In this issue of BI Hits the Road, I’d like to take a look at the mobile offerings of two business intelligence (BI) software providers: MicroStrategy (see vendor profile) and QlikTech (see vendor profile). These companies’ mobile BI strategy development efforts have paid off in fervent interest in their solutions by small to large organizations in various industries.
Let’s use our standard set of criteria to compare the offerings from these two vendors:
- General features. You may find some basic information relevant to consider when evaluating a mobile BI solution.
- Mobile platform. This is the type of mobile operating system on which the mobile BI solution can run.
- Connectivity and integration. Many organizations need to connect the new mobile solution to a pre-existing BI platform or other types of systems. Can you connect or integrate your mobile BI application with other traditional BI applications?
- Architecture. How is the BI platform installed: is it hosted, or on-premise? And how is information being visualized on the mobile phone: with a thin client, or using a specific app?
- Security. This is how the BI application applies security measures to ensure that data is safe and to prevent data leaks.
In contrast to the niche BI vendors Roambi and VisualKPI, reviewed in the last issue of this blog post series, MicroStrategy and QlikTech offer BI suites with recently added mobile BI capabilities on top of their BI infrastructure. These vendors offer a full-fledged BI application, with mobile services included. Let’s take a closer look at the mobile BI landscape and what you need to consider when searching for a mobile BI solution.
Founded in 1989, MicroStrategy has amassed more than 20 years of experience in the BI software space and is one of the few BI software providers that have evaded acquisition by or merger with another vendor. The company, based in Virginia (USA), recently took an important step toward developing mobile BI technology for the delivery of analytics and BI to the business end user. MicroStrategy released MicroStrategy Mobile for BlackBerry in July 2007, and MicroStrategy Mobile for iPad and iPhone in June 2010.
Here are some of the features of MicroStrategy’s mobile BI applications:
- General features. Intended as more than a data visualization solution, MicroStrategy’s mobile BI solution supports interactivity with the end user. The solution offers an interesting display of different graphs and searching capabilities for documents and data, as well as data grid organization frameworks. The solution can be used with iPad and iPhone cameras to enhance visualization of pictures and images; it also has geo-localization capabilities for map-based analysis. MicroStrategy’s Mobile solution delivers touch optimized controls and interactivity. It enables companies to build—code-free—applications that support their business workflows and operational decision making. MicroStrategy additionally allows organizations to embed transactional capabilities into apps.
- Mobile platform. MicroStrategy Mobile BI Suite is designed to work with Apple’s iOS platform (iPhone and iPad), which and can be downloaded from the App Store, and Blackberry (RIM) devices.
- Connectivity and integration. MicroStrategy’s mobile BI suite integrates with the company’s BI Suite on the MicroStrategy 9 platform. The MicroStrategy BI server allows users to read information from different sources, from traditional databases and MDX sources, to web services and distributed applications.
- Architecture. MicroStrategy’s mobile BI platform relies on the deployment of the MicroStrategy Mobile Suite, which runs on Windows or Linux/UNIX servers, and on native apps or clients for both Apple and Blackberry platforms (discussed above), to provide optimal possible interaction between the mobile device and the BI suite solution.
- Security. MicroStrategy takes advantage of both MicroStrategy mobile app security and Apple’s iOS native protection applications to produce custom-configured versions of MicroStrategy’s mobile solutions with provisioning profile. As Apple applications are run in a “sandbox,” data stored in other applications cannot be accessed. The secure application authentication feature provides encrypted keychain for passwords and digital identifiers, along with password policies, for the complete MicroStrategy BI platform.
- Customers: Campbell’s, eBay, Guess
MicroStrategy’s mobile development strategies have culminated in the recent addition of the Mobile BI Suite to the company’s BI platform, resulting in a complete BI offering. Advantages of the Mobile BI Suite include seamless integration with MicroStrategy’s platform and reliable security. With interesting graph display and easy interactivity between devices and the BI platform, the Mobile BI Suite from MicroStrategy is an appealing option for small and medium businesses (SMBs) and large organizations looking to acquire mobile BI capabilities.
You can see the features of MicroStrategy Mobile Suite at work in this video on YouTube.
Founded in Sweden in 1993, QlikTech is provider of software that extracts data from different sources and uses in-memory technology to analyze it at very high speed. QlikTech’s BI product, QlikView, provides data analysis for the business end user and is recognized as one of the strongest competitors in the BI space. By incorporating a mobile BI solution, QlikTech brings portability to data analysis capabilities for the business end user, extending the reach of BI to on-to-the-go and offsite employees—i.e., across the entire organization.
Below are some of the features of QlikView:
- General features. Taking advantage of its associative in-memory analysis platform, QlikView for Mobile interacts with mobile BI devices at a fast pace to deliver results at very high speed. Not specific to tablets, QlikView for Mobile takes full advantage of touch capabilities, and interaction of user with graphs and charts.
- Mobile platform. QlikView for Mobile runs on different devices: Apple (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), Android (e.g., Motorola Droid and Samsung Galaxy), and Blackberry (BlackBerry Bold and BlackBerry Storm), as well as on desktops and laptops. These devices require a complete set of applications to use the information generated by QlikView Publisher.
- Connectivity and integration. Using its existing platform, QlikView can read information from different sources: ODBCs, Files (plaint text, XML, etc.), SAP systems, and salesforce.com. It can also deliver information to all the aforementioned devices.
- Architecture. QlikTech’s QlikView for Mobile product runs on a mobile server and uses a native device client, installed in the device, to provide information to mobile devices, producing dynamic and collaborative content that takes full advantage of the specific features of the mobile device.
- Security. QlikView for Mobile security capabilities are managed at the levels of the device, transmission, and authentication. As data is not stored in the device, there are no security risks with the device itself. At the level of transmission, QlikView for Mobile provides support for both virtual private network (VPN) connections and hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS)/secure socket layer (SSL) communication protocols. And authentication is done via Active Directory Single Sign On services provided by third parties or digital certificates.
- Customers: De Hypotheekshop, Lilly, National Grid, Microsoft
You can see the features of QlikView on Mobile at work in this video on YouTube.
Robust Set of Solutions for Businesses
MicroStrategy and QlikTech offer a complete set of BI applications, making them strong competitors in both the BI software space in general and the mobile BI software space in particular. By offering mobile BI as an add-on to the users’ preexisting BI infrastructure, these vendors empower their users with mobile BI capabilities without requiring them to make changes to their BI platform.
In the same light, users seeking mobile BI capabilities need to have a BI application platform in place before they can acquire mobile BI services.
Finally, while QlikView provides an innovative in-memory architecture, along with mobile BI services, enabling fast data-device interaction, MicroStrategy provides a robust set of applications for performing the complete set of activities related to BI.
Use TEC Advisor if you’d like to compare the capabilities of mobile and traditional BI solutions and see how they may be able to meet your organization’s needs. If you’d like to read the previous issues of this blog post series, click on the links below:
BI Hits the Road
BI Hits the Road II
BI Hits the Road III: Two Niche Vendors Considered
I welcome your thoughts—please leave a comment below, and I’ll respond as soon as I can.