Enabling a Mobile Workforce with IBM Cognos Solutions


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Mobile workers need business intelligence (BI) data to be available on their smart phones, notebook computers and tablets wherever they are so that they can make information-driven decisions—even when they’re not connected to the web or their company’s network. IBM® Cognos® solutions for the mobile workforce enable business users to gain the same trusted insight whether they are in the office or on the road.

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Enabling a Mobile Workforce with IBM Cognos Solutions

  1. 1. IBM Software Business Analytics Cognos Business Intelligence Enabling a mobile workforce with IBM Cognos solutions Executive summary Highlights • Enable users to interact with, analyze and share IBM Cognos Business Intelligence content wherever they are • Provide users with a rich and visual experience whether offline or online for uninterrupted productivity • Keep up with the demands of users on varied devices with a single administrative environment and the ability to reuse BI content Mobile workers need business intelligence (BI) data to be available on their smart phones, notebook computers and tablets wherever they are so that they can make information-driven decisions—even when they’re not connected to the web or their company’s network. IBM® Cognos® solutions for the mobile workforce enable business users to gain the same trusted insight whether they are in the office or on the road. Traditionally, IT relied on Microsoft Excel, PDF, HTML or custom applications to deliver critical BI content to these devices. But these modes are limited, are harder to update with new data and provide a frustrating user experience—or none at all when out of network range. Custom applications become almost prohibitively expensive as application developers try to keep up with the rapid-fire pace of mobile device releases. In 2007, IBM did away with these limitations with the introduction of IBM Cognos Mobile, which has recently been enhanced to provide a rich user experience on tablet computers and on even more smart phones. This is in response to studies that show that Apple iPad is the preferred platform for mobile business intelligence, surpassing BlackBerry smart phones early in 2011.1 IBM has also developed IBM Cognos Active Report, which makes it possible to interact with BI content on your Apple iPad even when you are not connected to the Internet or your network. This brief describes how Cognos software addresses the challenges of the mobile workforce by providing BI to the growing community of mobile users.
  2. 2. IBM Software Business Analytics Cognos Business Intelligence The shifting mobile landscape Users want to be assured of the security of critical, often sensitive, BI on their devices and to know that if that device is lost or stolen, the information will not fall in the wrong hands. They also want to be sure that they are all able to see the same report in the same format—no matter what device is being used or whether they are connected to or disconnected from a network or the Internet. IT is being pressured to deliver a secure, seamless transition between formats and offline connectivity. The mobile landscape has changed. There are more mobile people in the world and in your company than ever before. Whether it is an executive traveling all over the world, a sales representative who is only in the office occasionally or a middle manager who needs to access information in a meeting down the hall, all need secure and reliable information at their fingertips. With this changing landscape has come a fundamental shift in organizations today. Business users are bringing their own personal devices, including tablet computers, into the office for business purposes. So, naturally they want to use business applications on them, and they also want them to run as quickly and as smoothly as their personal and consumer applications. Even though many no longer travel with notebook computers, they still want access to the same trusted information when they are away from the office. IT itself wants to be able to support the process of authoring a report once and distributing it to multiple devices rather than having multiple report authors creating it for each platform. They are also feeling the pressure from executives for these reports to be highly visual and interactive. Cognos solutions for the mobile workforce can help address these challenges. Several analyst reports support this shift. According to Gartner, 33 percent of all BI is being assimilated on mobile devices.2 Also, a Howard Dresner study asked respondents to indicate the importance of mobile BI to their organizations and found that it remains largely unchanged from six months ago.3 That this level of interest has been sustained as organizations have deployed mobile BI to users is both significant and encouraging. Introducing Cognos solutions for the mobile workforce The increased need and desire to access and interact with BI on mobile devices profoundly affects IT. IT is used to operating as the technology expert, doing the research and deploying the technology that best fits their environment. However, the mobile agenda is being driven by the user community. This has created a number of challenges for IT. Many in IT are wondering how to support these devices while addressing other issues related to mobile BI: security, report format, connection and authoring for different platforms. The ability to use existing BI content and a single authoring and administrative environment helps IT keep up with the demands of users on varied devices. The flexible and proven platform ensures mobile decision-making is simple, reliable and secure. These features and more provide security, uninterrupted productivity and a rich and highly interactive experience to users on any device. With Cognos Mobile and Cognos Active Report software, the mobile workforce can interact with information like never before and receive insight relevant to them wherever they are. Users work with trusted BI content in a rich and visual experience whether offline or online for uninterrupted productivity. 2
  3. 3. IBM Software Business Analytics Cognos Business Intelligence Single authoring and administrative environments Security With Cognos solutions for a mobile workforce, IT is provided with a single authoring environment for creating reports and dashboards that can be used and reused in a number of ways, including on mobile devices. IT can capitalize on authoring skill sets and eliminate duplicate efforts. BI report authors write a report in one environment and know that every user can access it, regardless of language, locale or format (web, search, mobile, desktop productivity suite and more). No separate mobile authoring environment is needed. This gives users access to all BI content, instead of static renditions authored specifically for mobile devices. IBM has gone to significant lengths to ensure the security of Cognos Mobile operating on smart phones and tablet devices. Cognos Mobile security is derived from a combination of sources: IBM, your device operating system and your IT department. Mobile workforce example: Using Cognos Mobile on tablets Sales representatives for a pharmaceutical company are losing time waiting for information or for someone to provide research results. After the vice president of sales decides that the account executives will only use tablet computers to access their