Daily Dose of iQ: Mobile Devices Put Power of BI in Hands of Front-Line Employees

Dec 13, 2011 — Allan Pulga

Ann All of IT Business Edge wrote a column yesterday about the trend of business intelligence (BI) moving away from just senior executives and more into the mainstream -- BI is apparently becoming increasingly accessed by front-line employees.

What's driving this trend? "The increased presence of mobile devices at many companies," writes All.

"When I spoke with Barney Finucane, author of the 10th edition of the BI Survey, an annual research report produced by the Business Application Research Center, he told me that while just 8 percent of organizations are using mobile BI today, 30 percent of them plan to use it within 12 months."

According to Finucane, there are two clear potential groups for mobile BI:

  • People who already use BI and want mobile access to it
  • People who don't currently use BI but would benefit from it.

"Mobile can change BI and offer new opportunities... You have guys walking around warehouses and factory floors who need to make fast decisions," Finucane writes. "There are lots of those kinds of opportunities."

"Given the nature of those opportunities," All writes, "Finucane said mobile BI is more effective when coupled with technologies like real-time analytics."

Finucane says both mobile BI and real-time analytics are about immediacy -- getting the data right now. The two complement each other.

In today's retail environment, the market is constantly changing, yet planning is still important. The key is to react to changing conditions in order to meet your business goals.

  • Data driven analysis using BI gives executives and senior managers the tools to identify strengths and weaknesses across the operation -- to drive better strategy and business planning.
  • Benchmarking can help identify best practices (e.g. how to improve attachment rates and profit per invoice, optimize inventory levels, and effectively manage commissions and carrier reconciliations).
  • Real-time analytics help you measure results against targets and make fast decisions when required.

Retailers who do embrace the use of analytics including benchmarking can see significant results. In 2010, RQ4 users who did so:

  • Sold $27.42 more per invoice than the National Median, calculating over $195,000 more in sales per location.
  • Earned an average of $65,649 more in profit per location than the National Median, representing profit per invoice that is $8.64 greater than the National Median

So, the take-home message is: Mobile BI and real-time analytics not only empower your staff (at all levels) with the data to make faster, more effective decisions -- they also help you boost profits.

Topics: Retail Operations, RQ, Mobile Industry, Business Intelligence

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