I have writtten about JackBe several times over the past few years and watched their evolution from a mashup provider to using their technology to support a new wave of business intelligence (see for example, JackBe’s Presto provides Real-Time Intelligence with a Focus on the Business User). What originally started as an enterprise mashup platform has now evolved into a real-time business intelligence platform that connects directly to live data sources and delivers information through Enterprise Apps and Dashboards as needed by business users. I recently spoke with Chris Warner, VP of Marketing and John Crupi, their CTO, about their latest release of Presto which focused on smartphone and tablet users.
Chris talked about the rise of mobile in general and with business intelligence in particular. One analyst puts the current use of mobile for business intelligence at 8% of total use. Gartner now claims that by 2014 a third of business intelligence will be accessed through mobile devices. If they are including tablets in with mobile I can see this happening. Chris said that this increased use can take two forms. It can be a new channel for current users and an opportunity to reach new users with new apps. He hopes that the latter occurs, as it is a great opportunity.
Chris gave me an example. A data center operation manager, who supports several centers and is constantly on the go, needs to be able to monitor what is happening at these centers without having to log into a desktop or even lap top computer. They need a mobile tablet to get alerts, check on performance levels and respond to calls for support. They need a mobile operations dashboard. There are many people who do have operational responsibilities who fall into this category of need.
GE Aviation is one of JackBe’s clients using Presto for data center monitoring. GE Aviation has been working with Presto over the past year and half and has been very successful. They attribute some of this success to being able to develop Apps at a much more rapid rate than with previous technology solutions. For example, “A request came in from senior management asking for an additional App to be developed after the majority of the solution was implemented, ‘the project sponsor was able to send a last minute requirement to their developer and the was App built and deployed in less than 24 hours’ Normally, this would have taken them several weeks due to all the politics and policies GE has in place for their BI environment.
Chris predicts that operational dashboards, in general, will be one of the killer business apps for tablet. Other examples include agencies within the US Dept of Defense that use Presto for situational awareness, Smartronix uses it for budget performance management within its government clients, and Qualcomm looks at real-time program management KPIs. This all makes sense to me. Here is a sample dashboard on an iPad.
Chris went on to say that business intelligence is under going a renaissance and taking new forms. I would agree and it is the new forms that are driving the resurgence. First there is big data as the volume of content expands. Part of this growth is driven by user-generated content through social media. There is also an increase in the quality of analytics and focus on predictive measures.
Looking at social media there is some structure present through metadata. For example, Twitter has hash tags and location. You can look at volumes and tagging to see where spikes occur around topics. This and other sources now allow for real-time intelligence so business users can get information while it is still relevant to their decisions.
So support this new wave of business intelligence software needs new capabilities. Chris outlined three components of these requirements. First there are live connections, second, self-service assembly, and third pervasive apps. You need to get information immediately from multiple sources. Users are increasingly expecting self-service in all that they do and finally, you need to be able to publish and use apps anywhere. This latter requirement is where mobile comes in.
Chris and John showed me some components of Presto that address these issues. One of the features that I especially liked is the ability to preview what an app looks like in desktop mode, smart phone portrait and landscape views and tablet portrait and landscape views. You can see a close up of screen that shows these options below.
Mobile users are starting out expecting self–service. Most of them go out and get their own devices and do not wait for their firm to supply them. These same people are not going to want to wait for IT to set up their business intelligence apps. I think that Jackbe is making some wise moves to not only go into mobile in a significant way, but also to enable self-service for users as part of this offering.