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The Mobile BI Evolution Is Here

September 8, 2011

The next business evolution is here and it’s Mobile Business Intelligence AKA Mobile BI. Organizations will either leverage mobile intelligence in order to manage change and increase productivity . . . or fall far far behind your competitors.

The biggest evolution (and revolution) in business is the exponential demand for mobile intelligence. Forward thinking companies realize that Mobile Business Intelligence (“MBI”) will very soon be as ubiquitous as the mobile telephone.

Managing Change with Mobile Intelligence

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. ~ Charles Darwin

What does Charles Darwin have to do with business and computer technology? In a word, everything. We all live in the archetypal paradox of life – that the only constant in this universe is change. And how you and your organization “manage change” will be the difference between profits or losses; greatness or mediocrity; expansion or contraction; winning or losing. I contend that “managing change” is exactly what Apple brings to business and government – the ability and capability for an individual and organization to realize positive change. But do not take my word for it – ask the growing legion of companies and municipalities that are incorporating mobile business intelligence solutions among the 50 million iPhone users, 35 million iPod Touch users, and 15 million iPad users.

Imagine this: You and your colleagues are able to analyze 1) all dimensions of your organization’s performance metrics; 2) all economic and market indicators that impact your organization; and 3) all correlative and causal relationships between 1 and 2 . . . in seconds. THIS is what managing change is all about. And thus, the number one “change agent” in business and government today is the coupling of mobile technology and information technology to deliver mobile intelligence. For industry, I call this Mobile Business Intelligence (“MBI”) and for government I call this Mobile Government Intelligence (“MGI”). But with so many news articles and research studies being written recently about mobile intelligence, I synthesized all the techno-jargon and marketing noise out there and developed a universal definition of “what” mobile business intelligence truly means:

Mobile Business Intelligence and Mobile Government Intelligence is the capability of an organization to deliver data to employees, customers, future customers, citizens, employees, and suppliers; data that is meaningful, timely, and contextual to an organization’s specific objectives . . . any time they need it, any place they are, and operating on any device they want. MBI and MGI empowers users to access and analyze data with interactive visualizations they can understand, share, and present . . . all within seconds.

PREPARING FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION’S FUTURE

Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him. ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

As President Eisenhower implied, every organization’s raison d’être is to “opportunize” future trends (i.e. to enhance long term profitability by navigating into a future that delivers a perpetual flow of opportunities, threats, challenges, and risks. And all of this involves managing change and enacting positive and meaningful changes amid ever-changing economies and hyper-cyclical markets. Question: What are the primary ingredients for successfully maneuvering through a changing marketplace? Answer: A perpetual wellspring of clean data powered by technologies that will quickly turn data into information – and subsequently turn information into contextual and actionable intelligence. Metaphorically, your data is the life blood of your company and the way you manage data is the beating heart of your company. As Bill Gates said: “I have a simple but strong belief that the most meaningful way to differentiate your company from your competition, the best way to put distance between you and the crowd, is to do an outstanding job with information. How you gather, manage, and use information will determine whether you will win or lose. Information flow is the life blood of your company because it enables you to get the most out of your people and learn from your customers.” Even our fictional characters teach us the value of data, analytics, research, and intelligence: “The most valuable commodity I know of is information” (Gordon Gekko from the film Wall Street).

But “how” do we turn data into intelligence? At Competitive Analytics, we define three broad dimensions of data that all organizations of every shape, color, and size need to collect, analyze, benchmark, valuate, and forecast in order to acquire contextual intelligence:

Internal Intelligence Metrics – any performance data specific to your organization. Examples: sales volume, revenues, costs, valuations, product pricing, profits, margins, project milestones.

External Intelligence Drivers – any market or economic indicator that “drives” your business objectives. Examples: interest rates, employment growth, retail sales, home prices, consumer confidence, DJIA, yield curve, demographics, psychometric trends.

Contextual Performance Levers – any overlay of internal metrics (I) and external drivers (II). Example: Ratio of Gross Revenue to Employment Growth, Organization G&A to Industry G&A.

