Thursday Mar 13, 2014

BI Mobile: What’s the Deal with Android?

Android devices make up 80% of the worldwide mobile market. So if companies are promoting BYOD to work (bring your own devices), why haven’t we heard anything about Android Business Intelligence (BI) apps? Matt Milella, a Director of Product Development for Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile Apps, recently joined me on an Oracle Podcast to discuss a new Android BI offering and described why Android apps are special and not just Apple App clones.   

Matt started the conversation off by talking about what can be done with this new Android version of the Business Intelligence Mobile App. I asked him if it is basically the same as the Apple iOS version. His response was interesting -- “Well, Yes and No.  Yes, in that you can consume all of your OBIEE content including BI Mobile App Designer content just like the iOS version, but it is not the same exact thing.  When we decided to build an Android version we wanted to make sure that we delivered an ‘Android’ experience, and take advantage of specific Android features.”

That piqued my interest. If they are just both mobile operating systems, why would you want them to be different? Matt explained that it was important for Android users to feel comfortable in the application, so they wanted the app to look and act like other Android applications that the users have become accustomed to, such as Gmail or Google Now.  Users are then able to focus on what is being delivered – Business Intelligence.  

But that was just the beginning. Matt told us that they included a ‘card’ layout concept for browsing content just like YouTube or Google Now apps.  They have also taken search abilities to the next level, with search suggestions, support for voice search, and voice commands.  So now, users can open a dashboard by saying, ‘open’ and the dashboard name - or even part of the name.  “Android has really great voice controls that we were able to leverage, and this works really well.  We think that users will stop browsing the catalog and most if not all reports and dashboards will be opened with search,” said Matt. The last big item he told us about is the ‘tap-to-share’ feature using near field communications (NFC).  This works just like in the Samsung commercials!  

Tap and Share

Apparently, tap-to-share has a great use case for Business Intelligence.  Just think - you’re in a meeting discussing some numbers, a report, or a specific KPI, and everyone wants to look at them more carefully.   Typically this might be done manually (sharing a URL or report name) or by email, or everyone sending each other a link.  According to Matt, “now you literally can just tap someone’s Android device and ‘POW’ the same content opens, and of course it opens with the correct security context for that new user.”  Matt mentioned that they have more great ideas around sharing and getting on the same page with colleagues, and to stay tuned.

According to Matt, the new Android release will work on any sized Android device.  The application adapts to the screen size and for Android there are a lot of screen sizes. Android pioneered the Phablet  (phone/tablet) category, and they wanted to be sure to support devices like the Galaxy Note or the HTC One Max.  The BI content looks amazing on these larger screen phones.  Matt said, “With BYOD in full swing, we have broad support, and this now has to include form factors or screen sizes of devices.”

Matt emphasized that with Android’s world market share now at 80% in a BYOD world, you just cannot ignore this operating system.  Oracle wants to be the mobile leader, therefore they have to offer world-class Android and iOS apps, no exceptions!  So expect more cool features and innovations to follow for both Android and iOS.

To listen to the entire podcast, click here.
To learn more about Oracle’s BI Mobile Android Release, click here.

Wednesday Jan 15, 2014

Create Analytical Mobile Apps in Minutes With no Coding!

Just imagine -- being able to create analytical mobile apps in minutes without coding. Think of the efficiency. Think of the effectiveness. Think of the FUN!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kan Nishida, Director of Product Development for the Oracle BI Mobile App Designer Product during a podcast about the challenge of today’s “Continuous Work” lifestyle in the post-PC era. We discussed how organizations can not only adapt, but also transform, to empower their employees by delivering and sharing enterprise information anywhere, anytime, and using any device securely.

One of the issues facing our increasingly mobile workforce is the need to use multiple devices with a single application to take care of business. Kan and I talked about a new product offering from Oracle Business Intelligence, called Oracle BI Mobile App Designer, which enables business users to easily create interactive, analytical mobile apps and share them with any mobile device.

Kan told our listeners that one of the biggest reasons for creating this product was to enable business users, who do not have access to a group of excellent engineers to create apps for them, to create apps for themselves – for any device or screen size. BI Mobile App Designer is a browser –based application that uses drag and drop technology to create mobile apps.

With the emerging Bring-Your-Own-Device trend, organizations are having to support multiple mobile platforms like Apple’s iOS, Android, and Windows, because employees are using all of these platforms to complete their work. And of course, we can’t forget about PCs like Windows and Mac. A majority of people in Enterprise organizations still use PCs to access information and, according to Kan, will likely continue do so.

So, as it turns out, this mobile transformation thing is not about the transition from PC to Mobile, but to a “Continuous Work” lifestyle for business. For example, when you get up in the morning, you might be to check email on your iPhone, browse news on your iPad while having breakfast, check email again in the office - but this time on your PC. At the office, you might want to attend a meeting with an iPad, and check your iPhone while waiting for your co-workers to arrive. So, basically, we want and expect to access information anytime, anywhere, and with any device or screen.

Next we talked about why multiple devices and screen sizes are a challenge. Kan told our listeners that apps or reports need to be optimized to touch-based interaction and be responsive to any device and screen size so that your audience can open them from any mobile device as well as PCs. An app on an iPad requires much less pinching and squeezing because there is more physical space for display, and buttons and data entry fields are big enough to touch and enter data. A phone has less screen real estate, so you need to optimize the small space to make the experience working on it easy and comfortable. It’s also really important to deliver the app with a single and universal URL. This way, you don’t need to worry about which device or platform your audience might using or opening a report from. They can access the same information while it’s presented in the best optimized way, according to their device type and screen size. And this is exactly what Oracle BI Mobile App Designer does.



Kan also told us that customers who already have Oracle BI can take advantage of BI Mobile App Designer.
They simply need to ensure they have upgraded to the latest version of Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition, then install Oracle BI Mobile App Designer on top of it. It’s very simple and quick. Then you can start creating awesome apps right away.

If you would like to try out BI Mobile App Designer, Oracle has just released a “Trial Edition” -- a light version of the product that is meant for product evaluation purposes. You can download it from the Oracle Technical Network page in minutes, double click an installer, follow a few steps, and -- BAM – you now have it up and running. You can start creating mobile apps with Excel data, or sample data that comes with it. There are both Windows and Mac versions - and it’s free!

So, you really can create analytical mobile apps in minutes – with no coding!

To listen to the entire podcast, click here.

To learn more about BI Mobile App Designer, click here.

To download the Trial Edition of the Mobile App Designer, click here.

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