As I’m writing this post, more software vendors are launching their mobile business intelligence (BI) solutions. So I’ve decided to hurry up and start talking about the vendors that are shaping the mobile BI space.
In this installment of BI Hits the Road (see Part 1 and Part 2) I will describe some of the features of two specific mobile BI solutions offered by a couple of vendors: Roambi from MeLLmo and Visual KPI from Transpara. They are both very competent solutions, but they have important differences regarding their platforms and market focus. This comparison might help you define what you’re looking for from a mobile BI solution. For this review exercise, I’ll be considering a small but important set of features to take into account while looking for a mobile BI solution:
Based on this specific set of features and criteria, let’s talk about two niche vendors: Mellmo, with its flagship product Roambi, and Transpara, with Visual KPI. In both cases, mobile BI is the main focus, but it’s achieved from different vantage points. Roambi provides a mobile BI solution via an app for Apple devices, while VisualKPI uses a Web-client architecture to provide mobile BI services to several types of mobile devices and platforms.
Headquartered in San Diego, California, Mellmo has created a BI solution intended to provide BI applications for Apple’s ever increasing market. Led by experienced BI experts, Mellmo had created Roambi, a solution specifically created for Apple’s mobile devices. Mellmo expects to bring high-quality mobile BI solutions to a market eager to have mobile data.
Figure 1. Roambi on the iPhone
Here are some of the features that Mellmo offers with Roambi:
Roambi offers a set of appealing data visualization options for both iPhone and iPad, as well as Blink technology for visual interaction with in-memory data sets. Roambi’s connectivity to other BI tools makes it possible for companies that already have a BI solution in place to quickly deploy a mobile solution. The fact that Roambi is currently optimized for a single platform, however, might limits its entrance to organizations with other various types of mobile initiatives already in place.
Figure 2. Roambi on the iPad
You can see Roambi in action here.
Visual KPI (Transpara)
Transpara Corporation is also based in California (Pleasanton) but has a very different approach to providing BI services. Its mobile BI initiative (Visual KPI) intends to take advantage of many types of mobile devices (and traditional devices as well) for visibility of operational BI tasks and for performance monitoring by enabling the visualization of critical information sourced from different types of systems. In this manner, decision makers and information workers can monitor vital information on the move.
Figure 3. Visual KPI on the Blackberry
Some of the features of Visual KPI are as follows:
Figure 4. Visual KPI on the iPad
You can see Visual KPI at work here.
Different Scenarios, Different Solutions
Both VisualKPI and Roambi are strong solutions to add on top of well-formed and reliable BI suites by being able to provide mobile BI services using different sets of BI solutions as a source.
Roambi has an appealing set of visual apps built for the fast-paced and growing market of iPhone and iPad devices, but it might not be an ideal solution for those organizations that already rely on a different type of mobile device or those that have more than one mobile platform in place.
On the flip side, Visual KPI is a product to take into account when organizations need a platform able to work with multiple types of mobile devices already in place as well as to connect to several types of business software applications. However, some organizations may prefer to rely on apps installed directly on the mobile device rather than thin client–based mobile BI platforms.
Of course, there are many other factors to take into account when you are choosing a business software solution. This post has covered some of the basic criteria for you to consider when you explore the products in the mobile BI space and evaluate them for use within your organization.
You can compare several other mobile and traditional BI solutions and see how they fit your organization’s priorities in TEC’s BI Evaluation Center.
I welcome your thoughts—please leave a comment below, and I’ll respond as soon as I can.
Thanks for the mention of Transpara, Jorge. Great post as usual!
During 2011 there will be a reaization in most enterprises that mobile apps are must have vs. nice to have. There are 30-50 new mobile devices being introduced into the market every month. With such vast consumer adoption, employees expect to be able to use mobile apps at work the way they do as consumers, not just angry bird type apps here, but real productivity tools like Visual KPI. Transpara has an application that is so easy to implement that it’s time to business value far exceeds any platform based, device dependant solution. There may be cases where certain apps thrive use a client on the device, like ERP or HRM, but in most cases if you want to have business impact right away, Visual KPI delivers your most important data right way.
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