10 Mobile BI Strategy Questions: Technology Infrastructure

Mobile BI Strategy Technical Infrastructure by Kaan TurnaliWhen an organization is considering implementing a mobile BI strategy, it needs to ask/consider if its current information technology (IT) and business intelligence (BI) infrastructure can support mobile BI. It must determine if there are any gaps that need to be addressed prior to going live.

When we think of an end-to-end mobile BI solution, there are several areas that can impact the user experience. I refer to them as choke points. Some of the risks associated with these choke points can be eliminated; others will have to be mitigated.

Depending on the business model and how the IT organization is set up, these choke points may be dependent on the configuration of technology or they may hinge on processes that are embedded into business or IT operations. Evaluating both infrastructures for mobile BI readiness is the first step.

IT infrastructure’s mobile BI readiness

The IT infrastructure typically includes the mobile devices, wireless networks, and any other services or operations that will enable these devices to operate smoothly within a set of connected networks, which span those owned by the business or external networks managed by third party vendors. As mobile BI users move from one point of access to another, they consume data and assets on these connected networks and the mobile BI experience should be predictable within each network’s constraints of flexibility and bandwidth.

Mobile device management (MDM) systems also play a crucial role in the IT infrastructure. Before mobile users have a chance to access any dashboards or look at data on any reports, their mobile devices need to be set up first. Depending on the configuration, enablement may include device and user enrollment, single sign-on (SSO), remote access, and more.

Additionally, failing to properly enroll either the device or the user may result in compliance issues or other risks. It’s critical to know how much of this comes preconfigured with the device and how the user will manage these tasks. When you add to the mix the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) arrangements, the equation gets more complex.

BI infrastructure’s mobile BI readiness

Once the user is enabled on the mobile device and business network, the BI infrastructure will be employed. The BI infrastructure typically includes the BI software, hardware, user profiles, and any other services or operations that will enable consumption of BI assets on mobile devices. The mobile BI software, whether it is an app or web-based solution, will need to be properly managed.

The first area of concern for an app-based solution is the installation of the app from an app store. For example, does the user download the app from iTunes (in the case of an iPad or iPhone) or from an IT-managed corporate app store or gallery? Is it a custom-built app developed in-house or is it part of the current BI software? Does the app come preconfigured with the company-supplied mobile device (similar to how email is set up on a PC) or is the user left alone to complete the installation?

When the app is installed, are we done? No. In many instances, the app would need to be configured to connect to the mobile BI servers. Moreover, this configuration step needs to come after obtaining proper authorizations, which involves entering user’s access credentials (at minimum user id and password unless SSO can be leveraged).

If the required authorization requests, regardless of existing BI user profiles, are not obtained in time, the user configuration can only be completed partially. More often than not, the mobile BI users will need assistance with technical and process-related topics. Hence, streamlining both installation and configurations steps will further improve the onboarding process.

Bottom line

Infrastructure is the backbone of any technology operation, and it’s equally important for mobile BI. Close alignment with enterprise mobility, as I wrote in my last blog post, will help to close the gaps in many of these areas. When we’re developing a mobile BI strategy, we can’t take the existing IT or BI infrastructure for granted.

Where do you see the biggest gap when it comes to technology infrastructure in mobile BI planning?


This story also appeared on the SAP Analytics Blog.