Analysts are predicting strong growth in mobile business intelligence. For example in their 2011 report, “Emerging Technology Analysis: Mobile Business Intelligence” Gartner predicted that 33% of BI functionality would be consumed via handheld device by 2013. Dresner Advisory Services in their 2012 study, Wisdom of Crowds Mobile Computing found that 70% of companies stated that more than 11% of their BI usage will be exclusively mobile by 2014. Whatever the number, there are compelling reasons for having access to your data anywhere but before you under take building a mobile dashboard you need to keep some principles in mind.
The mobile dashboard will only be seen as successful if it is widely adopted by the business users. Business users have experience consuming iPad and iPhone applications in their personal life resulting in expectations of fast, simple and user-friendly applications on their mobile devices. So how does IT make sure they deliver a dashboard that will have a true connection to the everyday decisions that people need to make on the fly and be as appealing and engaging as any consumer iPad app?
The First Tip: Simplify and Aim for Only for Mobile Use Cases
Get behind the users eyes and understand how they are going to access and use the dashboard. In general the business user is going to be accessing their mobile device when standing rather than sitting down. This impacts the amount of data they really need or want to access – the mobile device dashboard doesn’t have to cover all angles as the business user is not likely to do more analysis type of activities on the go. Have conversations with your end users to determine exactly what information would provide business value on their device. Mobile devices have limited memory capacity and this limitation needs to be taken into account when designing your dashboard. Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to build a dashboard that is all things to all people – this is definitely a situation where less is more. Start by focusing on a few key things that will add value to the user on the go and once you have that first success based on simplicity you can build on it. The added benefit of this is that your dashboard will be faster and more stable.
The Second Tip: Using Fingers for Interactivity on an iPad
Think about how they are holding the iPad in a portrait or landscape position and therefore how they are going to interact with the dashboard. How will they touch easily and comfortably the drop downs or buttons for interacting? If they use their thumbs to do so then perhaps the bottom left or right corner are where you would want to base the controls depending on what hand is dominate. If they use their finger, with which hand are they maintaining a good gripe on the iPad for easy interaction?
The user must find it simple and hassle free to engage with the Dashboard. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to get a menu or chart to drill down and having to tap multiple times with big fingers trying to make it work. To avoid this issue you should start with a minimum of 44 pixel size so your users can easily interact with drop down menus. This applies even to the size of charts - for example each bar needs to be large enough so by holding down on a bar the numbers appear.
Example of tooltips numbers
Example of interaction with drop down menu
A few specific tips for SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards:
Check for supported components and connectivity for mobile
Make sure to download SAP Business Objects Mobile 4.4 and onwards
Use the NOVA theme, it is the only one supported for mobile
Set the designer canvas size to the same as the iPad: 1024 x 768
Ensure you use only iOS supported fonts
Use efficient excel logic and review other performance tips to ensure you don’t overload the limited capacity of the device. Test performance early and often on device.
To successfully build an engaging mobile dashboard – study your business user’s needs and focus on a 1 to 3 specific priority decisions that they need to make on the fly. Start with a small dashboard, turn it around quickly and on once you’ve got a well adopted, successful dashboard you can extend or build out from there.