productivity tools, including access to BI, the company deploys Cognos Mobile. The single Cognos administration environment enables IT to use the same Cognos Business Intelligence platform capabilities for mobile devices that you use for the desktop. This means that administrators do not have extra administrative overhead for mobile deployments. IT uses Cognos Business Intelligence to maintain centralized control, while meeting specific user needs with administration capabilities such as scheduling and bursting for mobile devices or for Cognos Active Report, which is available for the Apple iPad. IT can ensure mobile workers receive the latest and most relevant BI content because they can send out reports to specified sets of users on a scheduled basis. The account executives see a marked improvement in their productivity. Cognos Mobile for the Apple iPad provides the most current territory information at their fingertips and quick and easy access to analytics. In addition, no matter how users access Cognos Mobile— from a native application or the web—your underlying security base will be the Cognos platform. The Cognos platform provides integration with enterprise authentication and a central place to control access and authorization for all Cognos Business Intelligence objects, capabilities and data. Broad device support and mobile deployment options ensure that mobile workers can access BI on Apple iPad and iPhones, BlackBerry smart phones and PlayBook, Android tablets and smart phones. That way, your organization can support mobile strategies that are specific to the needs of your users. 3
  4. 4. IBM Software Business Analytics Cognos Business Intelligence This integration simplifies the login process and restricts access to data according to business requirements. Users can have BI content automatically sent to their device, or can choose to connect securely to the Cognos server to access the information they need to make smarter decisions. For analysis on the go, there are prompts for drilling up, down and through, so they can “take the pulse of” business while on the road and make timely and accurate decisions based on the most up-to-date information. In addition, for BlackBerry smart phone users, “location-aware” intelligence enables them to receive reports that are dynamically filtered with locationspecific information, so that their analysis and decisionmaking is relevant to where they are. For native applications, a device lease key prevents access to disconnected Cognos content when a timeout period elapses. A good analogy of the lease key functionality is the concept of a hotel key. The key is enabled for the duration (lease) of your stay. Then, at the checkout time on the last day of your stay, your key is disabled (your lease has expired) and you are unable to access the room. The room is still there, but you will not be able to gain access until you make appropriate arrangements. Rich, visual and interactive experience—online or off Users all want the same experience in the work world that they have in the consumer world in terms of interactivity and consistency. Cognos solutions for a mobile workforce provide them with the same experience they get from consumer applications while taking advantage of device-specific gestures and collaborative exchange. Cognos Mobile takes advantage of the all the native functionality of their tablets and smart phones. In addition, they can customize their BI experience by adding individual reports or dashboards to a Favorites list or Welcome screen so they can get their most important information fast. In the case of Cognos Mobile, upon expiration of the lease key, content is not accessible until the user authenticates and a new key is granted. This ensures that disconnected content is inaccessible without wiping the entire device.4 Uninterrupted productivity Cognos solutions for a mobile workforce make it possible to ensure that worker productivity is not interrupted, no matter where they are or how they are accessing their BI content. Instead, they have access to the same broad business analytics content that spans the spectrum of time and all supported data sources whether they are in the office, on a laptop, using a tablet or working on a smart phone. If users have Apple iPads, they can use touch screens and the familiar Apple interface to navigate through BI content. With the collaborative exchange feature of Cognos Mobile for the Apple iPad, users can share their perspectives with others by highlighting an area for discussion and then sending an email with comments, insights and actions to the appropriate people. By making it easy to communicate information regardless of where they are, Cognos Mobile for the Apple iPad helps users take timely action—no more trips back to the office or waiting for a call to get the reports they need to make important decisions. Mobile workforce example: Keeping a pulse on the business The CFO of a financial services company needs daily updates on unsecured lending, mortgages, liabilities, campaigns and other activities related to her industry. Accessing static information from PDF, Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint files is not helping her keep up with her business in real time. Implementing Cognos Mobile for the Apple iPad, she is able to receive fully interactive dashboards related to the health of the business and contact people for explanations, to collaborate on next steps or enact improvements. 4
  5. 5. IBM Software Business Analytics Cognos Business Intelligence About IBM Business Analytics If users have a BlackBerry smart phone or PlayBook, they can easily navigate through the same content using trackballs or touch screens. Cognos Mobile also extends BI content to tablets that use the Google Android operating system so their users have the same kind of rich, interactive experience that users of other mobile operating systems enjoy. Much of this is accomplished by the users themselves, so IT does not have to be involved with the setup and deployment of customized features. IBM Business Analytics software delivers actionable insights decision-makers need to achieve better business performance. IBM offers a comprehensive, unified portfolio of business intelligence, predictive and advanced analytics, financial performance and strategy management, governance, risk and compliance and analytic applications. With IBM software, companies can spot trends, patterns and anomalies, compare “what if” scenarios, predict potential threats and opportunities, identify and manage key business risks and plan, budget and forecast resources. With these deep analytic capabilities, our customers around the world can better understand, anticipate and shape business outcomes. Conclusion Cognos solutions for the mobile workforce were designed for users who need to interact with, analyze and share Cognos Business Intelligence content wherever they are. Whether they are on the road or at the office, they get the same great insight. With these solutions, IT can take advantage of authoring skill sets and eliminate duplicate efforts to support the mobile workforce, ensuring that the right information gets to the right people on the go and that corporate information on the device is secure. For more information For further information or to reach a representative please visit ibm.com/analytics. Request a call To request a call or to ask a question, go to ibm.com/ business-analytics/contactus. An IBM representative will respond to your inquiry within two business days. 5