Showing Off NFC Sharing Finally..

For quite some time we’ve had a cool feature in the Android app that we call Tap To Share.  It’s brain dead simple to do; but almost impossible to demo or project on screen…. Until now…. Recently one of our favorite pieces of software called Reflector 2 added support for screen casting Android devices to your PC or Mac.  The best part is that it also lets you cast multiple iOS and Android devices at the SAME TIME!

So we decided to do a quick demo to finally show off how tap to share works…. Enjoy!

Thanks to Jacques for the awesome video and thanks to our dev team for the fantastic feature. 

Forcing a Client Cache Update in BI Mobile HD

The Oracle BI Mobile HD app (iOS only) caches JavaScript and
CSS files locally.   It does this the
first time you connect wit a new server connection and can seen in the app
during the connection process.

The Oracle BI Presentation Server uses a mechanism to ensure that Oracle BI Mobile HD app is up-to-date with the latest cached JavaScript and CSS files; it uses an MD5 hash of Oracle BI Presentation Server version string and analytics.ear content along with a user-defined “salt”.  The mobile client will automatically download new manifest and refresh static files when Oracle BI Presentation Server version changes or analytics.ear file is modified.

An Administrator can force a refresh of this cache on the Oracle BI Mobile HD app by changing the user-defined “salt” by adding the following entry in the Presentation Server instanceconfig.xml file.

Note: For most new installs the VersionSalt entry will be a new addition to the existing StaticFiles Section.  The value of VersionSalt is a unique string that is different from the previous string (if the entry is already in the instanceconfig.xml file).  A sequence number or GUID is recommended.

If the entries do not exist, you may add the ‘Cache’ and ‘StaticFiles’ tags. You will add the tags inside the ServerInstance entry.

<WebConfig xmlns=“oracle.bi.presentation.services/config/v1.1”>
   <ServerInstance>
        …….  
       <Cache>  
           <StaticFiles>
               <VersionSalt>34f2c76f-774b-4225-afc3-59f794f43d8d</VersionSalt>
           </StaticFiles>
       </Cache>
      …….
   </ServerInstance>
</WebConfig>

Hint: You can obtain a unique GIUD string from many sites or tools like this one:

http://www.guidgen.com/

After modifying the file be sure to restart the Oracle BI Presentation Server.

The details on the location of the instanceconfig.xml file please see the following document:

http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E23943_01/bi.1111/e10541/configsettings.htm#BIESG1630

For details on starting and stopping the Oracle BI Presentation Server please see the following document:

http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E23943_01/bi.1111/e10541/components.htm#BIESG102

Once you reconnect with BI Mobile App, you will see “Downloading one-time application resources”

Note: This only affects the iOS Mobile app, it does not affect the Desktop browser or Android app.

For the official support document on this topic see the following:

New iOS Update Available

You may have already noticed but there is a new version of our iOS app available on the Apple App Store.  This update includes a bunch of bug fixes and a number of new features including:

  • iOS 8 Support.
  • Immersive Mode. Changes and improvements including Show/Hide options for the Prompts bar, the Page bar, and the title bar.
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  • Local iOS Notification for Alerts. Receive your Oracle BI Mobile alerts in the iOS Notification Center, from which your alerts take you directly to the app.
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  • iPhone: Improvement to First-Time Help. Now you can reset the first-time help so that it shows again whenever you like.
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  • iPad: Improvements to UI. Simplified welcome dialog allows you to quickly choose the demo, the server configuration screen, or offline mode. Simplified sharing options in the Settings screen.
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  • Translation Update.

Also for our enterprise customers take a look at the updated Security Toolkit with support for Xcode 6 and iOS8 along with updated documentation.

http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/middleware/bi-enterprise-edition/downloads/bi-mobile-security-toolkit-1872818.html

5 More Things I Would Rather do on a Mobile Phone

This is a follow up to a previous blog I did on the same topic.  Though I am writing this post on my laptop, it turns many things are just better on the mobile phone.

So here are 5 more things…

Travel

The airline apps and hotel apps have made a ton of progress in the mobile space.  I rarely go to the desktop to check into or even book a flight.  I use a combination of the carrier app and passbook.  For hotels many are now accepting check-ins and bookings.  In fact travel is currently being disputed by mobile first and mobile focused companies like airbnb, Lyft and Uber to name a few.  In all these case the Mobile phone is actually the key to the existence of these apps by bring buyers and seller together.

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Email Management

I am not talking about writing a long email with lots of boring details that usually no one reads.  I am talking about wading through all the noise and figuring out what matters.  Mailbox and Gmail’s Inbox are just a few examples of apps that take a different approach to email.  I love ‘snoozing’ emails and easily clearing out the junk!

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Health and Fitness

I am a fitness nut and have collected data for years, in the past I used desktop programs and web sites to see all my results.  Now it is all about the mobile phone.  Wearables and tons of fitness apps have entered this space and having a fantastic mobile app is table stakes.  I use Fitbit and Strava and I open these apps multiple times a day, but I rarely open their web page on my laptop.

