Big data and mobility are changing the face of business intelligence (BI), as executives, managers and salespeople demand more information and access to that information from their mobile devices. The payoff: offering on-the-go workers the latest business metrics can boost efficiency and profitability.

But providing large data queries, on demand, to small, hard-to-secure devices poses performance and security challenges. IM leaders can prepare for the inevitable technical challenges and organizational resistance with these steps:

Technical challenges

  • Application performance. A slow mobile app is a useless mobile app. Mobile devices lack reliable, high access speeds for real-time, interactive queries; yet static, prebuilt reports don’t help end users. You must plan to transmit high-volume data in nearly real-time.

    “What good is a query that runs for over two hours?” asks Bruce Yen, director of business intelligence at Guess. “Users just get frustrated,” he says. By switching to Vertica’s next-generation analytical database, Guess found that the same queries came back in 20 seconds.


  • Security. Work closely with your CISO to address the common vectors for enterprise data loss:
    • Encryption—protection of in-transit data;
    • Authentication—prevention of unauthorized use;
    • Access—creation of policies to limit high-risk activities; and
    • Partitioning—separation of enterprise and private user data to ease remote wipe of lost or stolen devices.
  • Ease of use. Confusing or unwieldy apps stymie user adoption and cripple ROI. At Guess, data is so digestible that one executive made a call to reallocate a top-selling item—during a training session with a new BI solution.

    “Seeing people use the apps while they are in meetings gives us great satisfaction,” Yen says, and it shows how the investment pays off.


Organizational challenges

Going mobile strengthens effectiveness and job satisfaction, but these “big picture” advantages tend to be intangible to folks up and down the org chart. To mitigate resistance to change:

  • Convince the CIO. Prepare to show how extending BI to new roles in the organization can grow revenue or curb costs.
  • Know the business. Ascertain the lines of business’s top wants and needs, and target those items first.
  • Keep an eye on consumer device trends. Leverage favorite platforms and device features to ensure the “wow” factor for users.
  • Start small and scale. A pilot program provides noticeable results for minimal cost and effort.
  • Partner with a vendor. An experienced partner can keep roadblocks from derailing the project and help you take advantage of current BI trends.


The current Discover Performance newsletter (from which this post was adapted) offers keen insights and best practices about mobility and its influence on the enterprise landscape. Sign up today to receive the newsletter and learn how you can turn IT performance into business success.

Learn more about what Vertica and Guess have done with mobile BI.