Part 11: Devices

The „last mile“ of business intelligence describes the access of users to business intelligence (BI) content. The general goal should be to improve the accessibility of BI content, so that the satisfaction rises. In the last years Mobile Business Intelligence (Mobile BI) got a so called “hot topic” and “trend” for BI. It describes the access to BI content from anywhere in the world. It does not make any difference if the user is in his bureau, at his customer or in a train. This trend influences the layer of “end devices” which is above the layer “presentation” and should be observed as well.

Architecture with devices

Architecture with devices

BI content for tablets, ultrabooks, smartphones, notebooks and desktop pcs

The range of possible devices extends from only two devices (notebook and desktop pc) to five (additionally smartphones, tablets, ultrabooks). But not every device is made for every purpose. While smartphones and tablets are designed to be used with a mobile data connection everywhere in the world, an ultrabook or notebook needs an additional data connection via tethering, wLAN, LAN or something else.

In addition, desktop pcs, notebooks and ultrabooks are used to create dashboards and reports while smartphone and tablet users tend to consume the created applications on their devices. In the last years and months, software vendors made this border partly obsolete. There is software on market where you can create dashboards via tablet or smartphone.

Even more, not every user in the BI environment has the same requirements on BI software. Analysts or data scientist will need a desktop pc with CPU power or RAM to analyze the data on a big screen. Sales representations are more interested in consuming the data at the customer`s office, sometimes together with him. The needs and advantages differ from user to user and have to be evaluated before you start with the implementation process. The dependency between software and requirements is strong and should be noticed. If you choose the wrong the software your BI project will fail. And the devices of your BI users can influence the result as well.

Only Tablets and Smartphones are useful for Mobile BI

In my opinion, smartphones and tablets have to be used for Mobile BI. Notebooks can be used for it but the comfort and service is not the best and users will not be satisfied overall. That shows my project experience, too. In general, report and dashboard authoring will be done on a desktop pc and notebook. Report and dashboard consummation will be done via every device. The limits of authoring will be lighter via mobile software but it needs time (years).

Visualization of data gets more complex through new screens

With the iPhone and iPad, Apple launched two innovative products in the years 2007 and 2010. Other vendors followed and at moment, Samsung is the biggest vendor of smartphones worldwide. On a first look, the devices look quite the same. But when you have a closer look to the details you see all the differences: the screen size, resolution, proportion, the mobile operating system and the version of it. The screenshot below gives an impression about some screens of mobile devices.

Different Screens for Business Intelligence Devices

Different Screens for Business Intelligence Devices

And the concept “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) makes it even harder to monitor all devices, screens, operating systems and so on. Most important is still the usage satisfaction in the BI environment.


About Tobias Riedner
Tobias Riedner foundet in 2015. He works and worked as innovator, consultant, analyst and educator in the fields of business intelligence and data warehousing. He learned a lot from the best consultants, managers und educators in the past and shares his knowledge worldwide. He works for a steady growing traditional company which is a leader in industry 4.0.