by Matt Mullarkey-Toner
Published on 28 September 2016
Although iOS is big in the business world, over one billion people use Android daily. If you happen to be one of those Droid users, and also work in or run a small to medium-sized business, then this article is for you. Specifically, it will focus on business intelligence (BI) apps that have a companion Android app. I've based this on data from GetApp's Category Leader ranking for business intelligence operations.
As I wrote in the article on business intelligence apps for iOS, Gartner defines business intelligence as "an umbrella term that includes applications, infrastructure and tools, and best practices that enable access to and analysis of information to improve and optimize decisions and performance." Another way to look at it: business intelligence apps take data (customer info, sales figures, shipping times) and present it in a digestible manner, usually in the form of graphs and charts. Ultimately, you can take this presentation and analysis and use the information gleaned to get insight and make better business decisions.
Admittedly, the mobile versions of BI apps are generally more limited, in that they more of adaptations (with less features) rather than fully-featured carbon copies of the web app. So don't expect to get to granular with data entry, but do expect to get a detailed view of your analytics from your mobile device.
Tableau is aimed at medium-sized companies that eventually (hopefully?) will grow into a large company or enterprise. Tableau isn't just a reporting and analytics tool, it's also a handy data visualization tool. As I wrote in the BI apps for iOS article, news organizations around the world have been using Tableau as a way to tell stories about topics such as how much people get paid, IED explosions in Iraq, or invasive wasps in Australia. Although Tableau offers a free trial, it ultimately is on the pricier side for a smaller company (starting at $500/year plus extra charges per user), so take a moment to figure out what pricing plan works best for your company.
The Android version of Tableau is designed to provide a better user experience when compared to viewing data through on your mobile web browser. However, it still mostly allows you to view or manipulate the way you view data, rather than manipulate the data itself. One user, Toby Erkson, writes on the Google Play store, "Finally! Now you can get your reports on your Android device. There's definite room for improvement but at least it's headed in the right direction now."
Klipfolio is aimed at everybody: large enterprises, mid size business, non profits, public administrations, and small businesses. Aside from the various ways you can view your data through visualizations, Klipfolio also connects to many different types of applications and files. For example, it can connect to Moz or Google Analytics to pull in data, FTP and SFTP files from internal servers, and files from your computer in formats such as Excel, CSV, and XML. The coolest part is that those different data feeds can be combined into a sort of data visualization mashup. Klipfolio's pricing starts at $24 a month for up-to five users.
The mobile version of Klipfolio is mostly used to view data and dashboards in real time, but that's tremendously powerful when you factor in the data mashups Klipfolio can produce. User Scott Pagodin writes on the Google Play store, "Once again, Klipfolio advances their ability to make information easily accessible across platforms and enable users to keep a pulse on results even while on the go. Excellent!"
Zoho Reports is an analytics tool that has many standard BI features: reporting can be displayed using charts or pivot tables, dashboards are customizable, and data can be exported in formats such as TSV, XLS, and CSV. It's also got white label solutions for ISVs and OEMs. Since it's also a part of the Zoho tribe, you can expect plenty of integrations with apps like Zoho CRM or Zoho Books.
On Android, Zoho Reports offers tons of visualization options including line, bar-line, stacked bar, donut, pie, and funnel. You can separate, sort, and display the data different ways: you can organize reports based on type, folders, and related views. KPI dashboards are readily available in single page format. One of the best features about Zoho Reports is that it allows you granular control over access to the reports that allows you to give specific access to guests and colleagues.
Odds are that you use at least one Microsoft app for your business: Excel for your analytics or finances, Word for your documents, or maybe Skype for Business. Microsoft Power BI is Microsoft's answer for producing reports and dashboards. It has "59 out-of-the-box connections" for apps such as Salesforce, Facebook, Zendesk, and Quickbooks Online. Power BI is also designed with drag-and-drop controls in mind, so it's intuitive to use. Although Power BI is designed for mid-sized businesses and large enterprises, its pricing (there's a free and Pro version that starts $9.99 per user per month) could still be affordable for a very small team or company.
The Android version of Microsoft Power BI provides an easy way to access your reports, dashboards, and charts. It's also been designed to be easy to use for the lay person, which means that relative newbies can use and access the features of the app without much difficulty.
The mobile versions of Power B are interesting that they enable gesture controls, which is a nice touch. Some users have noted some problems with the app, but in fairness Microsoft seems to be reaching out and responding to many of those negative reviews.
Didja notice that these mobile apps don't do much more than display data? Would you like to have a mobile BI app that was closer to the full-featured version, or is it better to limit users with the amount of control they have over the app? Let us know in the comments below, and take a look at a comparison of the apps mentioned in this article.