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Some observers see a split coming in the mobile BI market where smartphone users will simply want operational information, such as reports, invoices and shipping schedules, delivered to their mobile device.
"When you look at what people want, they want information. They don't think of it as business intelligence," said Freivald. "Some of our best customers on mobile devices won't realize they are using a BI application."
But the betting is that users of tablet devices such as the Apple iPad will want true business intelligence capabilities and deep analytics, including the ability to submit database queries and drill down into reports.
All this is creating opportunities for solution providers, systems integrators and ISVs.
QlikTech has a network of more than 1,000 channel partners and the growth of mobile business intelligence is creating more opportunities for them, Boehm said. "It makes it easier for partners to go out and resolve a greater range of business problems."
One such partner is Axis Group, a Berkeley Heights, N.J.-based solution provider that has partnered with QlikTech for four years and offers the QlikView software as part of its Compass software line. The Compass software for banking, for example, includes a mobile BI component for the Apple iPad.
Mobile business intelligence sales and services already account for between 10 and 20 percent of the company's revenue, said Principal Ranjan Sinha, and it comes up in about half of all conversations with prospective customers.
"There's a lot of services involved," said Becerra at MeLLmo, which works with Capgemini, Accenture, and Computer Generated Solutions, systems integrators with BI expertise who develop and manage reports for Roambi users.
De Vera sees Arcplan's channel partners playing a role in resolving the security question, such as by setting up secure virtual private networks for mobile BI users, devising encryption strategies, and establishing data access privileges for employees. "These are where we need our channel partners to work with us, and work with our customers and our prospective customers," de Vera said.
Capgemini offers its OnePath service that let's mobile device users access corporate information and applications – including SAP's Business Suite applications and BusinessObjects business intelligence tools. The systems integrator has been developing industry-specific analytical applications for customers' mobile devices, an opportunity Norwood expects to accelerate with new releases of SAP's Sybase Unwired Platform for building mobile applications.
Many mobile BI apps will be either industry-specific or for business roles such as human resource management, says IBI's Freivald. ISV partners will help develop those applications and solution providers will provide services around them. Partners, he said, "are a huge piece of the puzzle."
"This is where the ecosystem, our partners, will come in," said Spier, predicting that solution providers will develop "purpose-built apps" for specific employee roles and lines-of-business around the SAP BusinessObjects Mobile (a mobile version of the vendor's Web Intelligence) and SAP BusinessObjects Explorer software. The company already offers business intelligence applications developed by SAP partners through its online Ecohub site.
"I think it's an advantage for us to have the knowledge and the capabilities," said Sinha at Axis, referring to the company's mobile BI expertise. "It's a differentiator for us."
But he forsees a time not far off when such expertise will be a requirement for solution providers. "Mobile is part of the conversation," he said. "You just have to be there."