Jens Kröhnert

Smartphones and their descendants are a milestone in the megatrend “internet of things” and the impact on people’s lives is still growing (“The One Chart You Need To See To Understand Mobile”).

While networks and software also have evolved dramatically and are contributing to this development, people just love their “Smart”-Phone, the gadget they are used to taking with them everytime, everywhere– but which is now enabling users to do tasks you would otherwise need a computer for. See the latest sales news where smartphones are outperforming computer sales including tablets/pads.

To use this mobile communication, networking and data-sharing channel can be promising for organizations too, having transactions as well as decisions happen in a mobile world. Not surprisingly the # 1 topic for CIOs in 2012 is supposed to be “Mobile” – even before “BI” in second place. (Gartner)

After the mobile BI market had already got noticable attention last year and most of the big platform vendors had their tool/app in place back then, the positioning of Microsoft in the market of mobile BI was long awaited. Chris Web summarized it with the question “What is Microsoft’s mobile BI strategy?”

The answer was first found in form of a powerpoint slide roadmap presenting 3 steps:

  1. Web based solutions run across all platforms (first half 2012)
  2. Touch-based data exploration and visualization (second half 2012)
  3. Immersive experience of the Microsoft BI platform on Windows 8 slates

 

A small glimpse of the future’s touch & feel regarding the 2. roadmap-bulletpoint (“Touch-based data exploration and visualization”), named PowerView, could be found at the Microsoft SQL PASS Summit in last October.

poverview

Even though the question regarding mobile BI was addressed and the outlook with PowerView looks interesting, there are still some unanswered questions (“So little?”, “So late?”, “No iPhone-App?”, “Silverlight on iPad?”) and having nothing in place for customers ready for mobile BI right now seems unsatisfying.

But is there really a lack of mobile in the current Microsoft BI Stack?

While reading the press it seemed so: Progress on roadmap-bulletpoint 1 (“Web based solutions run across all platforms") appears to be related only to Excel Services or PowerPoint Services on the iPad and Microsoft directs current requests for mobile BI to partner solutions. By the way, feel free to check out our Microsoft mobile BI Partner Solution BI.mobile on Microsoft PinPoint or with some pictures at ORAYLIS.

But actually while developing BI and mobile BI solutions based on the Microsoft BI stack you’ll find another answer. For example that Reporting Services can be tweaked to generate nice mobile BI experiences or can be a powerful middleware for mobile apps like in the case of  the partner solution ORAYLIS BI.mobile:

BI.mobile

Both approaches can be used in conjunction. They are enabling companies where BI stacks are based on Microsoft, to go mobile right away, without having to implement a parallel stack just for mobile delivery.

Yes – there is a lack of mobile in the current Microsoft BI Stack – but more in means of communication.

The Microsoft BI stack is offering all the components to build mobile (BI) solutions. The resulting architecture can be wrapped in a framework for easier and faster adaption. ORAYLIS BI.mobile is built that way too.

So Microsoft’s mobile BI strategy bullet point 1 (“Web based solutions run across all platforms") is probably not communicated well. By using the in place Microsoft BI components like Reporting Services and Analysis Services, Microsoft’s general BI strategy “BI for the masses” can already be  deduced to “mobile BI for the masses”.

With that in mind, Microsoft’s decision not to develop a “one-fits-all” iPhone/Android app like other big platform vendors have released, is not that bad. Mobile frontends have to adapt to business as quickly as other frontends do and the shift from “by” to “make” is already happening in the mobile enterprise world. Being able to use the tools and technologies that are already known to a company for a new mobile channel is thrilling, fast implementation and adaption rates as well as the flexibility to meet companies individual demands is a big advantage.

The time for Mobile is now and this is definitely also true for the growing number of Microsoft customers following the strategy “BI for the masses”.