Mobile BI Design Framework: Audience

It goes without saying that when we design anything, we must know and understand our audience well. But I often find that in mobile business intelligence (BI) projects, this is where the first oversight happens—not because we lack the knowledge, but because we make the wrong assumptions.

The “mobile BI design framework” promotes the idea that we need to go beyond just knowing our audience by creating every opportunity for greater user interaction right from the onset of our engagements.

Start with the executive sponsor in your mobile audience

The executive sponsor is the most important member of your audience. He or she not only provides the necessary leadership, but also the required support for commitment and critical resources for the project to succeed. In the absence of this guidance, your audience will be disoriented and their participation will be fragmented.

Validate who your audience is for mobile

The users who were identified initially for the engagement may not necessarily be the best candidates for a mobile BI project. In general, it‘s assumed that anyone can be a mobile user at the flip of a switch. Although this is true, the learning curve can be vastly different depending on their background and how mobile savvy they may be.

The question is not whether individuals can become a mobile user, but whether they can quickly become a mobile advocate to drive the project to success—especially if they play a key role on the project team. Therefore, it’s critical to gauge your users’ overall mobile readiness and “willingness.”

In many cases, their “mobile attitude” (which is how they perceive the mobile device, the mobile project, and its value to the business value chain), is more critical than their technical knowhow—or lack thereof.

Understand how your audience uses mobile

In addition to understanding who your audience is, you need to understand what they do today with their mobile devices and what they will be doing tomorrow after you go live. The fact that potential users utilize smartphones in their personal lives doesn’t guarantee a successful adoption of the mobile BI solution.

When you first meet them, observe closely how they use their device. Do they remember the password to unlock their screen or app? Is the mobile device configured properly and is it able to connect to the approved networks? Are the apps up-to-date? Many of these simple signs provide invaluable feedback to assist you in developing the right documentation and communication, as well as creating the right support network.

Get closer to your mobile audience

You need to get closer to current or potential customers (mobile users) by involving them actively in the process from day one. You need to be in the trenches with them, observing closely their mobile interactions so you can validate your assumptions about the use cases and effectively identify gaps where they may exist.

You can’t do this from behind a desk. You need to be right on the shop floor working side-by-side with the real customer in the same environment and under the same conditions. Getting closer to your mobile audience means that you make every effort to look at the mobile journey from their perspective, which starts with the setup and installation of the mobile device.

Have your audience demonstrate its mobile passion

In many instances, it helps a great deal to have your users play an active role beyond requirements gathering and testing. For example, have them present at meetings and lead the mobile discussions with them driving at the helm.

There’s nothing like a newly-recruited mobile user leading an audience of soon-to-be mobile troops. They must touch and play with the first prototype as much as they would during the testing phase. Continuous feedback should be the lifeblood of any development effort.

Bottom line: Your audience is key

Understanding your audience at all levels–not just who they are–is critical to mobile BI design because it sets the right expectation and assumptions for your users and your technical teams, who will develop the solution. When you increase your user interactions at all levels, you set your mobile BI project up for success.

How do you get closer to your audience?


This story also appeared on the SAP Analytics Blog.