Key evaluation criteria for Mobile BI and Cloud BI

One of the biggest applications of computing is to gather business intelligence, or to spot, unearth, and analyze business data. It manifests itself as metrics, dashboards and reports. In tune with the developments in computing, the BI apps have witnessed much churning of late and traditional desktop based BI apps are giving way to mobile BI and cloud BI.

Mobile Business Intelligence (Mobile BI) refers to the science of gaining business intelligence using applications optimized for mobile devices. Cloud business intelligence (Cloud BI) similarly refers to using applications hosted on the cloud for business intelligence tasks. Such cloud BI apps require no additional software or hardware resources, with users able to access the same through the Internet, using login credentials. However not all mobile BI and cloud BI are created equal.

Mobile BI

Significant differences exist in Mobil BI apps from cloud-based and conventional BI apps, in terms of architecture and functionality.

  • Architecture

The effectiveness of mobile BI apps depends on its ability to push content to mobile devices easily. This is easier said than done, considering the fragmented mobile space, with apps running on Android, Windows, Symbian and other OS not compatible with each other. Resilient mobile BI apps access the on-premises enterprise BI using mobile browsers or plug ins, and support HTML5. Moreover, the role of BI apps is not confined to viewing reports in various permutations and combinations. Powerful BI apps offer the capability to author new reports and queries.

  • Animations and Images

The popularity of images and pictures have soared in recent times, as people realize the ability of such content types to convey the message much more succinctly and effectively, when compared to words. This makes the role of visual forms, such as animations important. Yet, many mobile BI apps lack proper support for animations. A good BI app requires an automated scroll up and down to represent information easily.

Cloud BI

Cloud BIs are more or less similar to conventional BIs in their architecture and the ability to support images. However, here, additional issues crop up, and such issues can be a game-changer to the efficiency and the utility of cloud BI apps.

  • Cloud services are usually scalable, but the utility of the app depends on the additional licensing fees and terms, for multiple users across multiple locations.
  • Not all BIs app leverage the benefits of the cloud equally. The apps vary in terms of level of flexibility of computing and storage resources, pricing elasticity, and more.
  • Cloud BIs behave differently when disconnected or offline. Some automatically cache most recent reports when offline, while others do not.
  • Many cloud BIs offer on-premises version of the software, which may be the same or a different product. The effectiveness of different products depends on the availability of a clear migration path from cloud to on-premises.
  • Just as the resilience of mobile BIs depend on its ability to work in different environments, the resilience of cloud BIs depend on the product supporting popular public cloud platforms, such as Amazon, Google, Salesforce, and Windows Azure.
Author : Nayab Naseer Date : 27 May 2013