This new Mobile BI (Ooo, shiny!) seems somehow to lack, well, newness.

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In this post, Professional Services Manager Richard Parsons argues that there are more important things on which to focus than "new Mobile BI".

I am getting drenched in wide-eyed enthusiasm for Mobile Business Intelligence (BI). It is getting tiresome.  It is obscuring more important things, and making it harder for people to actually drive on making a difference.

It is very true that with BI we deliver business performance improvement.  There is a mindset that must go with.  With mindset and toolset, and there is huge value to be unlocked.

It is not true that Mobile BI is new.  Calling Mobile BI a Game-changer shows a deep lack of understanding of the purpose, scoring and history of the Game.

Part of the critical mindset of BI (mobile or not) is about recognising how we have come from whence we came, to be where we are, and why we're doing things this way now.  So it is first about where we are.  Then it's about settling where we want to be, and about moving from one to the other.

Even this isn't new.  It's key in every area of management.  In this, Business Intelligence is just an evidence-driven execution of time-honoured concepts of performance improvement.

Mobile BI is an existing part of BI, already as old as web-rendered BI reports, and web-enabled mobile devices (neither of which suddenly arrived with the iPhone4 or ERP's recent enthusiasm for adding the word Mobile to their marketing word-clouds).

  • So it's on smaller screens, and there are design and useability challenges – not unlike the ones we have been addressing in web iframes and other panes using parts of desktop and laptop screen real estate for ten years.
  • So mobile users have short little attention spans, which dictates that we must distil what we present to make best use of what attention is available (as if somehow line managers have loads of attention span to burn when not on a mobile device) - we have been writing tiered sets of exception reporting and drill-down to deliver high value out of limited available attention since forever. We used to do this on paper!
  • So performance is important and the standard is rising - and when, in all of time, was that not true?
  • So you can comfortably put your smartphone in your pocket or tablet in your satchel and effectively consume and interact with web content anywhere and anytime.  That's actually pretty new and pretty cool right there.  But that's not about Mobile BI, that's about the effectiveness of smartphone interface and performance, and the availability of web access, all of which have been, are and will continue improving.

"Mobile BI" is another iteration of the enduring process of understanding the workflows we currently execute, the workflows we could execute, the ones that make the most sense for the business, and delivering positive change.  It doesn't need new BI tools, and it doesn't need a new mindset - both have been available for quite some time.

Find yourself someone who understands Business Intelligence and Business Performance Improvement, and you have Mobile BI covered, onto the devices your people are probably already using and the ones they could come to use, and through a process you can manage and drive yourself.  You also have project focus and project success covered.  You have value delivery covered.

Now THAT is fabulous – just as it was last week, last year, and last decade.

Or am I missing the point here?

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