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The demand for business information on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets continues to increase, while the technology to support it has not. In our benchmark research on information applications, only 11 percent of organizations said they are very satisfied with their ability to provide such information, and their top two complaints with existing technologies are that they are too slow and not adaptable or flexible. The unique aspects of mobile technology, from the small screen size to the use of gestures for interaction, make for a complex technological problem.
Roambi is a technology vendor active in this space, having been preparing and presenting rich information on Apple iPhone and iPad devices for several years, as I have written. Our firm recognized one of Roambi customers, Life Technologies, for business mobility in our 2011 Leadership Awards. It provides digital mobile access to rich information applications through Roambi Flow, which enables users to assemble information into a presentation, publication, application or whatever grouping they need to share with others. Roambi Flow can embed content, from text to images, to tell a story in a presentation or briefing book, or to create digital publications on a routine basis. Now, as the demand for delivering digital publications expands to marketing collateral, annual reports, market research and other documents, organizations need to further customize content for an unlimited number of people. To meet this need, Roambi has released Roambi ESX, which builds upon existing products Roambi Analytics and Roambi Flow to provide the means to reach a larger audience. Roambi ESX not only enables organizations to publish to their existing audiences of employees and customers but also provides commercial opportunities to generate new revenue streams. For example, organizations can create a branded experience by using a custom logo or graphic that users see when they review an application for download. Roambi has learned from its experience in publishing software to the Apple App Store and now enables organizations to publish their own applications. With this step, Roambi has entered the mobile information and application platform market.
Roambi also recently released an extension to Roambi Flow to help businesses publish content from existing presentations that they already use on a daily basis. Roambi Present addresses shortcomings of the original applications, including the difficulty and slowness of assembling information into views and deploy them, as cited by almost half (47%) of research participants. Presentations made in Apple Keynote and Microsoft PowerPoint can be starting points for enrichment through interactive analytics. Typically businesses create presentations using these tools, then save them in presentation mode or in static versions through Adobe Acrobat. Roambi Present can examine an existing presentation, capture the slides’ formatting, layout and content, and prepare it for enrichment within Roambi Flow. Then, through placement of Roambi Analytics or its reports into the slides, users can present supporting content as part of the presentation. Roambi also supports embedding hot spots in link images, such as maps, to charts. As well Roambi’s security prevents access to a presentation or data from those who are not authorized. This expansion will make Roambi more popular with business analysts who use Microsoft Office to create and email presentations.
This is a refreshing approach to helping businesses assemble and deploy richer information to mobile devices, and it comes as businesses increase their use of tablets, which are often the primary computing vehicle for many classes of employees. In fact, our business analytics benchmark research found that 38 percent of organizations demand analytics and metrics be available via mobile technologies. With Roambi, they can deliver this information in presentations without help from the IT department, which reduces the time it takes to get information to those who need it. Roambi exceeds the capabilities of many other technology vendors in the business intelligence space, who focus on publishing charts from existing reports within an IT-managed environment; today, that does not provide the flexibility or depth of content that many organizations need. If Roambi could add support for collaboration from within its deployed applications and also add Android mobile technology support they could grow even faster.
As organizations realize that Microsoft Office and its business intelligence tools do not meet their emerging information needs or suit how their business analysts operate, they will look for tools like Roambi Flow and Roambi Present to help engage their mobile audiences. As organizations look to brand and deliver their own custom information applications, Roambi ESX will help them quickly reach a large and growing mobile audience. Roambi continues to advance the technology that businesses need to meet their pressing cycles for both accessing and publishing information and analytics digitally across mobile technologies. It establishes a new standard for mobile information platforms with its interactive and visual discovery tools and its process to assemble and deploy publications, presentations and applications.
Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer
I recently got an update on mobile applications and strategy for smartphones from ADP, the $9 billion provider of applications and services in human resources, payroll and benefits. By acquiring and partnering with organizations, ADP has become the largest provider in this segment while focusing on providing added value and new offerings to its customers. For some companies, being such a large business human capital management and talent management software could inhibit its agility, but ADP has quickly made progress in bringing its first generation of applications to the Apple iOS platform for iPhone.
The company’s RUN Powered by ADP Mobile for the small business owner or CPA helps implement payroll activities and address human resource issues. It can be put in place for 50 employees or less, since usually as an organizations gets larger it turns to other accounting support to cover these types of needs. This mobile application, launched in 2010, is gaining users. It operates on Android, iPhone and BlackBerry smartphones. It provides a simple way to enter and review payroll data and wages for contractors, and provides quick access to employee information, reports and ADP’s HR Checkup and HR Dictionary to answer quick questions on employer/employee needs and provide weekly HR tips. The application includes security and integration to support an organization’s information privacy needs. The mobile application layers on top of the ADP payroll services are packaged for small, midsize and large organizations. Its approach is a plus for small and on-the-go businesses that have little time for spreadsheets, paperwork and email reviews of payroll and pay-related services.
Another application, ADP Mobile Solutions, is an employee self-service environment for the iPhone that makes it easy to launch applications covering timesheets, payroll, retirement, calendar, company news and contact directory. It provides simple ways for employees to see their pay, enter timesheet information and, for hourly employees, use the clock function to punch in and out. ADP encrypts all information transmitted between its servers and the mobile application, and employs additional timeout and security methods – a significant plus when sharing sensitive information about an employee. For the next release, ADP plans to include capabilities to support talent management and social media and collaboration for employee and manager interaction. Just announced and released last month, ADP Mobile Solutions already is gaining attention within the company’s large customer base.
ADP’s approach is to provide this common set of applications across smartphones to connect to its variety of back-end applications to make it easier for employees to operate. ADP provides native support for Apple iPhones and a browser-based application for Android and other smartphone systems. The company also promotes its advancements in mobility with a blog to create dialogue around its offering.
ADP addresses workforce management needs with this set of solutions that layer on top of its Vantage HCM offering, providing an efficient way for its customers to manage their workforces while away from their desks. This kind of mobility and collaboration are part of what we see as the next generation of workforce management. It will dramatically streamline scheduling and interactions in the workforce and make it simpler to implement employee and manager self-service. I expect ADP will eventually support tablets as well. While you can operate the applications on tablets like Apple iPad today, they are not dynamically sized and don’t take advantage of the larger form factor yet. ADP says to stay tuned; I will, since the company has a viable approach to mobility that I can download and try directly from the Apple App Store, unlike many vendors that still provide only screenshots or videos and fail to offer interested parties a chance for immediate access and usage.
CEO & Chief Research Officer