Mobile Data, Not Just Mobile BI

Jake Freivald's picture
 By | August 26, 2011
in Mobile BI, WebFOCUS Data Collection
August 26, 2011

We should think about every mobile device as a data source, not just as a portal into BI applications.

An article at SearchSAP.com highlights an issue that is relevant to every business user of mobile devices, and especially to everyone who is considering mobile business intelligence. It starts by talking about sharing information with people:

There are a wide variety of mobile applications to show what is going on through the supply chain that can be run through mobile business intelligence apps, said Kevin Benedict, an analyst, blogger, consultant and SAP Mentor volunteer in Boise, Idaho.

“Once the products are in production, you have the ability to feed tracking information to clients,” he said. 

But it acknowledges that, instead of considering mobile users as mere consumers of information, there's a superb opportunity to use them as information resources. 

It has also eliminated the need for delivery personnel to get a signature, since GPS and proof of delivery apps can time-stamp an order. When a signature is requested, it can be seen immediately.

Unfortunately, the article doesn't develop this theme. Surely there are many other pieces of information we can capture in order to improve our business processes. Truckers can pinpoint the gas prices they're paying at different stations on the road; product stockers can indicate the quantity of competitors' goods that are on a grocery store shelf; workers at a trade show can indicate the timeliness of check-in at the hotel they're working at. Collecting that data after the fact would add a drain and complexity that may make it untenable, but providing it instantly, in the moment, makes it easy to see what's going on now so you have better decision-making information later.

Better still, the information may be turned around almost instantly to good effect. Gas price information can be aggregated and immediately placed on a map that other truckers use to save money -- they might get gas before crossing the New Jersey state line if they see that it's $.25 / gallon higher in the New York area they're driving into. A lot of good small decisions can matter a lot to a company's margins.

Naturally, we believe this is an important capability to support. Mobile business intelligence should feed mobile data collection, which should feed right back into mobile business intelligence. To that end, we recently announced WebFOCUS Mobile Data Collection, which provides those capabilities. If you're interested, we'd love to hear from you. And if you're skeptical of the value, we'd be interested in hearing that, too -- please add your comments below.