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Getting your hands on data with mobile analytics

Donald Farmer | July 17, 2014
Mobile touchscreen interfaces, when designed correctly, provide a more intimate relationship with business data. Donald Farmer of Qlik offers his take on three key UI design principles

That's why a mobile BI platform demands great performance on the client. At least use CSS media queries to restrict the visualization and design features that will be appropriate and available for the client in use. And look to complement that responsive approach by building with a framework such as AngularJS. The two-way data binding makes it easy to listen for screen resizes to determine what kind of elements you would like to load efficiently. If you find that this complicates working with the code, use a CSS pre-compressor (such as LESS.js) and compile everything to single file.

There's another facet of user behavior that may help to squeeze performance from an analytic client. Users following "information scent" mostly make selections that narrow the scope of the data they are looking at, only occasionally moving to a new or broader scope. Looking at U.S. sales, you most likely "drill down" to consider sales in, say, Texas rather than jumping to look at European sales. So caching data on the client can be quite practical, especially if you use JSONPatch to update the array when needed.

The same tendency to start from a higher level and drill down can speed up visualizations using paging. You rarely need to plot 1 million data points, even when rendering a complex data set. The algorithmic approach that enables you to scale visualizations can be used to optimize performance. You may show only key points at first and page in more data as needed when the user selects to explore further.

A natural approach to analytics
As you can see, mobile BI requires that you think beyond mobility. A good mobile analytic platform is fast and facilitates an interactive experience that is responsive and touch-enabled.

These practices not only enable, but encourage exploration. We are compelled by natural curiosity. As we follow it, we make discoveries and form new insights and new understanding.

This is only natural. In business we can only spend so much time at our desks. That's why we get out into the real world, we go on the road, we walk round the store or warehouse or factory floor in order to see what's new. Mobile analytics should go with us -- and work with us the way we need it to work.

Source: InfoWorld


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