In the pursuit of application perfection, developers are embracing business intelligence for its ability to deliver powerful analytics to its users. Now, with a growing mobile workforce, mobile business intelligence (BI) has become an increasingly critical business imperative. In fact, a recent report from Market Research Future projects the mobile BI market will expand at a 23 percent CAGR from 2016 to 2022, reaching $13 billion by the end of that timeframe.
As the demand for embedded analytics on any screen increases, development teams are being tasked with delivering and optimizing mobile BI. Ultimately, the mobile applications that users embrace – and that have the potential for high impact – are the ones that provide a seamless user experience and analytics that enable users to make better-informed decisions in real-time. With that in mind, here are some common pitfalls to look out for if your team is developing a mobile BI solution:
1 Forgetting your Audience
Above all else, developers must be aware of the distinct differences that define desktop and mobile users. As the label implies, desktop workers are typically working at a workstation of some sort – often affording them the luxury of multiple large screens and the interface flexibility that comes with these types of setups.
On the other hand, mobile users are generally out in the field or working in roles that require them to be on the move for much of the day. Perhaps these are sales representatives that do a lot of traveling or factory workers that rarely remain in one place for long yet require the ability to easily view and interpret data throughout the day. These are the employees that benefit most from well-designed mobile BI applications – this is your audience.
2 Information Overload
When building a mobile interface for your BI app, it can be tempting to try to replicate the desktop experience, with all the information drill-downs and design bells and whistles it entails. But mobile Bl dashboards need to complement—not replace or exactly replicate—the experience a user has on a desktop.
When it comes to mobile analytics, developers need to approach the limited area of the “small screen” as precious real estate, a limited resource, and should therefore only convey the most critical information. Any attempt to cram large quantities of data onto a mobile screen will make it difficult for users to distinguish between elements and process information quickly, which after all, is the entire purpose of mobile BI in the first place. That said, developers can utilize tactics such as hiding certain data and controls, making them visible only at the time when it’s relevant to the user.
Consider a data grid that has 100 columns. You might not want to serve that to a mobile audience. Instead, consider giving them a small snippet—just the important information in a mobile context. To hide content, utilize pop-up windows and sliding trays. This has the bonus of speeding up load times—and as any developer knows, poor performance is a killer for application engagement.
It is important to remember that while mobile devices are powerful, they are not great for general computing tasks. However, they do excel at targeted information retrieval that supports the user in-context away from their PC. When it comes to mobile, application perfection is achieved when developers create applications that are context-aware and analytically rich, delivering powerful insights to their end-users.
3 Leaving QA for the End
All too often, the application development process exists in silos; breeding inefficiency and UX challenges that can derail your project. When development teams leave QA as the last step before rollout, they risk having to go back to address any challenges the QA team uncovers.
By bringing the QA process in at the start with the rest of the fray, you allow for continuous feedback and optimization, translating into a far better experience for mobile analytics users down the line. This approach also allows developers, designers, and any other employees on the project team to make necessary adjustments in near real-time, saving potential future headaches.
Mobile is no longer optional. It is a new way of doing—and thinking about—business. Yet, developing an effective mobile BI application doesn’t just happen; it requires proper preparation and planning. For a project as complex as mobile BI, mistakes do happen – the good news is that, with proper insight and guidance, common pitfalls like these can be avoided.