Information Builders targets iPad, Android with BI suite

Native support for Apple and Android devices is a selling point

Information Builders upped its ante in mobile BI (business intelligence) software on Tuesday, announcing a product suite that includes native capabilities for Apple and Android devices.

The company had already offered Mobile Favorites, a browser-based product. It and the new WebFocus Mobile release use Information Builders' Active Technology capabilities, which offer an embedded analytics engine and an interactive user experience.

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WebFocus Mobile provides device-specific features for the iPad, iPhone and Android-based phones and tablets, including native menus, controls and gestures, according to a statement.

In addition, the software can automatically detect a device type and screen size, then morph the views accordingly. This feature cuts down on development effort normally expended on supporting multiple device platforms, Information Builders said.

Those features seem aimed at overcoming some of the obstacles to adoption mobile BI has faced.

For one, many smartphones don't have the right form factor for BI, notes an upcoming Forrester Research report. "While many BI apps can easily deliver text messages, email based alerts, and even document attachments to mobile devices, truly analytical BI applications require certain amounts of screen real estate to display, interact and analyze all relevant information on a single small screen," it states.

BI applications also involve "complex interactions" with data, such as "drill across (to another dimension), hierarchy drill down/up, drill through (to another source, to another dashboard, or to a detailed report), filter, group, pivot, rank, and sort," the report adds. "Tiny mobile keyboards and pointing devices limit such high levels of complex interactivity."

However, the bigger screens provided by tablet computers will change the game for mobile BI in rapid order, according to Forrester. About 30 percent of respondents to a recent survey by the firm said they have already or are planning to implement business software on tablets, and another 41 percent are interested but have no plans, the report states.

In fact, tablets will overtake standard laptops for mobile BI within three to five years, according to Forrester.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for the IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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