Author Archives: Cynthia Davis

Seeking an Ideal BI Solution with the Speed of Buy and the Capability of Build?

Building your own BI solution today can seem like a good idea considering the high cost of some BI solutions and the number of open source components available. The reality is that development projects rarely stay on budget and with the limited resources and time it is much more cost effective to focus on core business value instead of generic technology.

The benefits of the mobile BI market are many: real time decision making, visible business performance via dashboards, ability to drill down into details, agility which comes with having relevant information readily available, and the collaboration mobile employee’s experience. Buying a cost effective, out of the box mobile BI solution which leverages existing investments becomes very compelling because of lowered TCO, mitigated risk, and rapid implementation.

With Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP) spending predicted to grow to $1.7B in 2015, one thing to keep in mind is the opportunity cost, as well as the true cost of building any technology. It’s doubtful this is a core part of your business IP and that there are many other industry specific investments which would help grow your business on your list. These are the ones your want to build. General purpose technology and infrastructure is generally a great area to buy. Of course, then there is the true cost of building this technology and supporting it with your own staff. If you have not seen this, check out our article on Code Project here.

You already have a mobile BI solution–you just don’t know it

The market environment today is very different from several years ago. Technology is seen as an enabler to achieve real business value and IT purchase decision making has evolved into a shared decision model involving many departments and blending both business and technology considerations.

IT purchases must demonstrate business value, return on investment, and financial impact. To achieve and maintain a competitive advantage we need to empower all of our employees with technology that makes an impact on productivity, results, agility and decision making.

ROI doesn’t have to be complicated. ROI really just means how much, how soon, and how certain:
How much do you need to mobilize your workforce now with mobile business intelligence?
How soon can this transformation actually happen?
How certain would you feel in the hands of the original architect of SQL Server Reporting Services?

Mobilizer is a cost effective, easy to use, out of the box mobile BI solution with no per user charges and no need for additional development or training.

Check out our short video on our home page that explains the key benefits of Mobilizer and let us show you how you can leverage your existing investment in SSRS and deliver mobile BI for a fraction of the cost and time.

Lions and Trends and Mobile BI

First, I’d like start off with a couple of Forerunner Software news items and then some trends we are seeing among our users that might interest you. We’ve just released our latest version of Mobilizer 3.0 with many new features and RDL extensions that enable you to automatically define fixed size tables and matrixes and add client side JavaScript that enhances manipulation on text boxes and images.

SQL Magazine has again highlighted our unique Mobilizer, Forerunner Founder Jason Carlson’s work in creating Mobilizer for mobile BI and our continued partnership with Microsoft to completely optimize the end user experience of SQL Server Reporting Services so that you can roam freely. The complete article can be found here:
http://sqlmag.com/sql-server-reporting-services/do-more-mobilizers-rdl-update-forerunner

One of the trends we’re seeing with our operational BI users is the empowerment of self service information needs. User adoption and ease-of-use of Mobilizer allow users to reap all of the benefits real time mobile BI brings. After shaking off any initial disbelief, everyone quickly celebrates the fact that Forerunner has solved the printing problem in the realization they can now print with Mobilizer from any device or browser (yes, even on a Mac) with no need for an ActiveX control. Mundane tasks no longer require IT involvement and, with this one act, Mobilizer takes the thorn out of the proverbial lion’s paw.

In addition to traditional reporting software generally aimed at the IT staff to create pre-designed business reports, users can now create your own subscriptions delivered at your convenience, create personalized default parameters specific to your needs and unlimited dashboard style layouts to your liking. You can also include information from other applications in your report via an iFrame and post data to another application using HTML forms in your report.

Some customers are only targeting a specific user base by sharing the URL among a limited set of users. However, since Mobilizer has no per user charges and is truly meant to unleash the power of mobile BI across all devices and browsers to everyone, companies are rethinking this approach. Up to you—download your free trial at www.forerunnersw.com and try Mobilizer on your Mac using Chrome as your browser, or on your smart phone with IE, or your phablet with Safari. We’d love to hear your feedback once you do so call us at 855 367 3511.

