iPad, iPhone BI App for SAS, MeLLmo: Probably First of Many

Apple's iPad and iPhone are increasingly popular among workers who want to filter business intelligence through those devices, leading to the creation of new solutions.

Most purchasers of Apple's iPad and iPad 2 probably intend to use the tablet as a consumption device, an ideal way for watching movies or cruising the Web. That being said, with more and more Apple products finding their way into the enterprise (largely through executives and other workers insisting that IT integrate their personal devices into the network), the pressure is rising for solutions that allow mobile devices to better leverage businesses' software and analysis.

To that end, SAS and MeLLmo have partnered to integrate the latter's Roambi ES3 mobile solution with SAS Enterprise BI Server, which in turn will allow the porting of SAS business intelligence data onto the iPhone and iPad. The two companies are working to have the solution released to the ecosystem by early April.

"Our research found that employees in top performing organizations - the best-in-class - were more than twice as likely as others to be able to find needed information using mobile business intelligence," David White, an analyst with the Aberdeen Group, wrote in a March 8 statement accompanying the SAS-MeLLmo announcement.

"One of the reasons for this higher level of performance," White added, "is that they are more likely to have a richer presentation of information that they can interact with. For example, the best-in-class are more likely to use charts and dashboards, and three times more likely to have the ability to drill down to access detailed information."

In that mode, the Roambi mobile assets will apparently convert SAS business-intelligence reports and data into a dashboard format more optimized for the iPhone and iPad's touch-screens.

Whether or not you agree with the assertion that "best in class" organizations have already embraced mobile business intelligence-the sheer amount of marketing dollars targeted at that particular segment, at the moment, hints at a largely untapped market-many tech companies are working to put solutions in place that allow workers to retrieve a variety of information from remote locations.

Salesforce.com, Oracle, Microsoft and SAP have all recently begun significant pushes to buttress out their CRM and BI products with a variety of new features and functionality, including mobile, in a bid to edge out their rivals.

In addition, the rise of remote workers has increased the pressure on organizations to introduce mobile solutions that allow for interaction with a company network, even while on the road. With more employees clamoring for tablets and smartphones-and wanting their IT departments to integrate their personal devices into the network-the task of offering secure, simple remote access has become a monumental challenge for IT pros at every level.

For IT administrators, the remote-access model threatens to introduce an additional tangle of complexity, with four or five different applications or platforms needed to enact a single remote solution. Hence the companies moving into the space, including SAS and MeLLmo, that aim to offer workers powerful remote tools for BI, with hopefully the sort of streamlined implementation and maintenance that eases IT administrators' blood-pressure levels.