, business intelligence vendors are adding user interfaces for an iPad or smartphone. Some of these are generic apps that can be used for any type of analytics; others are geared to a specific field such as sales.
“The group of users that benefits the most from mobile BI is not the majority of current BI consumers, namely analysts and report writers,” says Peters. “It’s actually business users in the executive suite, sales, field support that benefit the most.”
Here are 10 mobile business intelligence apps showing the range of what is now available to meet different niches and needs.
QlikView on Mobile– QlikTech’s QlikView is a business intelligence platform that supports the creation and consumption of dynamic applications for analyzing information. QlikView on Mobile supports iOS and Android and provides fully interactive applications though HTML5 in either a browser or the QlikView for iOS native app.
QlikView is an in-memory dynamic calculation engine that requires significant compute power, so it is not possible to run the engine itself on the iPad, and a server connection is required for real-time analysis. With the QlikView for iOS app, however, QlikTech added the ability to bookmark and download views that can be accessed when offline. Users can now make selections when online and then save hierarchies of views to the device for when there is no connection available.
“In the case of pharmaceutical sales, in particular, this is highly useful for reps working in hospitals without reliable connections,” says Chris Mabardy, senior director Product Marketing QlikTech. “Reps can explore provider and prescription information when connected, find insights to take with them to see practitioners, and save portfolios of views to access and utilize during those conversations.”
Birst Mobile – Birst, Inc. is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) business intelligence solution with features including an integrated ETL (extract, transform, load), data warehouse automation, enterprise reporting, ad hoc querying, and dashboarding. It can be delivered through an on-premises virtual appliance or via the cloud. Mobile users can access all of the dashboards with an iPad; there is no need to create separate dashboards for different devices.
“Birst for the iPad allows business users to easily access visual analytics and interact with their data while on the go,” says Peters. “In addition, it is very secure since it’s part of Birst’s Cloud BI offering. Cloud BI is inherently architected for secure mobile access, whereas with traditional on-premise BI solutions organizations need to poke holes into their firewall.”
Birst for the iPad takes advantage of the iPad’s touch-screen interface, allowing users to swipe down to scroll through rows in a table and use the two-fingers-spread to zoom in. To drill down and across for more detail, users just need to touch a chart element or table cell of interest. Birst recently also added support for embedded prompts that allow users to easily filter results and automatically pass the filters on when drilling from one dashboard to another.
Infor Motion Dashboards extends Infor’s ION platform to tablets and smartphones. Users can access existing dashboards or create new ones through a browser interface, using Infor Motion Dashboards.
“Using an app is not about just consuming information; it’s about having the freedom to complete a task as you would from a computer,” says Jan Gahde, product manager Business Intelligence, Infor. “Users now have the ability to design their own dashboards to create an experience that is most beneficial to them for their specific job function. Users can mix up all the information that they need in the dashboard screens, and the new graphical feature creates a compelling visual display that makes understanding data much easier.”
IBM Cognos Mobile – IBM's mobilr business intelligence app extends interactive Cognos Business Intelligence to a broad range of mobile devices, including the Apple iPhone and iPad, Android phones and BlackBerry phones and Playbook. Users can view and fully interact with Cognos reports, dashboards, metrics, analysis and other information.
YellowFin – With YellowFin, users can query many different databases and combine multiple data sources (databases and CSV files) to create a single report or dashboard without having to build a data warehouse. The Java mobile application presents users the same view as on their desktop, but in a browser. The application can work online or offline.
MicroStrategy Mobile App Platform lets customers build mobile apps that deliver business intelligence, transactions and multimedia content based on information from existing data warehousing, business intelligence, ERP, CRM and other information systems.
RoamBI - Roambi takes data from a variety of sources - including SAP BusinessObjects, IBM Cognos, OBIEE, Microsoft Reporting and Analysis Services, as well as Excel, Google Docs, Salesforce, and more – and presents the data on an iPad or iPhone. A free application, Roambi Lite, is limited to analyzing spreadsheet data. Roambi Pro is a hosted service for SMBs and workgroups that creates visualization from Excel, Google Spreadsheets and Salesforce CRM. Roambi Analytics ES4 is the enterprise version that works with a full set of data sources. It does not have its own backend, but only presents the data generated by other BI software.
SAP BusinessObjects Explorer brings SAP’s BusinessObjects analytics to iPhones and iPads.
ServiceSource Renew Analytics – ServiceSource’s mobile-enabled Renew Analytics application tracks key performance drivers related to recurring revenue business. It provides role-based access to real-time data sources and presents a dashboard containing analyses of historical metrics and forecasts. Users can drill down to take a deeper look at the underlying data.
SalesClic is a sales management tool that integrates with Salesforce, Google Apps and Highrise. It leverages the historical data stored in a Salesforce or other database to help fine-tune the sales process, identify at-risk opportunities and improve sales forecasts.
Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).