Sounds easy. But acquiring these three dimensions of intelligence within a mobile intelligence solution is replete with complexity. Organizations must ensure they are mindful of these 12 vital intelligence tasks: 1) collect and clean data from reputable raw data sources [data is everywhere, yet clean and accurate data is seemingly as rare as a bottle of Pinot Noir vintage ‘78 Romanée Conti]; 2) employ robust analytical tools; 3) use reliable and secure hardware devices to assure your system is running smoothly 24-7-365; 4) simplify and synthesize the way you communicate and distribute top-level findings in clear, concise, and contextual visualizations [executives truly want an “executive summary” within a few touches of their finger and scanning of their pupils]; 5) empower the über-analytical individuals in your organization to “drill down” to the minutiae and run in-depth models and what-if scenarios to discover (and uncover) hidden intelligence; 6) hire and/or collaborate with the appropriate expertise in computer technology, market intelligence, and strategic advisory in order to assure an ongoing flow of precision intelligence; 7) implement fast feedback mechanisms to benchmark performance [the reporting process should take seconds, not days or weeks]; 8) customize your system to allow for personal visualizations, functional reporting, and specialized presentations; 9) assure bullet-proof security and confidentiality; 10) Build-in the capability for future expandability and scalability; 11) Ensure users experience both “easability” and “enjoyability”; 12) effectively manage costs for the entire intelligence system.

Whew! That’s quite a list. But if an organization does not have a secure handle on the aforementioned three dimensions and 12 tasks of mobile intelligence, managing change will be next to impossible. Using a baseball metaphor, without a perpetual flow of robust mobile intelligence, optimizing decisions is akin to hitting a 105 MPH fastball . . . blindfolded and with one hand. Stated pragmatically, without a perpetual flow of intelligence, businesses will not be able to grow profits and achieve sustainable growth. Analogously, governments will find it extremely challenging to significantly enhance the quality of life of their citizens, employees, employers, and visitors. Thus, making better and faster decisions is all about managing change. But as the lists above implies, there appears to be an exorbitant investment of time and expense collecting and cleaning of data, installing hardware and software, hiring the right consultants, etc. – which all seems like a herculean undertaking with labyrinthine hurdles. And the answer is . . . yes . . . within a strictly PC environment. But Apple, seemingly overnight, has come to the rescue for many SMBs (Small and Medium Sized Business) and large companies looking to gain competitive advantages via mobile intelligence sans large upfront capital investments. In other words, decision makers needs lots of insight and want to pay as little for it as possible. Is this possible? Yes. And Apple provides the gateway to immediate and ongoing productivity.

MOBILE INTELLIGENCE VIA APPLE MEANS PRODUCTIVITY

“Information is a source of learning. But unless it is organized, processed, and available to the right people in a format for decision making, it is a burden, not a benefit.” ~ William Pollard

Apple, previously not known for catering or focusing on business or government analytics, has the most productive and transparent tools to quickly, smoothly, and inexpensively implement a mobile intelligence solution that is both elegant and easy to use. iPad and iPhone users now enjoy ~75,000 apps – many of which will reap immediate productivity at the individual and corporate level. People and organizations are truly starting to “get it” as Apple is positioned to deliver amazing productivity to a variety of industries. How specifically? By being able to provide powerful handheld devices that truly deliver efficient and effective mobile intelligence that produce real results. In just one word, investing in MBI or MGI will exponentially increase PRODUCTIVITY. Although the specific justifications for MBI are becoming endless, here is our “Sweet 16 Justifications” to invest in mobile intelligence (in no particular rank order):

01 Make faster and better decisions

02 Increase the quality of products and services

03 Increase creativity, imagination, and new ideas

04 Provoke deeper questioning and process of inquiry

05 Increase the efficiency of supplier purchasing and distribution

06 Save valuable time for multi-tasking executives and employees

07 Save exorbitant time with data collection, analysis, and research

08 Enhance profits via maximizing revenue and/or minimizing costs

09 Identify new opportunities, threats, risks, and challenges much faster

10 Save exorbitant time with report writing and presentation preparation

11 Increase effectiveness and efficiency of team work and collaboration

12 Increase the speed, clarity, conciseness, and context of communication

13 Monitor vital metrics and receive alerts when specific levels are reached

14 Realize a higher quality of customer service, responsiveness, and retention

15 Significantly Enhance the Quality of Life of your employees and customers

16 Match the speed of data access and analyses with quick project deadlines

WARNING! DANGER! ALERT!

