To really appreciate the convergence of Big Data and the
iPad, look no further than Roambi. I touched
on Roambi last year, in a previous post on TechRepublic about putting mobile BI on your corporate tablets. However, now that so many enterprises are
turning their attention to Big Data, analytics apps such as Roambi are finding
more use cases.

When Roambi recently popped up again on my radar, I decided to
come back and revisit them to find an even better mobile strategy and their
already impressive iPad app now optimized for iOS 7. Roambi
has broadened their mobile strategy to Roambi Analytics and Roambi Flow, and I
spent some time with both apps.

Roambi Analytics

An iPad running Roambi Analytics makes for a powerful data visualization tool with its Retina
display. The hardware specification bumps in the newly-launched iPad Air (and
iPhone 5S, for that matter) should also make for a more dynamic mobile platform
for access backend data analytics using Roambi Analytics.

The newly redesigned Roambi Analytics app includes the following features:

  • New gallery interface for the Roambi Library 
  • Roambi Card view, a visualization option for
    both the iPad and iPhone
  • Annotation tools for calling out key data points
    and sharing screenshots with other team members

I signed up for a Roambi trial account, and I was quite
pleased at how much the app has approved. Setting up a Roambi account can be done without an irksome sign-up process. Once you sign into Roambi Analytics, you’ll be greeted with an opening screen (Figure A).

Figure A

The new Roambi Analytics user interface.

The new user interface takes advantage of iOS 7 elements. This app successfully demonstrates
why mobile and Big Data convergence is going to happen.

One element I especially like is the filters that are directly
available from the main screen. Figure B shows an example of the Card and
Cardex view.

Figure B

Card view in Roambi.

The more I tooled around with the filters, the more
filtering options I found for respective screens. This is the point where I
usually toss out a suggestion about the need for user training. However, in the
case of Roambi Analytics, I’m going encourage you to play with the filters, because they’re incredibly easy to use. In fact, the
filters definitely contributed to the overall positive experience I had testing out the
Roambi demo. You can put Roambi in the hands on the non-or semi-technical sales person
or executive so they can run their own reports with this tool.

Roambi Flow

Backing up Roambi Analytics is Roambi Flow,
an app that enables you to create data-rich multi-touch publications for your
iPad.

I only had a chance to look through a Roambi Flow demo. The
concept of it is appealing for data-intensive businesses that need to change up
their game with publications. Even with the advancements in recent versions of
Adobe Acrobat’s PDF, a data-intensive report delivered
in Roambi Flow gives you the tools to create more impactful reports. Figure C
shows a view of a Roambi Flow publication.

Figure C

Roambi Flow publication.

Roambi and a mobile Big Data strategy

While Roambi gives mobile enterprises two compelling tools
for mobilizing their data analytics, it can’t be done without some modicum of a
strategy. Starting off, Roambi costs $39.00/user per month, with a minimum of
10 users. The Roambi platform is available as a cloud or on-premise solution.
Going the cloud route is easiest for enterprises who have a large mobile user
community.

Once you decide on a platform option, you then need to
figure out which users in the organization get Roambi accounts. An administrator
on the cloud side also needs to ensure that the data and reports are prepared for
the mobile users.

While Roambi Analytics is a beautiful app, organizations
that want to move some or all of their executives or knowledge workers to the
app for reporting will need to wean their user community off Excel spreadsheets. Users
may love the beauty and simplicity of Roambi Analytics, they just need to see
it taking the place of spreadsheets in order for an organization to reap the
full potential of this well executed iPad app.

Looking at the Roambi Flow publishing tools was out of
scope for this post, but I’m not above saying that Roambi Flow might represent a
future option for Big Data-centric reports. However, such a replacement will still bump into people’s dependencies on spreadsheets.

Summary

Roambi Analytics and Roambi Flow set a new standard for the
convergence of data analytics and the iPad. These are the sort of apps you can
put in the hands of knowledge workers to fill out the ranks of your Big Data
team, executives who need frequent reports, and your mobile workforce as a
whole. 

What analytics apps are you using for Big Data reporting? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.