Mobile BI Survey Sheds Light on Use, Ubiquity

A new survey looks at what users want, how pervasive mobile BI is and will be within two years, and stresses how vendors must keep us with fickle users.

According to a new BI Market Survey report from Dresner Advisory Services, BI users believe that mobile business intelligence will be a key area of investment in coming months and years -- and that the technology holds the potential to transform the BI market itself. Feelings run strong; more than one in eight respondents (17 percent) said mobile BI was critically important, 35 percent said it was very important, and 37 percent rated the technology as somewhat important.

RIM Blackberry remains a top priority for mobile BI, followed by the iPhone, Apple’s iPad, Windows Mobile, and Google Android. Although Blackberry is the most ubiquitous, it is also the slowest growing platform.

What do users want to use mobile BI for? When asked about platform priorities and integration, the study offered eight different features/functions to rate. Users’ basic needs came out on top: viewing, alerting, and KPI monitoring were the most important features according to the survey participants. The study advises that this trio of features should form the minimum set of requirements for any mobile BI product.

The top perceived benefit of mobile BI is “pervasive access” (followed by fast access and flexibility) and the top drawback is security (followed by the form factor -- that is, phones versus tablets), respondents say.

How do users want information presented? More than half prefer a browser experience across all the mobile platforms.

More than 70 percent of respondents say no more than 10 percent of users currently “have access to mobile BI capabilities,” but they expect penetration to grow rapidly -- within 12 months, only 30 percent of respondents will see such low usage at their companies; in 24 months, that drops to just one in five organizations (20 percent). However, even two years from now, only 9 percent of organizations will give 60 percent or more of their employees mobile BI access (compared to 3 percent of organizations in that position now). First in line to get mobile technology: executives, followed by middle managers, boards of directors, line management, and individual contributors.

The survey holds warnings for vendors that don’t keep up with the mobile push. Nearly a third (31 percent) of respondents “intend to augment (or abandon) current BI vendors in support of mobile BI, but aren’t sure which they’ll chose,” according to the report. In fact, IT and end users view mobile BI as a priority, though it’s the end users who are more likely to adopt new vendors.

The survey combines the results of an online survey (open to any user with first-hand BI vendor or product experience) about mobile BI perceptions, current experience, and intentions along with a vendor survey about supplier investment plans for mobile BI. Nearly one-third (31.5 percent) of respondents came from small businesses -- those with no more than 100 employees.

About the Author

James E. Powell is the editorial director of the Business Intelligence Journal and BI This Week newsletter.

jpowell@tdwi.org