What is your mobile BI strategy?

The first step to choosing a mobile BI solution is to define the features required to meet your own and/or your company’s needs. According to Dresner Advisory Services the features most important to businesses investigating BI software are integration with operational processes, advanced visualization, end-user self-service, and dashboards.

Extending BI functionality to mobile devices equates to more devices and users for the IT team to manage and most organizations already don’t have the IT bandwidth or the resources they need. However, having the ability to access the reports you need without constantly depending on your IT department is extremely important because business users simply don’t have time to wait passively and require real time access to mobile BI.

The mobile BI solution you choose should support multiple device platforms and ideally have a responsive UI that automatically adjusts to all of your devices and supports and works across any browser. The focus should remain on the user experience and ease of use.

The ability to present self-service reports graphically and create interactive data visuals that can be powerful in presenting key findings to CEOs, board members and/or other executives. You should be able to quickly create dashboards and different dashboard style layouts by combining multiple reports.

Recently an Aberdeen Group study found that managers who utilize mobile BI solutions are able to make decisions three times faster than those without—-one of the many reasons mobile BI has become a central component of every company’s technology strategy.

Different Mobile BI Tools and Different Mobile BI Rules

A long time ago I heard a saying “There are only two things you need to do. Live and die.” This saying resonated with me mostly because of its truth and partly because of its simplicity.  In the mobile BI world I wish there were a similar saying such as, “There are only two things you need to do—-save money and empower your decision makers.”

I admit, finding the best available tools in the mobile Business Intelligence market is not exactly easy or simple. In my last blog regarding The Mobile BI Tug of War I pointed out some of the main challenges: most BI visual front ends still use technology not supported by mobile browsers and smaller screens need to accommodate the same amount of information.

Additionally, many organizations now want to have only one platform for mobile BI when they actually should have two—one for their Power BI users (probably less than 10% of their users) and one for the rest of the mobile workforce who simply need to generate the type of reports they need when and wherever they need them on whatever device or browser they choose to use.

What I didn’t point out in my last blog is that Forerunner Software’s Mobilizer is the only mobile BI solution providing server solutions for SSRS. Truly we have no competition other than prospective customers who are considering migrating away from the Microsoft BI stack to data analytics and visualization offerings from Microsoft competitors. There are also device only solutions, but they are just image rendering on a device.

MOBILIZER                                                    versus                        “COMPETITORS”
Leverage existing investment in SSRS     versus         $$$ High end analytics $$$
No per user charges                                   versus         $1000 plus per seat
No additional training                                versus          Training costs for new solution
No additional development                      versus          Having to rewrite reports
Use the same security as SSRS                 versus          New security protocols/concerns

Right this very minute mobile BI is playing an important transformational role within many organizations. Extremely evident today is that organizations must deliver the power of mobile BI as easily and simply as possible.

The Mobile BI Tug of War

The mobile business intelligence landscape is gripped with change and organizations now tussle with the need to respond and react. For companies that currently leverage the Microsoft BI stack and SQL Server Reporting Services, the tug of war in question is whether to continue to leverage existing investments and supplement SSRS or ultimately replace SSRS with a completely different and vastly expensive offering for mobile BI. Sure, some mobile BI solutions say they are complementary and not competitive to the Microsoft BI stack and SSRS, but many C level execs and IT decision makers with limited budgets are being forced to choose between one or the other.

For BI power users tasked with strategic planning and analysis  SSRS provides many tools and services to easily customize report processing in customized environments. Users can create maps and visualization of data for three dimensional views that helps to draw insights and conclusions. As one of our customer’s states, however, 98% of users just want a report. It’s like the Performance Management book that’s also known as the” Dig the Hole” book. People don’t want to talk ad nauseam about the trowels, shovels and bulldozers—they just want the hole dug. End users and executives not familiar with SQL are really only concerned with their ability to generate the type of reports they need when and wherever they need them, through easy, point and click on laptops or touch and swipe features on mobile devices.

