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Mobile BI good news for retailers

By Retail Technology | Thursday July 10 2014

The coupling of mobile and BI, which will flourish in the next two years, is already benefitting retailers. Monica Heck reports from Barcelona

Mobile BI applications can empower field workers, especially if thought is put into their conception as a tool for empowerment and not just a simple replica of a desktop application.

In his opening speech at the MicroStrategy European user conference this week in Barcelona, company CEO and chairman Michael J. Saylor outlined his passion for the thought process behind mobile business intelligence applications.

“Mobile application theory is forming and people are really starting to think hard about how to structure a mobile [BI] app so that it’s different to web, for example,” he said. “There are more and more places where analytics can be injected in the enterprise, as sales people are increasingly looking for analytics to be at their fingertips. Empowering the field workers is a theme we see exploding across the environment at this time.”

Retailers going mobile

Saylor sees this trend across a number of industries, but in particular in retail, as sales is becoming an increasingly analytical business. The company got into mobile in 2009 and now boasts over 1,000 customers using its mobile BI offering, which include Johnson & Johnson, Sennheiser and Switzerland’s largest supermarket chain Migros.

Another Swiss company using this technology is press product distribution and outlet company Naville, that uses Mobile BI to answer questions from its client publishers immediately. In a video interview, CIO Dominique Chemin explained that mobile BI has allowed them to put “everything on tablet: everything is linked. This is the way people will work going forward.

“It has simplified processes. The process is still the same, you visit the point of sales and discuss what they should do, but the fact that we have a mobile application allows us to answer requests in real-time. It makes us more flexible, more reactive and we can now provide quality of information.”

Immediacy and consistency

In the same video, Armen Avedissian, COO at online dating website eHarmony, said that data is the company’s “bloodline”. “It’s very important for us to get access to our most critical key metrics performance consistently across devices.  Whether we look at the data from a tablet or a mobile device, it’s about consistency of the reporting through the MicroStrategy dashboard.”

Danielle Schmelkin of American luxury leather goods brand Coach said some of the major benefits it gets from mobile BI include efficiency, the ability to expose as much data as can be pumped into its database or other sources and the ability to be interactive or mobile with its data. 

“Wherever I am, I can have access to my data, I don’t have think about it ahead of time. I can take a trip to Asia and not print out reports that are going to be stale by the time I get off the plane.”

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