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BI Mobility with SharePoint and Mobile Entrée

It is almost impossible to have a conversation about Business Intelligence these days without talking about mobility. Mobile internet and data consumption is growing rapidly and it doesn’t look like that is going to change any time soon. There are many mobility options to choose from but not all of them work on all mobile devices. Some require heavy custom application development so many companies are investing heavily in buying their work forces smart phones or tablets so that all users can connect to their corporate data and dashboards using the same devices.

That led me to start thinking, are there any other better options? Does it really have to be this hard? There has to be an easier way to do this…

Then I came across Mobile Entrée. Mobile Entrée is a slick, easy to install, mobile option for organizations that allow decision makers to access data from anywhere, from any mobile device, in a secure way. This is because Mobile Entrée is built on technologies that many companies are already familiar with, SharePoint and Excel. Mobile Entrée can be installed, managed, secured, and scaled all within SharePoint. Since it is developed in Visual Studio and is packaged and deployed as a SharePoint feature, it can inherit security from a SharePoint site.

Not only that, a big differentiator for Mobile Entrée is that it is a browser based solution. This is what allows Mobile Entrée to run on all major smart phones and tablets. There is no need for a separate application on the phone, although there is a development API which developers can use to enhance the already long list of great features.

Since Mobile Entrée works out of the box with most out of the box SharePoint functionality, Mobile Entrée allows for a laundry list of great SharePoint integration:

  1. Themes can be applied to control the look and feel using CSS, XSLT, and JavaScript…similar to how master pages are used on a SharePoint site.
  2. Users have read and write access to SharePoint lists
  3. Users can consume data from SharePoint KPI lists
  4. Users can manage documents, including the ability to check in and check out documents
  5. Users can leverage SharePoint workflows, for example, allowing users to approve items while on the go
  6. Users can use view colleagues, news feeds, note boards, and other My Site functionality
  7. Users can search the SharePoint site using defined scopes

With all that said, I was most impressed with how Mobile Entrée allows users to use data from Excel. Mobile Entrée provides an add-in that allows for the ability to configure cell ranges and items that can be consumed by smart phones. If you have used Excel Services before, I would compare the simple setup to how cell ranges and items are defined for an Excel Services report. The add-in provides a “Mobile View Configuration” section on the Excel “Insert” tab (both Excel 2007 and Excel 2010). This allows users to create a PivotTables and Charts within Excel as they normally would, then perform a few very simple configuration steps to make uploaded Excel documents available for consumption through smart phones and tables. Users can then interact with the PivotTables and Charts to consume live data! In fact, users can even use the PivotTable filters to filter the data displayed on the tables and charts. In the newer release of Mobile Entrée 2.1 filter selections are shown on dashboards to make the displayed data easier to understand. Due to the great design of Mobile Entrée, the consumption of PowerPivot dashboards and content is possible as well!

All in all, Mobile Entrée seems to have a large upside. From all the research on mobile solutions I have done along with all the documentation and blogs that I have read, it is hard to find much wrong with the easy setup and rich functionality of Mobile Entrée. I am already in the process of developing some more blogs which will show all of the great Mobile Entrée functionality discussed in this blog in much more detail.

Sources:

Mobile Entrée Website

Mobile Entrée Educational Site

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