Users now demand access to the same level of sophistication to which they are accustomed via their computer screens across all of their mobile devices and tablets which, by the way, the Gartner Group says are already the preferred consumption devices for mobile BI data. The challenges have been many: Most BI visual front ends still use technology not supported by mobile browsers (Silverlight, Flash, etc.) and smaller screens have to accommodate the same amount of information.

Forerunner Software has already established a firm mobile BI footing and taken a truly unique approach to the creation of Mobilizer for mobile BI across all devices and all browsers. Quite simply, Mobilizer works by unlocking SSRS for mobile no matter what device or browser you choose to use.

What makes Forerunner Software’s Mobilizer uniquely suited for helping you win the mobile BI tug of war?

• Mobilizer is an intuitive and easy to use out of the box solution – created by the original architect and developer of SSRS with the goal of thinking like the end user and optimizing the end user experience in every aspect, Mobilizer has a built in resonant UI which automagically resizes and aligns to the left on your mobile device without you lifting a finger and with end user subscriptions emailed reports can now be had in two clicks. The 8 years Forerunner Founder Jason Carlson ran the SSRS division within Microsoft gave him great insight into the requests and endless wish list end users have for SSRS. Now, in partnership with Microsoft, with Mobilizer he’s delivered on what SSRS can and should truly be.

• Mobilizer makes your work simple because all of your reports simply work – you can design your reports any way you want taking full advantage of the power of SSRS as Mobilizer supports all Reporting Services functionality. Since we focus on your end user experience, we have also added many additional features to make it easier, faster and more powerful to use Reporting Services in any browser and on any device.

• Mobilizer is not an advanced analytics tool that costs millions of dollars or thousands per user – Mobilizer works by simply unlocking SSRS across all devices and browsers. That’s it—there’s no additional development or additional training required. Better yet, because Mobilizer is licensed the same as SQL Server, per core, there are no per user charges. Imagine freeing the data to everyone in your organization to help your decision-makers and end-users gain greater insight into your business and make better decisions. Dig your heels into that powerful strength for competitive advantage.

The BYOD, BYOT concept and HTML5—and why you should not be punished for using such language

It’s been said that there are now more people today who own cell phones than toothbrushes. While we truly hope this statement is untrue, if it is then perhaps those without toothbrushes are at least getting their mouths washed out with soap.

It’s no denying that times have changed greatly and swiftly from back in the day. However, in the past, while we could sort of control our own destiny in many ways, now we are dealing with the BYOD, BYOT concept.

While not the panacea that some say it is, HTML5 is still a big step forward to development teams that need to support a wide array of mobile device types and users choice of browsers. With HTML5 nearly every piece of internet content will be able to be coded in HTML, JavaScript and CSS, becoming much more easily portable to all environments and browsers supporting HTML5.

Now browsers are able to integrate additional content like multimedia, mail, and rich internet applications with enhanced rendering capabilities, and no one knows better than the original architect and developer of SSRS, Jason Carlson, that HTML5, MVC and mobile are now ‘must have’ requirements.

Supporting increasingly sophisticated graphical capabilities; HTML5 runs in Web browsers and is mostly agnostic as to the nature of the device running the browser, which is precisely why Jason has created Mobilizer in HTML5.

Past browsers have been dependent on other technologies like Flash, Silverlight or Java. This has not always been beneficial to consumers, as Flash is not supported on iPhones or iPads. And, while SSRS is a very powerful reporting engine, the Report Viewer control is still an HTML4 WebForms control and doesn’t support MVC applications.

SSRS simply does not support modern devices such as iPhones and Androids and does not work across all browsers such as IE, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari consistently.

Essential for organizations that aim to provide business critical information to employees anywhere, anytime, and on any device is a modern day approach to modern applications that support all devices and work fluidly.

Who better than the original architect and developer of SSRS to focus on the end user experience and unlock the power of SSRS across all devices and browsers?

Forerunner Software does not charge extra to develop and test your applications. We provide a 30-day fully functional free trial and with every production license you get free development and test licenses.