More and more mobile devices are becoming connected with the software that runs on them. But the true value of mobility can’t be realized until these devices take advantage of the necessary integration among the underlying systems.
The same principles hold true for mobile business intelligence (BI). Therefore, when you’re developing a mobile BI strategy, you need to capitalize on opportunities for system integration that can enhance your end product. Typically, system integration in mobile BI can be categorized into three options.
Option One: Standard Mobile Features Expand Capabilities
Depending on the type of solution (built in-house or purchased), features are considered standard because they use existing and known capabilities on mobile devices such as e-mailing, sharing a link, or capturing a device screenshot. They provide methods of sharing mobile BI content, including collaboration without a lot of investment by development teams.
A typical example is the ability to share the report output with other users via e-mail by a simple tap of a button located on the report. This simple yet extremely powerful option allows immediate execution of actionable insight. Additional capabilities, such as annotating or sharing a specific section(s) of a report, add precision and focus to the message that’s being delivered or content shared. In custom-designed mobile BI solutions, the sharing via e-mail option can be further programmed to attach a copy of the report to an e-mail template, thereby eliminating the need for the user to compose the e-mail message from scratch.
Taking advantage of dialing phone numbers or posting content to internal or external collaboration sites is another example. An account executive (AE) could run a mobile BI report that lists the top 10 customers, including their phone numbers. Then, when the AE taps on the phone number, the mobile device will automatically call the number.
Option Two: Basic Integration with Other Systems Improves Productivity
A basic integration example is the ability to launch another mobile application from a mobile BI report. Unlike in Option One, this step requires the mobile BI report to pass the required input parameters to the target application. Looking at the same example of a top 10 customers report, the AE may need to review additional detail before making the phone call to the customer. The mobile BI report can be designed so that the customer account name is listed as a hotlink. When the AE taps the customer name, the CRM application is launched automatically and the account number is passed on, as well as the AE’s user credentials.
This type of integration can be considered basic because it provides automation for steps that the user could have otherwise performed manually: run the mobile BI report, copy or write down the customer account number, open the CRM app., log in to the system, and search for the account number. All of these are manual steps that can be considered “productivity leaks.” However, this type of integration differs from that described in Options One because there will be a handshake between the two systems that talk to each other. When using standard features, the report is attached to the e-mail message without any additional logic to check for anything else—hence, no handshake required.
Option Three: Advanced Integration with Other Systems Offers Maximum Value
Of the three options, this is the most complicated one because it requires a “true” integration of the systems involved. This category includes those cases where the handshake among the systems involved (it could be more than two) may require execution of additional logic or tasks that the end user may not be able to perform manually (unlike those mentioned in Option Two).
Taking it a step further, the integration may require write-back capabilities and/or what-if scenarios that may be linked to specific business processes. For example, a sales manager may run a sales forecast report and have the capability of manually overwriting one of the forecast measures. This action would then trigger multiple updates to reflect the change, not only on the mobile BI report but also on the source system. To make things more interesting, the update may need to be real time, a requirement that will further complicate the design and implementation of the mobile BI solution.
Bottom Line: System Integration Improves the Overall Value
No matter what opportunities for system integration exist, you must find a way to capitalize on them without, of course, jeopardizing your deliverables. You need to weigh the benefits and costs for these opportunities against your scope, timeline, and budget. If mobile BI is going to provide a framework for faster, better-informed decision making that will drive growth and profitability, system integration can become another tool in your arsenal.
Think about it. Besides – how can we achieve productivity gains if we’re asking our users to do the heavy lifting for tasks that could be automated through system integration?
Where do you see the biggest opportunity for system integration 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.