Apple's iPhone, iPad lead the way as mobile BI matures, says Ovum

Android also has wide support, but RIM and Microsoft are lagging behind

Apple and Google's Android have the widest adoption among mobile BI (business intelligence) applications, as the products are becoming more mature, according to a report from market research company Ovum.

Mobile BI is far from a new concept, but more bandwidth and better devices have helped propel the market.

All 12 vendors in Ovum's report have applications for Apple's iOS platform, followed closely by Android. Oracle is the only one that doesn't officially support Android, but will according to its road map, said Ovum analyst Fredrik Tunvall.

Half the vendors have support for BlackBerry tablets and smartphones while only four can accommodate Microsoft's previous generation of tablets and smartphones. Ovum's report doesn't include applications for Windows 8, RT and Phone 8. Information Builders, JackBe and Yellowfin have clients for all operating systems.

"I definitely think we are going to see more adoption of Windows because it has such a big presence and with the Surface Microsoft has built a more efficient tablet," Tunvall said.

When it comes to Research In Motion's upcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system, BI vendors will take a cautious approach.

"Most of them, I believe, will wait and see how well the new OS is accepted and adopted by both the consumer and enterprise market," Tunvall said.

Mobile BI applications are used by executives to keep track of how their businesses are doing on a more daily basis, and also by more employees in the field in sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and utilities. Mobile BI is used both to input data directly into systems and to show live data, which makes for more interactive meetings.

"People are using tablets and smartphones to consume data. But if you want to do more interactive stuff, tablets are a better fit because of the bigger screen. A smartphone is more like an old printed report," Tunvall said.

Today it's the midsize vendors that are leading the way with feature-packed yet functional mobile solutions, but during this year big vendors like IBM, SAS and Oracle will step up their mobile efforts. Among the big vendors, SAP has so far been the most active, according to Tunvall.

This year, vendors will also work to improve user interfaces, add more features for collaboration and develop products that are prebuilt for specific roles, sectors and functions.

"Mobile BI is a big rethink for many vendors who usually have concentrated on the expert data analyst in the back office. It is about getting more people involved in the process, be it an expert or a novice," Tunvall said.

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