RealTime IT News

Business Intelligence For The Mobile Crowd

Cognos is testing a wireless version of its entire suite of business intelligence reports.

If all goes well with beta testing this month, the solution will be available for users of BlackBerry devices from Research in Motion in the first half of 2007.

The solution will allow executives to view and interact with the same Cognos business intelligence reports and in the same manner as they do on their desktops.

This has implications for the increasing number of executives who spend significant amounts of time away from their desks.

Don Campbell, vice president of platform strategy and technology, told internetnews.com that Cognos wants to help its customers get more out their investments in business intelligence.

"We can also touch more users within our customer base," he said.

Cognos 8 Go Mobile will be available as a rich client application that is pushed out to mobile devices by IT departments.

This means it won't have to be installed or configured by end users.

Users will be able to interact with reports in several ways.

They will be able to get drill-down details by hovering over a chart, and will be able to flip columns into rows to make it easier to scroll through tables on a BlackBerry.

Cognos Mobile
For the love of piecharting on a BlackBerry.
Source: Cognos

And users will be able to review reports whether they're online.

When they are online, they will be able to pull down as many reports as they want, and they will be able to forward reports as well.

Most files are compressed down to below 15kb, meaning they won't take long to send and receive.

That small file size should also let users download a large number of reports.

Cognos is certainly not the first business intelligence solutions vendor to offer a mobile applications.

But other mobile business intelligence solutions have significant drawbacks.

For instance, most require IT to build reports all over again for the new environment.

One important advantage of the Cognos solution over previous generations, said Jack Gold, principal analyst with J. Gold Associates, is that customers can use the same versions of reports as are used on their desktops.

It's becoming increasingly important for vendors to make these applications friendlier to both IT departments and end users, alike.

According to Gold, mobility is on the rise.

"The trend we're seeing is that 75 percent of business executives are going to be out of the office at least 25 percent of the time," he told internetnews.com.

"You can't expect users to be fixed in one place anymore," he added.

"If you're stuck with the notion of having an alerting capability that only works on a PC, you're not going to get critical information out to folks, and then the value of that information diminishes."

By rolling out this kind of solution, said Gold, Cognos is ensuring that it will not lose customers to other vendors who will inevitably offer mobile solutions of their own.

"It's more about customer retention than customer acquisition," he said.