Mobility Eclipsing Real-Time Access

Business Objects' latest InfoView delivers interface improvements, drill-down capabilities.

With clunky interfaces and slow wireless network speeds tossing cold water on the hype for wireless business intelligence applications, Business Objects SA has focused enhancements in its latest InfoView product on mobility, not real-time connectivity.

InfoView Mobile 4.0, which debuted last week, extends support for viewing reports generated by Business Objects WebIntelligence analysis server to PDAs (personal digital assistants) rather than just WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) phones.

Version 4.0 (the first three versions were called InfoView Wireless) focuses on interface improvements and drill-down capabilities at the expense of wireless connectivity— although that is still supported.

InfoView Mobile 4.0 supports Microsoft Corp.s Pocket Internet Explorer HTML browser, HandSpring Inc.s Blazer HTML browser and Pocket PC devices. It requires that Business Objects WebIntelligence server be installed.

Butler Technology Solutions, a business intelligence consulting company based in Montvale, N.J., is upgrading to 4.0, which it will use with Compaq Computer Corp. iPaqs and the AvantGo Inc. wireless network.

"You plug it in and get the data, then you can slice and dice it offline," said Wendy King, a Washington-based director of the companys e-business intelligence practice. "The wireless product made it easy to just get short, quick hits; now you have the ability to get so much more utilization of the data with the iPaq."

King said she expects she wont need to use her laptop as much when shes traveling, once her company is up and running on InfoView Mobile 4.0 by months end, which, she said, will be "incredibly timesaving."

Butler employees will use InfoView Mobile 4.0 for analysis of customer and project information as well as internal uses such as employee assignments and billable hours. Butler is a business partner of Business Objects, of San Jose, Calif., and works on implementations of the software for its clients.

Disconnected use of business intelligence tools over wireless devices is becoming more important to users than so-called real-time wireless access, said Patricia Seybold Group Inc. analyst Peter OKelly, in Boston.

"Last year, there was a lot of speculation overall that WAP phones were a big deal and would take off. The hype was overwhelming," OKelly said. "Since then, theres been a lot of disappointment. Its grown, but it hasnt met expectations. People are instead finding greater utility in handheld devices that support applications rich enough to get a good display and interface. WAP phones are more of an alerting model."

InfoView Mobile 4.0 pricing starts at $60,000 per server.