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Mobile BI Become a Valuable Option

05/21/2014 by David Septoff Modernization - Analytics

On Friday, May 16, Ben Zenick, COO of Zencos was interviewed by Business Radio X, as part of the North Carolina Technology Association State of Technology event. Read what Ben had to say in his interview.

Listen to the Interview

Interview with Ben Zenick

Read the Transcript

Tell us about Zencos.

We are a BI (Business Intelligence) Consultancy. We work with clients who want to use SAS to do business intelligence, analytics, and mobile which is the topic we are going to talk about today. In a few hours, I will be on a panel talking about mobile BI.

Mobile Business Intelligence? What kind of BI are we getting out of mobile?

Good question. But Mobile BI is no different than traditional BI implementations, it is just deploying on another set of devices that companies, vendors and technologists need to consider. If I am usually consuming my analytics, reports, etc. on a desktop, what do I now need to consider deliver that information on the road, or in a retail store so that is useful for that audience in that setting?

People want their metrics and they want it now, so what exactly is your handoff? What is your role at Zencos?

You hit it on the head. Business Analytics is all about getting the right information to the right people at the right time. Unfortunately, the right time is always right NOW.  Our role is to go into companies and work with their organization to develop strategies for not only implementing mobile solutions but Business Intelligence and Analytics solutions in general. For us, Mobile is just another mechanism for getting information to people – whether its analytics or historical reporting or being able to do predictive analysis.

Who is a typical customer?

We work with both small and medium businesses across a variety of industries that could include financial services, health and life sciences, state and local government as well as federal government agencies. Our customer base is pretty broad. We do have individuals that are very experienced in special industries, but our specialty overall is helping companies use their data better.

So, we have lots of data now, but the question is what does it all mean?

Exactly, now that I have the data how do I apply I? Or, only give me the data that I need to act on.

So mobile BI becomes important for what type of businesses specifically?

My opinion is that everyone can use mobile BI, but it is really important for businesses who are looking at operational BI or operational analytics.

Is mobile BI best for a company of a certain size or type?

Sure. It’s good for companies that are spread out and have lots of employees on the road like sales organizations.

Are they looking for information on how customers are using their products? What kind of information are they looking for?

Exactly, they are looking for information on their customers, to help them develop and refine their business strategies. For example, I could be on a sales call, but I haven’t researched this guy. I might need to know what he has purchased in the past, what are the best products to start pushing to him in the future. How can they use the company’s products to better achieve their goals?

So is there a time when Mobile BI is not appropriate for a business?

That’s really not the way to address it. It’s more about what you are trying to do as an organization. Who are your end-users? Who are your consumers for your products, and being able to get whatever content is being pushed out there in a way that is useful? I think a lot of people get lost in the novelty of mobile BI. But you still need to evaluate if it is useful to you as an organization, or you as an end-user to have it on your mobile device. And it’s just not about the next new shiny object.

The concept of new is really a misnomer because Mobile BI has really been going on for some time, since the early ’90s and it is still growing and going strong. Originally you had the PalmPilot and small flip phones and you were pushing data to those devices. Then it was only a push of historical information, a report from yesterday. Now it’s transitioned to people pulling information, and asking “what if” – being able to execute predictive analytics on the go.

Companies need this because the window of opportunity is so much tighter. If you don’t have this you are already behind?

Exactly, you need to get information quicker and make sure that information is actionable and not just look at what has happened in the past but how that impacts an organization moving forward. This has always been the role of Business Intelligence and analytics. It just so happens that mobile is just another application.

So many companies can deliver historical data, but that predictive part is what sets you apart from the other guys right?

Right. We’ve had the opportunity from partnerships with companies like SAS, to be at the forefront of predictive analytics. They have solutions for mobile, but it’s more about how you bridge the strength of the analytics and predictive analytics to push meaningful information to your people.

So you have won some awards for the work that you have done. Have these been for specific applications that run on mobile devices?  What does your work look like?

We aren’t a software company building apps for mobile devices. We build solutions that let our customers and their customers access information to be perceived as subject matter experts. We build solutions for them to provide content to their companies whether it’s a law firm that wants to know how they benchmark against other law firms or it’s a company that is trying to make decisions based on regulatory compliance. We help them make quick business decisions. It’s really about generating the analytics, generating the alerts and building a system that can immediately detect issues or changes in the business. That’s our specialty. Our specialty is helping an organization define what they are trying to do with their data and then building a solution that will get them there.

So you consult. You don’t just sell a product. Do you fix problems?  Do you try to figure out how solutions can play nice with what they already have?

Exactly, as well as make recommendations on what kind of infrastructure they might need to be successful, including people. People are huge. With every project, we do there are 3 main components to consider. It’s the people, the process and the technology. The technology is probably the easier one to solve.  It’s really about making sure that you have a strategy in place to train your people if they aren’t already trained on the new technology or the technologies that are coming out. And that you have processes defined to deliver content iteratively and quickly so that you are not only getting information to somebody quickly but as the type of information changes you can get that out quickly as well.

You are growing quickly, what are the challenges for you as a company?

Probably keeping up with the technology, just like everybody else here today. It changes every day. Knowing what technology to take seriously is important.  There is a lot of open source out there that are involved in mobile and Big Data. You always have to be evaluating technology so you can make the best recommendations to clients.

Where do people go to learn more about you?

Our website is a great place to go – www.zencos.com.   We have a great resource section with virtual events, newsletters, blogs and other content like how-to videos. We just don’t want to help customers with services, we also want to create an online environment where we provide our client’s expertise, so they can make the right BI investments.