When developing a mobile business intelligence (BI) strategy, you can’t ignore the role that business processes may play. In many cases, the introduction of BI content into the portfolio of mobile BI assets provides opportunities to not only eliminate the gaps in your business operations, but to improve the existing processes.
Often, the impact is seen in two main ways. First, the current business processes may require you to change your mobile BI approach. Second, the mobile BI solution may highlight gaps that may require a redesign of your business processes to improve your mobile BI assets and your business operations.
Business Processes Will Influence Your Mobile BI Design
Existing business processes will have a direct impact on the design of your mobile BI solution. I’m often amazed to discover that the lack of consideration given to identifying business processes stems not from a lack of insight but from wrong assumptions that are made during the requirements and design phases.
It’s true that the business processes may not be impacted if the scope of your mobile BI engagement is limited to mobilizing an existing BI asset (like a report or dashboard) without making any changes to the original end-product, including all underlying logic. But in many cases, the opposite is true—the mobile BI end product may be the driver for change, including the update of the existing BI asset as a result of a mobile BI design.
Mobile solutions may require different assumptions in many aspects of their design, which range from source data updates to report layout and logic. Advanced capabilities, such as a write-back option, will further complicate things because the integration systems outside the BI platform will require closer scrutiny and a much closer alignment with business processes.
Moreover, constraints that surround source data will have a direct influence on the mobile BI design. For example, if you’re dependent on feeds from external data sources, you may need to consider an additional buffer to take into account possible delays or errors in the data feed. Or, perhaps you have a new application that was just built to collect manually-entered data from field operations. If this new application was introduced as part of your mobile BI solution, the process that governs this data collection system will have a direct impact on your design because of its immediate availability. This wouldn’t have been as important before as an operational tool with a limited audience without mobile BI.
Mobile BI Solution May Drive Improvements in Your Business Operations
As part of designing your strategy or developing your mobile BI solution, you may discover either gaps or areas for improvement. Don’t worry. This is a known side effect, and it’s often considered a welcome gift because it gives you a chance to kill two birds with one stone: improve your business operations and increase the value of your mobile BI solution. However, it’s critical here to ensure that your team stays focused on the end goal of delivering on time and on schedule (unless the gaps turn out to be major showstoppers).
Typical examples are found in the areas of data quality and business rules. The design of a mobile BI asset—especially if it’s new—may highlight new or known data-quality issues. The visibility factor may be different with mobile. Adoption or visibility by executives often may force additional scrutiny. Moreover, adoption rates (ratio of actual users divided by total users of mobile solutions) may be higher because of the availability and convenience with mobile. As a result, mobile users may be less tolerant about the lack of quality assurance (QA) steps.
Business rules offer another example due to the same visibility factor. A proposed change in a business rule or process, which previously failed to get attention due to lack of support, may now have more backers when it’s associated with a mobile BI solution. Strong executive sponsorship may influence the outcome.
Bottom Line: Do Not Ignore Business Processes
It’s easy to make the wrong assumptions when it comes to business processes. It happens not just in mobile BI but in other technology projects. You cannot take existing processes for granted. What may have worked before may not work for mobile BI. Let your business processes complement your overall mobile BI strategy, and let your mobile BI engagement become a conduit for opportunities to improve your operational efficiencies.
Not only will these opportunities improve your business operations, but they will lead to increased adoption by increasing the trust your customers/users have in your mobile BI content.
What do you see as the biggest challenge when it comes to business processes in your mobile BI strategy?
Stay tuned for my next blog in the Mobile BI Strategy series
This story originally appeared on the SAP Analytics Blog.