The way people seek information has changed greatly, even just within the past few years. With billions of smartphones and tablets in the world, we are now able to spend less than a minute locating a restaurant, balancing a checking account, getting directions, or finding the best deal on a product. In fact, we have grown to expect this experience, demanding immediate answers to our questions and fast, easy, intuitive access to all information at all times. We also expect that this whole experience will be interactive and that we’ll be able to easily drill down and find more details about any topic we are researching.
At the same time, the prevalence of social networks is further transforming today’s information consumer. People are more connected than they have ever been before; there are more than one billion people engaged in social networking, and they can find and share opinions on any topic — be it products, services, politics, or economics. These social connections are also creating a more empowered user; an unflattering tweet about a brand could go viral, for instance, forcing a multi-billion dollar company to respond.
This unprecedented access to information and connectivity is also affecting the business world. The expectations of digital natives, who have grown used to easy information access, are increasing. In addition, the amount of data is growing at a rate of 88 times per year — the amount of data in the world today, 1.8 zetabytes, can fill 20 billion iPads. Whether companies harness the power of this wave of data or drown in it depends entirely on the analytics strategy they have in place — and whether they’ve armed the right decision makers with the tools they need to take advantage of it.
Mobile Analytics: A Golden Opportunity
Gartner predicts that by 2020, 75% of people will need access to analytics as part of their everyday jobs.1 Right now, only about 10% of people in organizations use analytics in their jobs, so this really represents a transformation in how people will work moving forward. A key part of arming your users with analytics will involve making these analytics available through mobile devices. Much of the workforce is on the move today; it’s not enough to just give users access to analytics solutions from their desktops, not if you want them to be able to react instantly to problems or opportunities.
When you roll out mobile analytics, you make information accessible anytime, anywhere. In addition, the user-friendly format and experience available in a mobile app will make it easy for any user to get answers instantly — and to get that information in a visual, interactive way that can help enable them to make better decisions.
The Elements of Successful Mobile Analytics
When considering which mobile analytics app is the best fit for your business, you’ll need to first contemplate the needs of the users who will be using this app to access information. For example, executives might be looking for instant access to revenue, product profitability, risk exposure, and forecast information, and will need to be able to slice and dice this kind of business performance information (see Figure 1). These higher-level users might also need access to a variety of data and require the flexibility to adjust their visualizations and experience depending on what questions they are asking.
However, many operational workers live in a more predictable world and will be looking at the same type of information every day. Their content can be delivered via a report or dashboard that does not need to change as frequently as a C-level executive’s might. The key is to cater to the user and make sure they can access the information that is most important to them. For example, with mobile analytics solutions from SAP, such as SAP BusinessObjects Mobile and SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, you can deliver relevant information and a personalized experience to every individual.
There are also some requirements that are consistent across all user bases and are essential to a successful mobile analytics rollout. No matter what, your solutions must be secure, seamless, personalized, updated in real time, and social-enabled.
You absolutely need to ensure that data is secure, that the mobile app is in the right hands, and that the device is protected. This means you need to consider security at the database and platform levels, as well as at the app level, and make certain that you have in place a mobile device management solution that not only keeps corporate data secure, but makes it is easy to configure and push apps to the right devices.
Mobile analytics solutions from SAP use existing security methodologies, extending the security mechanisms of the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence (BI) platform to the mobile environment. This preserves data quality and ensures full audit control. In addition, among other security features, all login credentials are encrypted before transmission and administrators are able to block passwords from being stored on the mobile devices.
Employees rarely work from just one location. They may use their work desktop, their personal laptop, their tablet, or their smartphone. It’s important that they be able to work seamlessly across all of these devices. The mobile analytics solution that you choose should be accessible and usable within any device.
In addition, the process of taking existing content and making it available through mobile channels should be seamless as well. Users will need to be able to access all information from their mobile devices, so you must make certain that all content available on a desktop solution, including reports, dashboards, or other visualizations, can easily be moved to the mobile device.
SAP BusinessObjects Mobile, for example, allows your remote workforce to view the same BI content they work with on the desktop, rendered and optimized specifically for handheld devices. This seamless user experience is a powerful force for enticing those who already use analytics tools to adopt the mobile analytics solutions. And, even better, new business users will be encouraged by the interactive, easy-to-use interface to access, navigate, and analyze reports, even if they’ve never done so before.
Of course, the benefits of mobile solutions can only be realized if users adopt and embrace them. One way of helping to bolster user acceptance of enterprise mobile solutions is to allow them to personalize the experience so they have the flexibility to organize their analytics content and visualizations however they’d like. In addition, users who can personalize their experience on mobile devices tend to be more productive with them since they have set up the solutions in a way that best fits with the way they work, their industry, and their specific role.
With a solution like SAP BusinessObjects Mobile, workers can use SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence or SAP Crystal Reports to configure everything they need to see on their devices. For example, they can customize their reporting to meet the specific needs of their business roles.
Updated in Real Time
Enabling real-time updates is a major trend these days, and for good reason. Allowing your employees to work from the latest information empowers them to quickly make better informed decisions. However, this information will only be useful if it is presented in a way that is intuitive and useful to the end user, which is why the personalized dashboards we mentioned earlier are a key part of a mobile solution.
Additionally, your mobile analytics solution needs to be able to provide real-time alerts so users can easily see if there are risks or opportunities to which they should respond. Mobile analytics solutions, especially when coupled with the power of the SAP HANA platform, can provide up-to-the-second information and alerts, and can help decision makers predict future outcomes.
For instance, SAP BusinessObjects Mobile can send alerts based on KPI thresholds, newly published reports, or changes to existing reports.
When I talk about the need for social enablement, I’m talking about two aspects. First, people should be able to collaborate with their key stakeholders once they get answers to their questions or see outliers in their business. Collaboration capabilities inside a mobile app are critical; users should be able to connect with their colleagues to share or discuss the analytical information they are accessing. Second, people should be able to weave social information into their analytics to take advantage of the opinions and discussions happening in social networks.
SAP’s mobile analytics solutions make it easy to share information with integrated email and collaboration capabilities that allow users to send analytics reports or information collected from social networks to colleagues to get their buy in.
Enabling an Intelligent Enterprise
As companies endeavor to derive meaning out of the chaos of big data and make it into something useful to drive their decisions, the role of analytics tools in all aspects of the business has become increasingly important. And a key part of getting these analytics abilities into the right hands is to make them available via the smartphones and tablets that are already so prevalent in the industry. Companies already have so much information available to a small percentage of their organizations — now it’s time to bring that data out from the hands of a few and distribute it to the entire organization, to empower all employees and consumers.
To learn more about the importance of mobile analytics and the SAP solutions that enable them, visit www.sap.com/analyticsonthego.
Mimi Spier (firstname.lastname@example.org) has spent the last 18 years strategizing, building, launching, and implementing software applications for world-class enterprises like Oracle, Business Objects, Hyperion, and SAP. As Senior Director of Solution Marketing at SAP, Mimi is responsible for the mobile analytics and cross-portfolio strategy and go-to-market activities.
1 Gartner, “Market Trends: Analytics, Business Intelligence and Performance Management to be All-Pervasive by 2020” by Don Sommer and Rita L. Sallam (June 29, 2012). [back]