Self Service Mobile BI – next generation data access

Posted on 10 Aug 2013 in   Mobile BI

Forrester analyst Boris Evelson wrote on the company’s blog that firms will need to make the best possible decisions on what to adopt that will work for their business. The key message is that firms that fail to prepare employees for enterprise BI change early enough or well enough will be left behind.

According to McKinsey & Company’s Telecom, Media & High TechExtranet report, “Nearly 90% of employees use smartphones and tablets to do at least 25%
of the work they formerly did on their PCs.”

Data needs will keep on evolving and most of the fastest changes will be on mobile devices. The challenge that most IT organizations deal with is ad-hoc reporting –  for example a typical request would be  - “Can you get me the sales report for that category for the last 4 weeks ?”. With a request like that IT will have to fscramble to see if they first have a report which is already out there which the business user hasn’t used yet. If not, then they will have to get a Business Analyst to see which other business units might need a similar report. The process turns out to be a requirements gathering exercise and then a small project by itself which needs to be funded by the Business.  And then there is the wait.

The ideal approach would be along the lines of  letting the business get to the data they need as quickly as they need. This would require a self-service way of getting Mobile BI working. Business teams are starting to hire their own data scientists and statisticians, and are buying their own tools without getting IT involved.

To gauge what kind of self-service BI functions IT should be building, the process of interviewing various stakeholders on how they use analytics today, and how they plan to in the future is important.  Usually there are three types of BI Users :  Frontline, Analysts and Data Scientists.  The Analysts and Data Scientists have different data exploratory needs which self-service Mobile BI needs to meet.

So the usual question is what does IT do when there is a self-service mobile BI architecture in place. This is an often asked question.  IT is still responsible for creating the dimensions business cares about ( e.g. Customers, Customer Segments, Time etc).  They still have to source the cross-enterprise metrics and KPIs. Pre-built aggregates are still important and anticipation of those when  a new business line gets introduced. They still have to maintain the Data warehouse and the operational stores.  In summary, IT is still a key facilitator in self service BI but the friction to data has reduced considerable.