Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tablets and BI....

.....or BI and tablets.  In this case, BI stands for business intelligence.     So let's put on our thinking caps and get to work.

One of the more recent presentation layers the past few years has been the tablet device.  For better or worse, until recently "tablet" meant iPad in most circumstances.   Nothing to dis Android, but iPad  seems to have a higher corporate acceptance from my experience. 

In my many projects, I haven't yet had too many requests for tablet presentations.   I know business users who are starting to request them although I remain surprised that in 2012 printed reports are still in wide usage!   (I used to talk with a few coworkers in 2000 about how nice it would be to have mobile information).   Thinking that I was missing the boat as I didn't own a tablet device, in March I purchased a iPad "3" to see what this BI tablet thing was all about.

What I found is that tablets pose potential, especially for mobile users.   I stopped in AT&T this week to purchase my Nokia Lumia 920, and all the sales reps used iPads to process orders.   Not really BI, but one could see the logical extension of usage.   There are also some great Apple apps (Roam BI, anyone?) that show promise.    The best business case I can think of is someone who needs information but not tethered to a desk, and someone who doesn't use a smartphone capable of displaying said information.     This is the perfect tablet BI user.

Another observation I have is that business users love Excel.   Well duh, you say?   I've seen users dump perfectly readable information from Cognos reports into a CSV file to import into Excel to manipulate the same data.    I believe a lot has to do with familiarity - but to date it shows a large weakness in the tablet market being able to natively display Excel data.   My thoughts are that the inability of the iPad to render correctly basic or complex Excel spreadsheets has limited the usage of the tablet as a BI consumption device thus far.

But now there is a great device on the market, the Windows 8 tablets which cure this problem.    A review of the Surface is coming soon, and how I expect the Surface to change the nature of the BI presentation layer. 

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