Mobile devices are becoming a popular client device for mobile users. Tablets are a great way to distribute information since they provide a form factor that can be used anywhere, but provide a form factor that can present all the information users want to see on one screen.
Let’s take a look at this retail performance dashboard application. This application has what I think are the key elements of a great BI App.
First: quick access to key elements in a tiled interface.
Second: visuals that show historical trends for these metrics.
Third: a way to visualize metrics in a tangible way, such as superimposed on a map.
Next: interactivity such as filters to slice data and visualizations that stay synchronized with each other as the user interacts with them.
And finally: the ability to analyze large volumes easily. The data for this dashboard application, for example, comes from a 26GB SQL Server database.
So how can I use this application? Well on this app I can look at the key metrics for my entire store chain. Each KPI in the list shows the metric’s current value, its status and its trend. By displaying the visual indicators it’s easy to tell where my stores are doing well, and where they’re not doing as well.
The line chart on the bottom shows the two year trend for whatever KPI I select. The map on the right shows how my regions are doing. If I click on any metric, these visualizations are updated with my choice.
For example, if I choose Average Selling Price; or Gross Margin.
At the top of the screen I have buttons I can use to select just a slice of the data. Right now I’m looking at just my Vandalay Industries brand. But I can change that to Binford Tools and see that this brand isn’t doing as well. But actually it’s doing better in two regions than it’s doing in the other two.
Maps are a natural surface to visualize information upon. In this US map a perimeter is drawn around the stores in each region. By adding color to each region I can see quickly where I’m doing better and worse across the US.
If I want to see a specific geography in more detail, I can use a slicer to look at only that region. So let me switch to Tennessee. Now I can see the location of each store in Tennessee on the map. The pin color shows whether the performance in that store is acceptable or not. And again, I can choose different metrics, and all the other visualizations are updated.
Of course I can zoom in on this map, and I can see that in Memphis I have one specific store that’s underperforming the rest. If I want to see exactly where that store is, I can just keep zooming in.
If I want to move to a different state, I can just choose it from the list. States aren’t the only way we visualize data, we might also choose a specific market, like the Chicago metro area.
Or maybe we’d like to look at Detroit. Note that I’m not just zooming the map around to different areas. Every selection I make updates the list of Key Performance Indicators and the trend chart. This way of visualizing information provides an experience that easily surpasses a set of reports delivered by E-Mail.
We’ve seen some key elements that make a great mobile BI application.
First: Highly Responsive. Mobile users are accustomed to sub-second response time, and we need to be sensitive to that. Next: highly interactive. As mobile users, we expect applications that are interactive and intuitive to use. We want to explore and tap the screen to get more detail.
Next: graphically rich. We’re not just providing a mobile way to read tables of numbers. We’re using the unique capabilities these devices have to offer to enrich the experience for the user.
And finally: we’re providing access to all the data–not just a taste of it. The application you saw can analyze over 250 million rows of data. Many of our end users want a complete experience in a mobile format, and the latest mobile devices clearly make that possible.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this demonstration. If you’d like to learn more please visit my blog at http://www.robkerr.com; visit the BlueGranite web site at http://www.blue-granite.com. Or follow me on twitter @robkerrbi