Where is all the knowledge we lost with information? ~ T. S. Eliot

But be very careful! As many executives realize all too well, bleeding edge technology often bleeds money and capital. And the red could be substantial. Here is just an abbreviated laundry list of what a firm might spend using a majority of today’s available solutions: Hardware Infrastructure, Software Selection, Installation, Testing, Software Updating, Security, Maintenance, Server or Cloud Maintenance, Internal Data Delivery, External Data Delivery, Reporting, Presenting, Raw Data, Data Cleaning, Analytical Software, Visualization Software, IT Advisory, and Training. Ouch! That does not seem very productive. Moreover, firms are producing massive amounts of data but little contextual intelligence. And in today’s challenging economic environment, large capital outlays require absolute bullet proof justification of ROIs (Return on Income AND Return on Intelligence). And if you do the shopping yourself, you will find that implementing any of the majority of options out there will cost you anywhere from $50,000 to $1.5 million – and that’s just for the hardware and software (no data, analytics, or batteries included). But there are solutions that will allow you to have your cake, eat it, and not have to pay anywhere near these prices.

APPLE TO THE RESCUE

Mobile analytics will move beyond niche markets, like the financial sector, into mainstream use because it helps businesses do two things: Make faster decisions and drive a higher quality of customer service. ~ Samir Sakpal, analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

With the introduction of the A5 chip, the iPad2, and iPhone 4, Apple created a gargantuan value proposition for SMBs. Now an individual, small or medium sized business, small city, or metropolis can take advantage of all the same tools as a Fortune 100 company uses – but without the enormous price tag. After countless hours of research and product testing, we discovered an awesome combination of technology and market intelligence solutions you can use in concert with each other to fully integrate a mobile intelligence solution for as low as $500 per user per month. Assuming an 8 hour work day over the course of a normal year – you would be investing a minuscule $2.87 per hour per user! Now this is truly awesome productivity. Where else will you find the value of visualizing a myriad of custom data and analytics on your mobile device that will help you navigate the future course of your organization for an investment that is three times LESS than the hourly minimum wage of the US ($7.25) and California ($8.00)? The answer: No where. Can you imagine that?

START IMAGINING YOUR OWN BUSINESS EVOLUTION

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. ~ Albert Einstein

In summary, the clear benefits and necessities of MBI and MGI are now abundantly clear. According to IBM, “people and machines together create new data at a rate 8 times the amount of data in all of the libraries in the U.S.” Thus, businesses need to identify trends from data to make intelligent business decisions. So get on board or fall far far behind your competition. All it takes is a bit of imagination. And the iPhone, iPad 2, and App Store are three great places to start. Just imagine a team of economists, market analysts, and mathematicians working around the clock inside your iPhone and iPad for 1/3 the cost of a part time intern.

To learn more about MBI and MGI, visit www.DECIPHERMOBILE.com

David Savlowitz is CEO/Founder of Competitive Analytics, a niche market and economic intelligence think tank specializing in business and government analytics. Competitive Analytics recently released DECIPHER and DECIPHER MOBILE – powerful suite of customizable software that empowers organizations to collect, analyze, rank, overlay, valuate, benchmark, and forecast HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of demand and supply drivers, market indicators, economic trends, demographics, psychographics, pricing and cost data, geo-submarket data, competitive metrics, project performance data, corporate metrics, ratios, formulas, indices, and custom data . . . with stunning visualizations . . . in seconds. If you wish to send a comment or question to David or to learn more about implementing a mobile intelligence solution for your business or municipality, please feel free to contact David Savlowitz at 949 697 9977 or dss@competitiveanalytics.com