Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Advancing Mobile Business Intelligence

I read on Twitter recently that talking about “mobile BI” will soon sound silly. We don’t talk about “mobile email” or “mobile calendaring”, so why should our access to critical data through reports and analytic views be any different? It shouldn’t.

The traditional BI vendors have recently put much energy into delivering mobile access techniques in their enterprise software offerings, creating an array of applications for the most popular devices. Their logic is to provide for a majority of the expected end-user features (reports, analytic views, etc.) on a mobile device but optimized for the reduced screen real estate. That sounds sufficient, right? Wrong.

Today, Jaspersoft makes available mobile BI access for the new IT world, along with a new version of our BI platform, v4.2. This new platform version delivers an array of improvements, including one of the most usable advanced filtering feature sets for ad hoc reporting and analysis that I’ve ever seen as well as support for a variety of new platforms (from app servers to databases and more). But, this release is all about mobile access – and herein lies the distinction between Jaspersoft’s approach to mobile BI and that of its traditional competitors.

Jaspersoft v4.2 delivers the BI industry’s first mobile SDK for creating native iOS (iPhone or iPad) applications. This SDK includes a sample iPhone app to enable a BI Builder to create a customized mobile application from an advanced starting point. Version 4.2 also includes elegant, fully-featured iPad enhancements that deliver a rich, browser-based experience for users of the world’s most popular tablet computer. Why did we provide mobile client capabilities in both native and browser-based formats?

Go Native

If we’ve learned anything after 8 years as a commercial open source company, it’s that our community and customers are incredibly clever and creative (BI Builders, every one of them). We know that trying to accurately predict everything that a modern BI user will want to do with a mobile computing device is not possible. By providing an iOS SDK and sample application to vastly simplify the job of creating native, custom mobile applications, we arm our customers with the tools and techniques to truly deliver a properly featured mobile app that solves their users’ needs. We expect this native approach to appeal especially to those who embed BI into other applications. Our native mobile client approach allows those embedded developers to extend and customize the feature set to suit the unique needs of their end users. Isn’t that what this new, mobile, cloud computing IT world is all about?

Simple & Consistent is Better

Because the iPad provides a lot more screen real estate than an iPhone, this device is well-served by some special browser enhancements that work exactly the way an iPad user expects. Which means multi-touch, gesture-based interaction with the full feature set of JasperReports Server entirely through a web browser. Report and dashboard creation as well as viewing and editing. Full access to the report repository (when granted by the Administrator) and multidimensional analysis for on-the-fly data exploration. All this functionality is made available simply by adhering to pure, web-based design principles. This simple, consistent method of accessing the Jaspersoft server enables the BI Builder to shine as the real hero, better satisfying the needs of the business users that require iPad tablet access to their critical data.

Mobile BI shouldn’t be different and separate. It should be normal, simple, consistent and delivered in a way that delights the user. Importantly, for mobile BI to be broadly used, it must conform to the application area of which it is part – which will likely require some integration and customization. Though the traditional BI providers have quickly delivered mobile client software, we all remember that the first email offerings weren’t the best. So Jaspersoft is pleased to extend the thinking and the model to help take mobile business intelligence to the next level.

Brian Gentile

Chief Executive Officer


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