As Published In
Oracle Magazine
March/April 2012

TECHNOLOGY: Business Intelligence

  

On the Road with BI

By Mark Rittman Oracle ACE Director

 

Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile gives your iOS device the business.

In addition to accessing dashboards, analyses, and scorecards through Web browsers on laptop and desktop computers, many users of Oracle Business Intelligence solutions now want to access their BI content on the go—on smartphones and tablet devices. Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile, part of Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite, provides the ability to deliver analyses, dashboards, alerts, and other BI content directly to mobile devices, enabling users to view and then take action on BI insights wherever they are.

Built on Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition 11g Release 1 (11.1.1.5), Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile delivers BI content to mobile devices such as the Apple iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Oracle Business Intelligence analyses and dashboards do not have to be specifically formatted for mobile use, and no additional setup is required for your server installation before users can start accessing their data on the move. In this article, I show how you can configure your iPad and iPhone to access mobile BI content, and I access data and analysis from the Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition 11g sample application (deployed via Oracle VM VirtualBox), available for download on Oracle Technology Network.

Configuring Your Mobile Device

Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile is currently available for mobile devices running Apple iOS, such as the Apple iPad and iPhone. To access BI information through your iOS mobile device, first download the Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile app from the Apple App Store to your iOS device and install it, and then create the connection to your organization’s Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition 11g sample application installation or the product’s sample application deployed via Oracle VM VirtualBox.

You do not need to specially configure your BI installation to enable mobile access, but you must ensure that Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services is accessible to your mobile device (typically via http://[server_name]:9704/analytics or http://[server_name]). If your BI installation is behind a firewall, you can configure your iOS device to connect first, using a virtual private network, to your company network.

To create a connection with Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile on an iPad, follow these steps: 

  1. Start the Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile app, and if it is the first time you are using it, tap Accept to accept the end user license agreement.

  2. The app then displays the list of available Oracle Business Intelligence servers. The first time you use the app, tap + (next to Add Server) to add your server to the list.

  3. In the Server Settings dialog box, enter the following details:
    Name: The name, such as SampleApp, that you will assign to this server.
    Host: The hostname or IP address, such as 192.168.1.30, for the server.
    Port: The port number for the server. This should typically be set to 7001 or 9704 if you have not enabled Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or to 443 if you have enabled SSL. If you are using the Oracle VM VirtualBox sample application image mentioned earlier, the port number will be 7001.
    SSL: The default setting is ON. Change the setting to OFF if your server does not have SSL enabled.
    SSO: The default setting is OFF. Change the setting to ON if your server has single sign-on (SSO) enabled.
    Username: Your username, such as asmith, on the server.
    Password: Your password, such as welcome1, on the server.
    Save Password: The default setting is ON. The ON setting means that your password will be saved on your iOS device. Select OFF if you are working on a shared mobile device or you want to enter a password each time you connect to the server.
    Device Locale: The default setting is ON. The ON setting means that the mobile device’s locale settings will be passed to the Oracle Business Intelligence server. Select OFF if you want to use the default locale for your login credentials.
    Analytics Path: Accept the default value: /analytics/saw.dll.
    Publisher Path: Accept the default value: /xmlpserver. 

When you’ve entered the server setting information, tap Save to save your details, and then when you return to the list-of-servers screen, tap Login to use these details to connect. The first time you connect to the business intelligence server, a small set of files will be downloaded to your mobile device, and you can then start analyzing your BI content from your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.

Analyze with Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile and the iPad

Now that you have created your connection to an Oracle Business Intelligence server, you can start to analyze your data. In this example, you are using your iPad first thing in the morning, while drinking a cup of coffee, to update yourself on how your organization is performing. To start, view your Favorites list—which shows, among other BI content, your Brand Analysis dashboard—shown in Figure 1.

