In this fast-moving business world, managers and executives need to be able to make informed decisions on-the-fly to seize opportunities and react to deviations as they occur – in fact waiting until you get back the office might be too late. To satisfy that needs, SAP and others are developing a rapidly growing range of sophisticated mobile, yet easy to use, mobile business intelligence (BI) solutions.
So how is uptake going?
Well I got sight of a recent survey conducted by analyst group Ovum where they summarize the responses from 1000 enterprises across the globe in eleven different verticals. They say that:
- To date, the market has seen modest adoption of mobile BI solutions – mainly due to the limited range of solutions currently available and residual confusion about the business benefits.
- However, enterprises are increasingly planning mobile BI projects to improve how they do business – right across the globe and within most verticals. Ovum says this reflects the fact that most consider it to be an essential part of any BI system.
- The main areas that benefit from being mobile-enabled are reporting, KPI monitoring, analysis, and data mining.
- Key to success is intuitive, fast, and interactive self-service access with minimal latency and the ability to share data with colleagues and clients.
Much of the growth is driven by ‘Bring Your Own Device’ BYOD approach to allowing employees to use their own devices for business purposes, (something Ovum suggests needs managing better), and the fact that enterprise IT vendors have been rapidly bringing their solutions up to consumer equivalent standards in terms of interfaces and usability. As these trends continue Ovum forecasts that the use of mobile devices within business will skyrocket with the number of global enterprise wireless connections growing from 371 million in 2010 to almost 520 million in 2015, (40% increase) and that the number big-screen mobile devices, (iPad and the like), will grow from 31 million in 2010 to 77 million in 2015,(148% growth).
Although it seems that demand is currently running ahead of supply in most business functions – (Come on vendors – get those solutions into the market!), the findings show that Finance and Customer Intelligence are the lines of business leading the way – while Utilities with their large number of field-based employees and Manufacturing with its large network of suppliers and customers are the verticals at the vanguard of the mobile roll-out.
As vendors such as SAP leverage the information held in core platforms such as SAP ERP Financials and utilize in-memory technology such as SAP HANA to give instant ad-hoc querying across massive datasets, adoption will no doubt accelerate beyond Ovum’s predictions. And don’t forget that currently mobile solutions today tend to lack write-back functionality, which would allow those working in supply chain to access and update inventory at an item-level directly into an ERP system – or a remote budget contributor to update a forecast based on the customer meeting they have just left. So still early days with a lot to play for.