Oracle unveils HTML5-based mobile BI app designer

Business users can create their own mobile apps, according to Oracle

Oracle is latching onto the self-service BI (business intelligence) trend with a new tool for creating HTML5-based mobile applications.

BI Mobile App Designer, which was announced Monday, runs in a browser and has a drag-and-drop design format. Users can mash together graphs, tables and other types of data "to create mobile analytical apps tailor-made to their lines of business," Oracle said.

The experience is "as easy as working with common office productivity tools," Oracle claimed.

Oracle's use of HTML5 means the applications can run across iOS, Android and Windows Mobile devices. Users are able to share mobile applications through a catalog called App Library, according to the announcement.

BI Mobile App Designer is part of Oracle's Business Intelligence Foundation Suite, which lists for US$300,000 per processor license, and uses the same security model. It's also included with the BI Mobile option for Oracle BI Enterprise Edition, according to a statement.

Oracle is positioning BI Mobile App Designer as a self-service product that end-users can work with without the ongoing help of IT. But there are a number of caveats to consider, said Forrester Research analyst Boris Evelson.

"The self-service' term has many interpretations, it's not just yes or no," Evelson said via email Monday. "There are many shades of gray."

For one thing, "'intuitive and 'user friendly' are subjective terms, Evelson wrote in a Forrester Report on self-service BI released last year: "A point-and-click and drag-and-drop graphical user interface (GUI) may be a nirvana of intuitiveness to an information management pro who started his computer career working with punch cards or green-screen terminals, but to a younger generation of knowledge workers brought up on search GUI from Google and social media GUI from Facebook, a point-and-click GUI may not be as obvious or natural."

Forrester breaks out more than 20 criteria for self-service BI, such as whether the tool includes automatic data modeling, collaboration capabilities and data virtualization for tying together multiple data sources, rather than forcing users to wait until IT creates a new data mart within a central data warehouse.

Overall, in most self-service BI cases, IT still has to set up the infrastructure to source and extract data, as well as integrate and model the information before users can start working with a self-service tool, Evelson said.

However, data-exploration and discovery tools are separate from this, in that they don't need to work with clean, integrated and modeled data, Evelson added.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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