Roambi, a supplier of mobile analytics and visualization software, announced the release of a cloud-based version of its product, which allows the company to move beyond the on-premises approach where it is established and into the hands of more business users. Roambi Business enables users to automate data import, create models and refresh data on demand. Furthermore, the company announced a North America Partner Program along with the cloud release. This will encourage ISVs and solution partners to develop for the new product. The move to the cloud is a big one for the company, giving access to a new market in which companies need to deliver business intelligence (BI) to their increasingly mobile workforces.
The challenge of mobility and operating across smartphones and tablets is coming to the forefront of the BI industry, as indicated by our business technology innovation benchmark research, in which mobile technology is ranked as the second-most important innovation (by 15%) in a virtual tie with collaboration; analytics is the only higher ranked innovation (at 39%). With tablet sales likely to surpass PC sales in just a couple of years, the trend toward mobile devices will continue to gather momentum, and vendors of BI applications will need to provide them for these platforms. One way companies and vendors alike are addressing this challenge is to move applications to the cloud.
Roambi was one of the first to embrace industry trends in data visualization and mobile BI, but until now it focused on larger corporations and intersecting to business and on-premises approaches to BI. The company has been successful with deployments in 10 of the Fortune 50 and in eight of the 10 largest pharmaceutical companies. This presence in industries such as pharmaceuticals makes sense in that many of the early uses of mobile BI has been in retail and sales specifically.
Roambi first caught our attention for having a user-friendly approach to BI that helps mobile workers improve productivity by accessing various forms of information through a handheld device. In particular, Microsoft Excel and BI applications can be ported onto mobile devices in the form of report visualizations and flipped through using the native swipe gestures on Apple iOS devices. The broad access of a cloud platform extends the firm’s focus on usability, which our benchmark research into next-generation BI finds to be the top evaluation criteria for 64 percent of potential customers. My colleague Mark Smith has written more on the user-focused nature of Roambi’s products.
For the cloud version of the software, Roambi has redesigned the entire publishing engine to be HTML5-compliant but still iOS-oriented in that it takes advantage of native iOS gestures. The redesign of the publishing tool set extends to Roambi Flow, an application that enables power users to assemble and group information for presentations, publications or applications. (An example of such output is a briefing book or a digital publication.) This feature is particularly important since a specific data-driven storyline distributed to a group of users often is needed to produce a decision. Currently, the cumbersome cut-and-paste process revolves around data and content produced in Excel and Word and put into PowerPoint for ultimate dissemination through an organization.
A couple of features are not yet available on the cloud addition. Push notifications are important, and with the new architecture I expect to see that soon. According to our next generation business intelligence benchmark research on mobile BI, alerts and notifications is the most important ranked feature (important to 42% of organizations), which should be a big part of mobile BI. While some interactivity is not available in the first release of the cloud edition with visualization, the flow of reviewing data is simple and easy to examine metrics.
Roambi will face strong competition from other BI vendors aggressively improving their own mobile BI offerings. Vendors of visual discovery software, of traditional BI and of integrated stacks each have a unique position that takes advantage of features like data mashup and broad integration capabilities. The battle for this market will be won only over time, but Roambi has a unique position of its own in terms of ease of use and time-to-value. In fact, the company’s strategic focus on design and the user experience is coinciding with current business discussions and top priorities in the buying trends in the market.
Roambi’s flagship product now in the cloud, technology that was mostly configurable by teams in larger companies’ is available to anyone easily including ISVs. Furthermore, cloud computing approach allows easier access for the business and requires less technical resources and reduces the potential financial impact. For companies looking to deploy business intelligence and analytics quickly to mobile devices while providing ease of use and the ability to communicate not only graphically but with a storyline approach, Roambi is worth a look to see how simple business intelligence can be on mobile technology.