Emerging Tech: Business Intelligence Apps Go Mobile

What could your company do with a BI app on iPhones and iPads? Some analysts say this mobile software category will take off in 2011 - but early adopters are already gaining benefits.

CIO Joe Beery of Life Technologies has found an answer to the age-old question, "What has IT done for me lately?" Earlier this year, he gave top executives and a pilot group of sales folks and finance staff one of the hottest emerging technologies to arrive on the enterprise scene: mobile business intelligence.

Now, employees eagerly tap and scroll through business data looking at daily sales pipelines, recent activity among key customers, and real-time revenue trends on their iPhones and iPads. "It definitely helps your credibility," says Beery at Life Technologies, a publicly traded biotech company based in southern California. "You want to know what we've done? Well, here it is."

Beery chose a mobile BI solution called Roambi, a native iOS app with hooks into the company's Oracle database and Cognos business intelligence system. Roambi serves up the latest product, customer or financial data via a simple yet elegant virtual card index. The app is as addictive as Facebook—one executive at Life Technologies checks Roambi at least 10 times a day—and thus employees are constantly reminded of the important role technology plays in their daily jobs.

"Before Roambi, our sales people were spending way too much time connecting with their laptops and keeping themselves up to date on what was happening with sales," says Manoj Prasad, vice president of global applications testing and corporate functions at Life Technologies. With mobile BI, "we believe we're shaving off anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes a day for a salesperson. They can focus more time on selling the product. We believe there's a huge revenue impact."

The Mobile BI Boom

With some 150 employees in a handful of business units currently using Roambi, Life Technologies stands at the front of a mobile BI boom. Early results of an ongoing Aberdeen Group survey show a very high level of interest in mobile BI. Roughly a third of respondents have a mobile BI initiative in place, while most others are looking to implement one in the next 12 months.

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