Aberdeen’s research into mobile business intelligence at the end of last year gave a clear indication of the top three features that business users want to see introduced into their mobile BI solutions (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Top 3 enhancements requested for mobile BI
Taken together, these three features can usher in a powerful solution for workers on the road, such as sales reps. Any account manager will tell you that the last thing you want is for a customer to notify you about a problem that you really should’ve known about already. So, when your customer is short-shipped for example, an automated alert sent to your phone or tablet is going to give you the chance to get out in front of that problem. The other two legs of the stool – data exploration and collaboration – would let a sales rep out on the road use that short-shipment alert to their best advantage.
Here’s an example of how these three capabilities would work well together. Christmas shopping is well underway and your retail customer was short-shipped on Star Wars LEGO sets. An automated alert triggered as the shipment is made would let you know that there is a problem that you need to deal with. All you need to do now is find the best solution. Many traditional mobile BI solutions provide only static views of data, or limited ability to drill-down and explore information from different perspectives. That can hinder the ability of managers to respond to unraveling situations quickly. On the other hand, if the BI tool on your mobile device allows a user to freely explore the data available then solutions to problems can be found faster.
In this example then, the sales manager out of the office can explore data to see if more Star Wars LEGO might be available in another warehouse; or see when more sets were due in; or see what LEGO alternatives might be available; or see if another distributor might be able to help and what the additional cost of working with that other distributor would be. Collaboration – a nice word for “Help me make my problem someone else’s problem” - comes into play at this point.
After exploring all the relevant data, suppose the sales rep decides they want to source products from a different distributor at a higher cost. Collaborative mobile BI would allow the rep to annotate a chart or report showing the proposed solution, send it to their boss so that they can approve this solution to keep the customer happy. Ultimately, I think that’s how these elements will combine to cut the total time required for organizations to respond.
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