iPhone, iPad get Microstrategy mobile BI

McLean, Virginia-based vendor Microstrategy Inc. announced its mobile business intelligence for Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad, a move that certainly responds to the recognition among executives of mobile intelligence as a high priority, said the company’s country manager for Canada.

“Its really playing into the heart of the self-service need that they’ve seen in the whole area of reducing costs and getting IT away from having to build all the reports,” Microstrategy’s Jim Broadley told ComputerWorld Canada.

Broadley’s interaction with Canadian chief information officers in the last six months have shown a high degree of interest in building out a mobile strategy.

Microstrategy already offers its mobile business intelligence for Research in Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry. Extending that capability to the iPhone and the iPad is in response to the advancements in touch technology from Apple, said Broadley. Microstrategy’s mobile BI takes advantage of capabilities like swiping a finger against the screen and to move from panel to panel instead of relying on a series of mouse clicks. Nominate someone you work with for a ComputerWorld Canada IT Leadership Award

But while the BlackBerry may be the predominant business hand-held device today, Microstrategy isn’t limiting its mobile strategy to the business world. “We believe mobile intelligence will spread beyond the traditional bounds of (being) focused on internal business intelligence,” said Broadley. “We’re seeing it focused on the external and the consumer market in the future.”

When that happens, mobile business intelligence apps will support a broad base comprising millions of users, said Broadley.

Microstrategy has sought to make the user experience more streamlined via features like automatic user role identification, auto-location detection through GPS data and a barcode scanning feature that employs the phone’s camera.

As an enticement, Microstrategy is offering customers 25 perpetual unrestricted licenses at no charge, with the hopes they will want to buy additional ones. This “quick strike” package, said Broadley, will allow customers to adopt and pilot it in their own environments while also affording Microstrategy a “good foundation to work upon.”

Broadley said the Canadian market shows a split in companies preferring mobile intelligence on the BlackBerry versus the iPhone or iPad. One customer, retailer Nygard, has rolled out Microstrategy Mobile Intelligence for the BlackBerry to its entire sales force for more than a year, he said. On the other hand, Rogers Communications Inc., Bank of Montreal and CIBC are focusing on the iPhone.

Microstrategy Mobile pricing ranges from US$550 to $2,000 per user. In terms of support for other hand-held devices, Broadley said the company is looking at others like the Android.

Another customer, Alloso Technologies, which makes specialized software for the hospitality industry, is using Microstrategy’s mobile technology in an iPhone application aimed at hotel general managers, said chief technology officer Jon Gorman.

“General managers at hotels are typically not spending their time in front of computers,” said Gorman. “We wanted to come out with something more portable.”

The application will provide managers with financial information, such as how the business is performing against its budget, or to break down room rates to see which sources customers are coming from, he said.

He praised Apple’s approach to iPhone development, saying the substantial periods between OS releases has allowed time for the APIs (application programming interfaces) to stabilize.

In the future, Alloso is looking to develop an iPad application for users “who aren’t so mobile,” Gorman said.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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