Mobile BI Design Framework: Performance With User Focus

When we discuss performance in mobile business intelligence (BI), we often talk about two components: response time and availability. I discussed the response time in detail in a previous blog. Today, I want to expand on availability.

Availability is sometimes referred to as “up time,” but it goes beyond that. We need to manage performance with a user focus to make sure our priorities support business execution, not hinder it.

Managing performance of any technical solution is a tricky business and mobile BI is no different. We primarily deal with two elements: What we can manage and what may be out of our control. To use a tennis analogy, we should always focus our energy on the former to make sure we can eliminate unforced errors.

Let’s take a look at several ways we can manage performance with a user focus.

Align your IT schedule with the business calendar

We’re here to drive growth and profitability by supporting business users—we’re not here to get in the way. Be very sensitive about their priorities and critical dates. For example, the last thing sales teams need at month- or quarter-end is to deal with down time, even if it’s planned in advance.

  • Don’t just think about production systems, but also consider development or power user platforms if they play a critical role in the execution of your information delivery infrastructure.
  • Avoid at all cost any risk of down time during mission-critical dates such as quarter-end or during key customer demos, even if the system work has been thoroughly tested.

Minimize downtime for maximum total access time

Minimize the downtime for maintenance, upgrades, and so on. Unlike PC users who may be chained to their desks, mobile BI users typically work around the clock, especially in roles such as sales or customer service. If you add to the mix global roll outs supported by resources located in a single-location, you practically have challenges 24/7 throughout the year.

  • When you have to pick dates and times for system work, don’t just select random dates and times.
  • Instead, study your user stats and solicit feedback directly from the business to find the optimal times that has the least impact to the business.

Data is as critical as the system itself

Don’t forget the data. It’s as vital as the system it runs on. And yes, it’s relevant—even data that doesn’t fit into the general definition of performance.

  • If your systems are up and running but the data is outdated, the value may be limited, especially for mobile assets that depend on frequent or regular data updates.
  • The same thing goes for data quality. You can’t separate or ignore data quality when you measure or manage performance

A mobile BI platform that is fast and running is useless if the data is outdated, not available, or can’t be trusted.

Business users are busy. Respect their time

The majority of business users depend on technology, such as mobile BI, to do their jobs. Remember:

  • In many cases, mobile users typically access mobile BI assets on the go and with less time to spare.
  • What may appear like a “cool” functionality or concept to tech savvy users may be irrelevant or of no value to your business users, who are usually lay people.
  • Utilize the empathy principle in design thinking—truly experience what the mobile journey looks like from the users’ perspective. We can’t succeed unless we do.

Bottom line

If mobile BI is going to promote faster, better-informed decision making, we have to manage performance with a user focus. And it all starts with leadership.

What else can help when managing performance with a user focus?


This story also appeared on the SAP Analytics Blog.