Slideshow 12 Questions to Ask When Evaluating a Mobile BI Program

  • July 08 2013, 11:11am EDT
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Ask the wrong or vague questions on the emerging offerings for mobile business intelligence, and it could lead to limited or misguided returns. So what should you be looking for? Forrester Research principal analyst Boris Evelson has outlined the following specific questions your business should ask when assessing mobile BI.


Does the product support animations? For example, if a particular dimension, such as time, has hundreds or thousands of values (as in daily values over multiple years), manually clicking through every day is not practical. By launching an automated, animated scroll up and down, such a dimension is more practical.

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Can the product push content to mobile devices? Does the product access your on-premises enterprise BI apps via a mobile browser? Does the product access your on-premises enterprise BI apps with RIA browser plugins? Does your mobile platform require native mobile clients? Does the product support HTML5?

Authoring vs. Consumption

Does the product support consumption of canned BI reports and dashboards or does the product also support authoring of new reports and queries?

Backend as a Service

What backend-as-a-service (BaaS, sometimes known as mobile backend as a service) platforms do you support?

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Build Once, Deploy Multiple Times

What are the product capabilities to build a single report/dashboard and automatically render and deploy it on multiple platforms? Does it apply to tabular reports only or to visual dashboards also?

Forms and Prompts

Does the product support forms and prompts for report annotation/collaboration, what-if analysis, and integrating with workflow (approvals, for example) and ERP (generate new transactions) applications?


Can the product run the BI environment while offline? What features are available while offline? Is the architecture based on HTML5, which provides offline capabilities? Is a full-client version of the product required to run offline? How much IT involvement is needed to enable offline BI usage?

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What device-specific security features are available (like device lockout, remote erase, encryption and integration with enterprise security platforms)? Are these native device security features or add-ons provided by the BI platform?

Sensor-Based Queries

Can the product automatically generate or modify queries based on barcode scans using phone cameras and changing/updating query content based on phone accelerometer and GPS devices? Does the product offer query generation via voice recognition and voice-to-text functionality?

Visual Queries

What type of visual and dynamic querying, exploring and analysis does the product offer? For example, there may be up to eight ways that a mobile UI allows users to visually manipulate the data: drill across (to another dimension), drill down/up (up/down hierarchies), drill through (to another source, to another dashboard or to a detailed report), filter, group, pivot, rank and sort.

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Voice Recognition

Does the product have natural-language processing or voice recognition capabilities to input BI queries using speech to text? Is it the vendor’s own technology or OEM’d?

Other Considerations

What mobile integrated development environments does the vendor support? Does the mobile BI platform conform to CSS3 specifications? What mobile testing platforms does the vendor use and/or leverage? Does the mobile BI platform integrate with third-party BI platforms? Does the product offer integration with phone dialer, contact manager, calendar, email program and other applications on the device? Finally, what native mobile phone and tablet platforms does the product support?