Carrot and stick approach eases BMO’s mobile BI adoption

More often than not organizations are bound to face some resistance towards any management initiative to automate business processes – especially if the move could create some “redundancies.”

“You’ll always get some push back based of the assumption: ‘If we automate, I’ll lose my job,” according to Steve Pedersen, vice-president of corporate payment products and acquisition integration at the Bank of Montreal (BMO).

“If you can get past that initial concern about losing a job, you can get almost anyone to want to adopt automation,” Pedersen said during his presentation at the MicroStrategy Business Intelligence Symposium at Toronto this week. The event also marked the official launched of MicroStrategy’s mobile BI app for the iPhone and iPad. Pedersen was at there to relate how BMO developed a business intelligence system powered by a mobile BI application.

For more on how the MicroStrategy mobile BI app has turned the iPad and iPhone into business tools click here.

Following a three week development period, he said, the bank has recently began using the mobile application in-house to provide its sales force quick access BI reports on their mobile devices while in the field. Pedersen said his team will also be helping many SMB clients to roll out the same mobile BI capability.

The BMO executive admitted that he has been jokingly referred to as a “dictator” for pushing mobile BI but the key to obtaining user buy-in is to deftly demonstrate how the new technology can benefit their work and then “sweeten the deal”.

Related story: How to get executive buy in for software development projects

In developing its mobile BI system, the corporate payment products and acquisition integration group made sure that key success indicators were also tied in with employee bonuses, said Pedersen.

“You have to make sure that the system shows how the reports help drive the user’s compensation so that they automatically see the connection between the report and their own bottom line,” he said.

Organizations that are able to establish this “connection” are likely to have users that are eager to view the BI reports “because they want to determine where they stand in relation to their goals,” Pedersen explained.

Pedersen also provided the following considerations for organizations planning to develop or deploy a mobile BI application:

Provide fast access – Make sure the system provides quick access to data. “Mobile users are frequently in the field and might have only 10 minutes with their client. They need to get that information in about three minutes or less,” said Pedersen.

Make it simple – The data needs to be easy to understand. Users often require mobile data to make on the spot decisions.

Make sure the data is accurate and timely – Reports need to contain accurate and pertinent data. The reports also need to be refreshed on a regular and timely basis.

Ensure the data in relevant – If the information provided by the system is not relevant to the user it will not be viewed. While developing its new mobile BI system, BMO managed to trim as much as 40 per cent off the number of reports the bank generated. “Our customers stop viewing reports if the reports are not relevant to the user group. That’s why the average life of some reports are four to six months,” said Pedersen.

Highway to mobile app implementation

One organization that is shifting into high gear with its mobile app implementation is the 407 Express Toll Route in Toronto. The toll highway is currently testing MicroStrategy’s mobile BI app.

Related story: 407 Expressway’s tech team cuts costs, saves time with server virtualization

Ravi Chander, associate architect for the 407 ETR, said the corporation has been looking into business intelligence reporting in the last few years. “Very recently we decided one of the best ways to get started is to deliver enterprising reporting to out senior managers through their mobile device.”

“Since we were rolling out the black berries we decided why not take it a step further. When Apple came out with the iPad we asked: What could be the best way to take advantage of its features to enable our managers to not only visualize but also interact with data,” he said.

Jean Bujold, 407 ETR enterprise architect, said the toll highway generates an enormous amount of data already and is looking to find ways to make use of that information.

“Each time a car pass through 407, our systems are able to collect a wide array of data from it and the road. We can detect tire pressure from each tire of the vehicle, how many occupants the vehicle has and what are the road conditions,” he said.

At present much of this information is not being used because they are not relevant to collecting highway toll. However, Bujold said, 407 wants to eventually leverage mobile BI technology to make the data available to its managers and technicians to improve operations and for 407 users for free.

“With the use of GPS technology, road inspectors who spot a pothole for instance can quickly mark that spot on the highway on their mobile device and instantly send out a work order for repairs to the exact area to our central office,” Bujold said. “We can also send out weather and road condition warnings to 407 users via their mobile devices.”

Mobile BI buzz reaches SMB market

Mobile BI is trickling down to the SMB, according to James Broadley, country manager for MicroStrategy in Canada.

“We’ve done a great job of working with the large enterprise clients such as Rogers Communications and BMO and I think the buzz is now starting to reach the mid-market and the SMB-type clients as well,” he said.

“I think the intrigue and interest is the market place is around the fact that our total cost of ownership compared to the other players in the market is so much lower,” he added.

Many SMB have just one or two IT personnel rather than a large IT department, and MicroStrategy’s easy to deploy downloadable system and free training serves  this need, he said.

Nestor Arellano is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter, read his blog, and join the IT Business Facebook Page.

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