Microsoft Surface available to preorder – what does it mean for Business Intelligence?

The Microsoft Surface is available to pre-order in the US and -hurrah! – in the UK. I’m hugely excited by the Surface, and, as I tweeted earlier, it’s ‘awesomeness and attractiveness in one device’ (thanks to Kung-fu Panda. No doubt we’ll have more to discuss at my SQLPass Summit session, where I will be talking about mobile business intelligence. In the meantime, here are my thoughts.

What does the device mean for Business Intelligence? We know that mobile business intelligence is on the rise. For example, Howard Dresner reported last year that, in his Annual Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence industry survey, 70% of organisations considered that 25% of their user base would be using Business Intelligence exclusively – yes, exclusively! – within two years. That’s an awesome assertion.

What makes the Surface interesting for mobile BI users? I haven’t seen one yet, but here is my guess:

familiarity – Excel is the world’s favourite Business Intelligence software. All the talk about half the world’s data to touch Hadoop by 2015 is all very well, but they’ve got to get it out of Excel first, where it is hidden and tucked away and passed around by email. I love Excel, and I’m a fan of anything that will help people to use it. Since it’s a Windows tablet, I hope that Excel is free to roam in the arms of business users everywhere via their Windows devices.

microSD card – it’s a small thing (boom boom) but I think that we have to recognise that we don’t always have internet access. This has always been a big issue with deploying mobile Business Intelligence. HTML5 will allow some offline capability, but what to do until this is available? Bing able to use cards is just easy. Load up your data, and off you go. Once you do have your internet access back, pop it up to SkyDrive where you can share it. Work where you are.

Once I get my hands on one – and I will! – then I can write more about how I see the Surface benefitting business users who want and need mobile Business Intelligence. My appetite is whetted for more. I cannot wait until the Surface is released!

 If you haven’t registered for the Summit, now is the time to do it and I look forward to seeing you there! I look forward to your comments.

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