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.