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I’ve been following and writing about MeLLmo, the company responsible for the development of Roambi, since they made their first appearance in the App Store a few years ago. They make a mobile business intelligence platform that delivers the most stunning data presentations available on iPhone and iPad. Seriously, try to find a better designed app for presenting numerical information – there are simply no apps that compare.

Good for Small Businesses, but Really Good for Enterprises

I use Roambi for small business data presentations and mobile delivery requirements with my clients and in my own [very small] business, but the company (MeLLmo, Inc.) has slowly and purposefully transitioned its offerings to serve much larger consumers – corporate enterprises. The rate of Roambi’s transition and readiness for large corporate buyers suggests it was fully intentional from the beginning.

Mobile Device Security

In this article (RoamBi; a Slick Enterprise Business Intelligence Platform for iPhone) I speculated that they should consider a “fingerprinting” model for control over sensitive data roaming widely across smart phones.

Notwithstanding the security issues in the free services, it’s clear that RoamBi is destined for internal corporate use with iPhone. RoamBi’s architecture makes it abundantly clear that the Publisher (server) technology will be deployed into corporate IT environments or provided as secure hosted services over corporate VPN’s. It’s pure speculation, but it wouldn’t be surprising to find that RoamBiViewers can be “fingerprinted” to work only with a specific instance of thePublisher; perhaps even specific documents.

In a follow-up interview, I got the sense that the developers had very specific answers concerning security and as it turns out, my early speculation describes pretty much the approach Roambi uses to achieve comprehensive device and data control separate and apart from other enterprise services such as Sybase’s Afaria platform. Roambi is clearly paving the way for the best possible comfort level CTOs can have with iOS-based devices.

Mobile BI Performance

Racing ever so slightly ahead of the enterprise adoption curve for Apple iPad (NasdaqGS: AAPL) in business and corporate use, MeLLmo and it’s very clever presentation designers have managed to create a holistic approach to acquiring, optimizing, and delivering actionable information to many Fortune 500 companies. This strategy required a significant investment in cloud services and security infrastructure to support the breadth and depth of enterprise BI requirements. But with a clear vision of mobile BI requirements, the Roambi team recognized that back-end integration with existing BI products and services such as IBM’s Cognos and Oracle’s Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition 11g, required some serious planning.

Even so, setting aside all the issues with third-party data integration, access control, and the usual and customary challenges of BI integration across a landscape of IT potholes, Roambi managed to take even higher ground – the addition of Roambi “Blink”.

Roambi Blink

Blink is a new Roambi View (pre-designed template) for the Roambi ES3 mobile application that connects directly to data warehouse cubes and transforms that data into secure, interactive visualizations that allow multi-dimensional analysis at unprecedented speeds right from any iPhone or iPad. According to said Santiago Becerra, MeLLmo co-founder and CEO, …

“When it comes to viewing and interacting with business reports on a mobile device, the Roambi experience has always been unparalleled – but one of our top customer requests was for the ability to generate dynamic visualizations from raw data. With the launch of Blink and the expanded connectivity to data warehouse cubes, we’re giving our customers a powerful analysis tool that provides lightning-fast insight into their data – whether from the cube or from an existing report – any time, anywhere.”

IBM Survey: Mobile Apps Will Dominate Enterprise

Rightly, MeLLmo has anticipated the explosive growth of mobile computing and the emerging app-centric enterprise. A recent survey by IBM demonstrates how open-minded enterprise CTOs are to adopting app-centric solutions that leverage mobile devices. As businesses expand their mobile support, the mobile information diet will also expand.

But mobile computing solutions, especially in cases where the requirements involve intensive and complex data sets, suffer from performance issues. It’s not uncommon to see executives sipping their favorite Starbucks coffee while waiting for their “smart” phones to refresh with new data. To be clear, this is not a new problem nor is it isolated to mobile devices – laptops suffer from the same performance problems because BI systems are largely designed with traditional client-server models.

In the typical client-server model used by most mobile BI apps, lots of requests and results flow systematically between the mobile client and the BI servers. Each request creates latency and is generally perceived by corporate users as network sluggishness or sometimes misconstrued as poor rendering performance.

Blink Under the Covers

Roambi has developed an integration model that allows mobile BI implementers to carve out a “cube” of data, optimize it for transport, and move it to the Roambi client along with dynamic presentation models. This makes it possible to change the dimensions of a report view without asking the server to re-sculpt the information set and send it a second (or third, or fourth) time depending on the number of report requests for what amounts to the same data.

Roambi Blink leverages a sort of a hybrid early-binding concept that makes it possible to move just enough of the data and rendering solution to the mobile device so that late(er) binding of data and reporting views can be developed instantly. The elegance in this approach serves the corporate BI user best – they are actually creating new and dynamic views and reports in the field. Blink makes it possible to allow the last few meters of BI data to benefit from a very powerful element of agility.

The outcome makes it possible to change reporting perspectives as well as analytical dimensions in the “blink of an eye”.

Indeed, MeLLmo’s engineers have a laser focus on user experience; not just the stellar presentations they are famous for, but the data pipe and solution-sculpting process necessary for a high-performance experience.

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