Mobile Business Intelligence: The Next Big Thing

Paul Ferrill

Updated · Oct 29, 2010

Nearly 90 percent of companies think mobile business intelligence is important, according to a new mobile BI study by analyst Howard Dresner.

But what surprised Dresner about his findings wasn’t the 52 percent of companies who think mobile BI is very or critically important or the 37 percent who find it somewhat important, but the 11 percent who remain uninterested. “You’ve got to wonder about them,” he quipped.

Dresner said tablets and mobiles devices — particularly Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone and iPad — are making mobile BI not only possible, but essential. Tablets in particular “are a huge deal for BI,” he said. “The form factor concern goes away.”

As a result, he sees laptops eventually going away, replaced by devices like his Dell Streak. “I think we’re about to see a burst of innovation,” Dresner told eCRM Guide.

He’s predicting “dramatic growth over the next two years” for mobile BI, with small businesses leading the way. He also sees mobile BI catching on with large companies, as the benefits of timeliness overcome concern about security. He cited the retailer Guess as an example, which switched from Research in Motion’s (NASDAQ: RIMM) BlackBerry platform to the iPhone and iPad even though the company was comfortable with RIM’s security.

Business intelligence is one of the most compelling mobile apps, he said. “It gives us the latest information where you are,” he said. “It’s no longer an excuse not to know.”

Among mobile devices, the iPhone and iPad are the most popular for mobile BI, while Google Android holds some promise, and it’s too soon to see if Microsoft Windows Phone 7 will be able to crack the mobile BI market, said Dresner.

The iPhone, iPad and Android is “where the energy is” in the mobile BI market, he said.

Dresner’s crowd-sourced study also looked at business intelligence vendors to see if they’re ready for mobile BI. This time, he found that 89 percent view mobile BI as very or critically important — and again, he wondered about the 11 percent who found it only “somewhat important.”

“Some vendors have completely missed the boat,” he said.

Most companies plan to stick with their current business intelligence vendor for mobile BI, but a third plan to switch for mobile BI, evidence that some vendors aren’t yet prepared for the fast-growing market.

Native SDK integration is more important than a browser-based service, said Dresner, although HTML5 could help that.

He ranked vendors by their entire BI offerings, not just mobile. QlikTech (NASDAQ: QLIK), MicroStrategy (NASDAQ: MSTR) and Actuate (NASDAQ: ACTU) came out on top in the survey, which Actuate is licensing as part of its launch of native BI apps for the BlackBerry, iPad and iPhone. Actuate plans an Android version in a few months, but is watching Microsoft before deciding whether to offer a native BI app for Windows Phone.

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Paul Ferrill
Paul Ferrill

Paul Ferrill has been writing for over 15 years about computers and network technology. He holds a BS in Electrical Engineering as well as a MS in Electrical Engineering. He is a regular contributor to the computer trade press. He has a specialization in complex data analysis and storage. He has written hundreds of articles and two books for various outlets over the years. His articles have appeared in Enterprise Apps Today and InfoWorld, Network World, PC Magazine, Forbes, and many other publications.

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