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The 1 Thing iPad and BlackBerry Users Can Agree Upon

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What is the rise of tablet computers doing to business? Just this: By 2013, at least 25% of all users will consume business intelligence (BI) data exclusively on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet.

The findings are part of a survey of roughly 200 organizations conducted by longtime BI market watcher Howard Dresner. From June to December of last year, he and his team found an unmistakable shift toward putting business data in the hands of employees in the field.

"In conversations with these organizations, we hear a similar story -- mobile BI is a great enabler. It allows the information to be accessed wherever and whenever the users need it," Dresner wrote in the study's concluding remarks.

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) and Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) deserve much of the credit. More than 40% of respondents using iPhones and iPads had deployed mobile BI as of December, Dresner's study found. More than 50% of organizations using the BlackBerry had similar designs.

BI is software for sifting through and making sense of large data sets. Mobile BI is analytical software built specifically for a mobile device. By acting to spread data far and wide, organizations hope to make better decisions, faster.

Investors should love this idea and the stocks behind them. Among public companies, I believe likely winners will be those that already have experience delivering functional BI in the lightweight mobile form factor. Qlik Technologies' (Nasdaq: QLIK  ) in-memory BI system fits the mold nicely, while MicroStrategy (Nasdaq: MSTR  ) is enjoying massive growth thanks in part to its apps for the iPad.

Enterprise incumbents IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) , with its Cognos suite, and SAP (NYSE: SAP  ) , with its BusinessObjects platform, are also not to be discounted. But in the fast-moving world of mobile devices and data, these behemoths may be starting from behind.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think about the rise of tablets, mobile BI, and the ongoing shift toward accessing business data from anywhere using the comments box below. You can also rate Qlik Technologies and MicroStrategy in Motley Fool CAPS.

Interested in more info on the stocks mentioned in this story? Add Apple, IBM, Google, MicroStrategy, Qlik Technologies, Research In Motion or SAP to your watchlist.

Qlik Technologies is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple and IBM at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool owns shares of IBM and Apple, in which it has also written puts. The Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy is wicked smaht.

Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2011, at 7:34 PM, marv08 wrote:

    There is really nothing to disagree with here. It is true and it is more than obvious.

    The problem lies elsewhere (and the solution is up for grabs)... It is (rather) easy to solve the BI part, as these systems have always used a proper separation of data and representation. For them a mobile device is just another device. It is also quite a no-brainer for large corporations which have invested in KM and proper use of structured formats (no matter if XML, SGML or what else) that can be easily parsed and validated. The problem are the gazillions of medium and small businesses that sit on huge junkyards of (often compound) "Office" documents having no structure whatsoever, the guys that abused Excel sheets for everything, etc. This data is basically useless and bringing it to "new" platforms is involving tons of manual labor. I have recently started a 3-year infrastructure project involving an entity with approx. 15,000 staff (I can't name). An enterprise of that size did not even have a structured phone list. We have three clerks re-typing it since two weeks now (they are not that slow, they just have to validate every single record by making phone calls, as the first three records they have processed turned out to have deceased years ago).

    Technology is great and mobile BI is one of the greatest things to happen in years. Assuming that most companies are really able to benefit from it without huge investments and labor would be too optimistic IMHO.

  • Report this Comment On February 11, 2011, at 6:10 AM, Roland33 wrote:

    Having worked in the BI industry for over a decade I can only agree with the article as well as with the comment on requiring a reliable basis for successful BI deployments. In order for BI to be beneficial for organizations, the underlying structure – ensuring data availability and accuracy – is critically important. Mobile devices are at the end of the day just another window into the same data. Its incredible fast and broad acceptance, as nicely documented in the Mobile BI Study from Howard Dresner, can surely be credited to the great improvements in usability of those devices as well as to the (almost) ubiquitous availability of bandwidth. And of course, business and people become more and more mobile and timely availability of relevant information is often critical.

    However, in order to leverage the full potential of BI for making a difference in organizational performance, content has to be relevant, reliable and easily accessible for different users with different roles and responsibilities. This often means that putting a tool in the hands of the user is simply not enough. Fitting different needs, incorporating business logic paired with an attractive user experience become critical success factors for vendors providing solutions in this arena. I strongly believe this leaves plenty of room for innovative and end-user focused solution providers in addition to those vendors mentioned in the article.

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