Mobile devices and mobile Internet are everywhere. Over the past few years, Forrester has tracked continuously increasing levels of adoption and maturity for mobile business applications, but not so for mobile business intelligence (BI) applications. The adoption and maturity of mobile BI fall behind other mobile enterprise applications for multiple reasons, mainly the lack of specific business use cases and tangible ROI, as well as inadequate smartphone screen and keyboard form factors. However, larger form factor devices such as tablets and innovative approaches to online/offline BI technical architecture will boost mobile BI adoption and maturity in the near future. BP professionals must start evaluating and prototyping mobile BI platforms and applications to make sure that all key business processes and relevant information are available to knowledge workers wherever they are.

But mobile BI adoption levels are still low. Why? We see three major reasons.

  • Smartphones still lack the form factor appropriate for BI
  • The business case for mobile BI remains tough to build
  • Mobile device security is still a concern

Now, mobile tablet devices are a different story. Just like Baby Bear's porridge in the "Goldilocks And The Three Bears" fairy tale, tablet PCs are "just right" for mobile BI end users. So what can you do with mobile BI? Plenty!

  • Improve customer and partner engagement
  • Deliver BI in the right place, at the right time
  • Introduce BI for the workers without access to traditional BI applications
  • Improve BI efficiency via query relevance
  • Improve "elevator pitch" effectiveness
  • Give away mobile devices as an incentive to cross-sell and upsell analytic applications
  • Position the cool factor of mobile devices

Not all mobile BI applications are created equal, there's a wide range from simpler ones that are a no brainer to implement to the most comprehensive ones that require platform specific mobile clients

  • Push static BI content to mobile devices via alerts
  • Access mostly static BI applications via a browser
  • Access dynamic BI applications via an RIA-enabled browser
  • Install platform-specific mobile device client applications

When you pick a mobile BI platform ask the vendor if their tools provide

  • Multiple visual query methods
  • Sensor-based queries
  • Leveraging GPS signals for geolocation and geospatial analytics
  • Device-specific integration points
  • One or two styles of visual manipulation: instrumented or gestural
  • Prompts and data-entry forms.
  • Animated displays.
  • Personalization

Read much more + an evaluation of mobile BI capabilities of 28 BI vendors here.