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Figure 1: Viewing the Favorites list

You can add a screen to the Favorites list by tapping Favorites at the bottom of any Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile screen. For now, though, select Brand Analysis from the Favorites list to view a dashboard of brand performance in the form of a pivot table, several graphs, a ticker, and some prompts and controls on the left-hand side of the screen. To switch to another page in this dashboard, tap the down arrow at the top of the page, as shown in Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Viewing a dashboard with Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile

Just as you can with dashboards on your laptop or desktop, you can interact with pivot tables, prompts, and other objects on the iPad screen to further explore your data. For example, you can tap Email at the bottom of the screen to send a link to that page to someone, and you can tap Refresh at any time to update your view of the data, live. (Note that Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile requires a connection with your Oracle Business Intelligence server, through either Wi-Fi or a cellular network.)

You can also expose key performance indicators (KPIs) through Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile to keep up to date with performance measures for your organization, and you can use Alerts on your Favorites list, shown in Figure 3, to receive messages sent from the Oracle Business Intelligence server, such as when revenue is likely to fall short for a quarter or metrics for a store are out of tolerance. To define alerts such as these, create agents (which run analyses in the background) with the Oracle Business Intelligence dashboard to determine whether an alert condition is met; when this happens, the alert will appear in the list of alerts on your mobile device so that you can respond appropriately.

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Figure 3: Viewing a list of alerts

Next Steps


 READ more about Oracle Business
Intelligence Mobile

 

 READ more Rittman
 

DOWNLOAD  the Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition 11g Release 1 (11.1.1.5) sample application
 Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile
 

 WATCH the Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile demo

All of these alerts, analyses, and dashboards are the same BI objects that are defined on the Oracle Business Intelligence server, ensuring that you are kept up to date with your company performance wherever you access your data.

You’ve finished your coffee and you have today’s updates on how your organization is performing. With the most current analyses in hand, you’re ready to take action.

Business Intelligence in Your Pocket with the iPhone

Although tablet computers such as the iPad are great for analyzing data on a relatively large screen, you might want to consult your company data while on the move and with only a smartphone in your pocket. Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile is also available for the iPhone and iPod touch and is downloaded, installed, and configured in the same way as on the iPad.

With Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile installed and configured on your iPhone or iPod touch, you can access dashboards in the same way as with the iPad. Given the smaller screen, however, you might want to take advantage of the mobile layout—available on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad—which, instead of displaying all content in the desktop layout, rearranges the content in a vertical, stacked layout and resizes graphs to make them fit the screen better, as shown in Figure 4.

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Figure 4: Content formatted with a mobile layout on the iPhone

Tap Menu in the top left corner of the screen to bring up the View menu, and then select either Mobile Layout or Original Layout to switch between the two layout modes on your iOS device.

So How Does Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile Work?

Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile is a “hybrid” iOS application that uses native controls with server-side rendering to deliver BI content to your mobile device. To reduce network load, it caches content and strips out unneeded JavaScript code, and Oracle Business Intelligence Presentation Services renders graphs in an image format that can be displayed by iOS devices. Prompts and sliders are converted to native controls, and map views are simplified to display better on mobile devices. As a BI content developer, though, you do not need to do anything special to make your content available to mobile users, and as an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch user, all you need are the details for connecting to your Oracle Business Intelligence server.

Conclusion

With Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile, you can access your BI content on the road, in a café, or wherever else you may be when you need that information—fast. All content on your BI server is available to you, and you can access content such as KPIs, alerts, published reports, and performance dashboards from your mobile device. To try out Oracle Business Intelligence Mobile now, download the app from the Apple App Store, install the Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition 11g Release 1 (11.1.1.5) sample application—which contains several mobile-focused dashboards, alerts, and analyses—on the server you will connect to, and access your business intelligence on the go! 


Mark Rittman Headshot


Mark Rittman
is an Oracle ACE Director, technical director at Rittman Mead, and an executive board member of the Oracle Development Tools User Group. He for the Rittman Mead blog at rittmanmead.com.

 



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