10 Mobile BI Strategy Questions: Talent Management

Mobile BI Strategy Talent Management by Kaan TurnaliWhen I bring up talent management as part of a mobile business intelligence strategy, I’m often met with that “deer caught in the headlights” look. I realize that talent management is typically used in the context of human resources, but I also see it playing an important part in the development of a mobile BI strategy.

As with any technology project, in mobile BI we need to effectively manage three basic resources: technology (hardware, software, network), processes (business or technical), and people. Of the three, I believe talent is the most important one that we need to get right the first time.

Do you have the right talent?

First question you need to ask is: Do we have the right team in place? When we talk about talent, we need to look beyond just the technical skills. A technical background, especially in BI, does of course help, but we can’t stop there. More than anything, mobile BI requires a mobile mindset. This means that the mobile BI team must clearly understand and appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of the technology. There are best practices that can be applied. However, in many cases, the mobile BI teams may be forced to solve unique business problems that cannot be addressed using standard solutions. Hence, a technical skill alone won’t be sufficient.

Additionally, soft skills in customer service and “rapid-fire” problem resolution become critical in increasing adoption because mobile users tend to be more impatient and, in some cases, less forgiving than traditional PC users.

This brings up the topic of design. Many of the issues in post-implementation can be avoided if the right investment is made in the design of the mobile BI solution. It requires a smart design of not just the mobile BI asset but also its delivery and support infrastructure. That can’t be accomplished without the right talent in place.

Should you bring in outside help?

The second question you need to entertain is whether to bring in outside help, train your own staff, or hire. Each of these decisions raises its own set of questions. If you decide to bring in outside help (consultants), you still aren’t off the hook. You still need to designate leaders from your team who will oversee both the initial implementation and the successful transition to internal teams. This requires commitment and close collaboration with the consultant teams from day one. You don’t make these decisions on the last day of the engagement.

If you decide to train, you need to ask: Does the learning curve support our timeline? Does the person have the right background? The more your employee is familiar with the existing business intelligence framework, the less steep the learning curve will be.

Can this person afford the time if he/she is not dedicated 100% to mobile BI? A mistake I often see occurs when the right person is identified for the role, but then can’t afford the time or is unable to leave his/her current role. This forces the employee to make compromises and results in waste and sometimes, subpar results.

Bottom line: Talent management is important

Just as an executive sponsor is critical to the success of the strategy, mobile BI team members play a pivotal role in the execution of that strategy. They have to be passionate about mobility and committed to the success of mobile BI, regardless of the challenges they face or the resources available to them.

Technical know-how alone will guarantee neither successful outcome nor adoption of the mobile BI solution. It is the mobile BI team’s talent, ingenuity, and dedication that will make a difference. We want to not only pick the right talent for the right role but also support them so mobile BI can deliver true business value: growth and profitability.

How do you see the role of talent management in mobile BI?


This story also appeared on the SAP Analytics Blog.