Business intelligence hits the road
Driven by the myriad demands of the Internet Age, business intelligence (BI) deployments have been becoming steadily more pervasive in the business environment in the past few years. Now, thanks to the wireless revolution, BI is going real-time and just in time.
It`s called mobile BI, and it`s transforming the way road warriors work. Instead of driving into the office and printing a paper report before heading out into the field, sales or service personnel can now head directly to their first appointment, picking up the latest customer data just a few seconds prior to their meeting.
Until now, BI`s role has been to transform raw data into real information and present that information to end-users in a meaningful and usable manner, allowing them to take quick, educated decisions.
Mobile BI takes this a step further by using handheld devices like cellphones and PDAs to give users interactive, on-demand access to corporate information when out of the office.
"The Internet brings wireless BI the ability to make decisions and take action irrespective of geographic location, or office hours. With mobile BI, users can access and analyse information, anytime, anywhere," says Gary Lawrence, the country manager of BI solutions provider Business Objects South Africa. "Business decision-makers don`t need to be uninformed anymore simply because they`re out of the office."
The move to mobile BI has been made possible by the higher wireless data speeds provided by new mobile technologies like GPRS (general packet radio services), which gives subscribers "always-connected" access to the Mobile Internet without first having to dial up.
How far can wireless BI go? As networks become more powerful, the devices that access them are developing too. What seems certain is that by the time the more powerful third generation (3G) networks are in place, the devices that access them will be much more feature-rich than today`s phones and PDAs.
"This will open the way for the delivery of additional mobile BI functionality like comprehensive palm-sized BI applications, including powerful online analytics running behind a simplified user interface. The vast majority of BI functionality available with connected devices will become pervasive," predicts Lawrence.
What`s more, the value of voice interaction will soar as users find themselves increasingly conducting analysis far from their keyboards and mice. BI during the morning commute will become commonplace. At last, an intelligent alternative to Jeremy Mansfield ...