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Banking and Personal Finance

I hate when someone gives me a check! Don’t get me wrong we all like to get paid but I am talking about a physical check.  Banking apps and apps like Paypal let you send and receive money and even deposit those annoying checks.  Personal finance apps are also great and they can provide lot of rich analytics about your spending.  It always shocks me how much I spend at Costco and Target annually. 

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Order Food

I know I am not the only one who has ordered their meal while waiting in line at the place where they are going to eat.  I use the mobile apps and mobile web apps for a bunch of popular food chains (Panera, Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, Jimmy Johns, and more).  I think there is still a lot of room for improvement with most of these apps but end result is great and my laptop is never around when I am thinking about eating.  

I am some how compelled to order food from this new Dom app…

So that brings me to my shameless plug.  Why not BI on the phone, because if you are not doing it now you will be soon. 

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You can install and check out our apps on your phone, even if you don’t have access to an Oracle Business Intelligence server.

BI Mobile for Android

BI Mobile HD for iOS

And don’t forget to design purposeful BI content for the phone using BI Mobile App Designer.

Turns Out It’s Been Done Before

I stumbled on this while looking up some old docs and thought it would be great post.  Really this is a lesson learned.

Almost 2 years ago we set out to do a project with some big data on mobile.  We were feeling really smart, and started with a large data set from twitter about sediment during the olympics.  We were looking at other big data visualizations and we came across one that was sort of like a sunburst chart on political climate.  We modified this and with the help from some of our designers and developers we built the following visualization.

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We thought it was great and as part of this visualization you could control the filters or time. The main visualization would reflect sentiment for a specific category based on all the twitter data we had.
Well, turns out, we stole this idea from Florence Nightingale and she created it in the 1850’s.  Her visualization dealt with patient mortality in military field hospitals.
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The pont here is that even with all our great advances in the areas of analytics and data, sometimes is been done before and it many not be as complex or as great as we thought…
Thanks to the folks in design and dev who worked on this project and thanks to @pgkiran for figuring out that we just copied this concept with out even knowing it.
Lesson Learned!

I’m Sorry, Big Data – Size Does Not Matter…

OK this is going to be one of my soapbox posts, so consider yourself warned.  I have been doing a fair amount of reading on big data, visualizations, and analytics in general and I have come to a clear conclusion. 

“The value of data should not be measured in bytes, it should be measured based on its usefulness.”

I know the focus right now is how can a database or a server crunch all kinds of data quickly, and this is a software and hardware problem that is being solved by a host of startups and large companies.  This is great news, but as an end user I really don’t care.  I just want the answer.

You see, the data crunch issue or the ability to display a bunch of stuff in a visualization can be solved by writing code and optimizing software and hardware, but will my decisions be better as a result?  Will the data (or answer) arrive when I need it?  Will I be able to use that result to solve a problem in my supply chain, increase my revenue, or reduce my DSO?  

In thinking about this I keep going back to the weather example.  Weather data is massive; and the prediction algorithms being applied and models being created keep growing.  Though what I care about is if I should wake up for a run in the morning.  Will it be snowing, raining or too cold to run?

My weather apps have solved this by focused and timely data that is actionable by the end user.  Lets explore the key things that make this work well:

Just the Basics

There can be too much information and it is up us not to cross that line.  These days I am seeing a bunch of visualizations like this one:

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I am not saying this is bad and I love some of these big data visualizations, but consider the problem and the user before you present something.  In my weather use case a visualization like this one might not have high value to the end user and in fact, they just don’t need all that data for the decision they are attempting to make.

Consider this simple hourly line chart in the Yahoo Weather app on an iPad.

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This is a high value result that is very useful!

User Context

Having the users context is key for high value data; knowing the users location, if they are traveling, how they are traveling, and more can change how and what data an app might present.  Weather is too simple to make this point because, of course you want to know what the weather is like where you are at, but what about he supply chain example I gave you earlier.  If I have a distribution issue I need to solve, knowing that the user is at a specific distribution center where there is an inventory shortage can be critical in providing valuable data. 

Having context is critical but hard to solve.  The first step is for analytic companies to focus on users context and at least attempt to understand how that applies to the data set.  The great news is that all of our new devices are filled with great information on user context and consumer applications are successfully leveraging this information.

Timely Information

If I am outside stuck in the rain, and I get an alert that it is going to rain, then my app may have failed me!  

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The key is giving the user that value data at the right time and letting them decide how or if it will impact their decisions.  

For example getting a visualization about a marking campaign and how it is trending on Twitter prior to my meeting with my CFO can be extremely valuable.  Seeing reach data while in the meeting can help determine if the campaign will be extended and if it is going to impact the bottom line.  That has real impact and value.

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These are broad stroke concepts and will not happen over night but directionally I would love to see idea of #valuedata trending more than #bigdata.  These concepts are the ones they keep us up at night and over time you will see more and more of this take hold in the analytics market.

Guerrilla marketing at OOW 14

In cased you missed It we had some cool stuff to show at Oracle Open World this year and we had some fun with self promoting it.

We will write a blog or 2 recapping our efforts, but for now I wanted to share our guerrilla marketing efforts that we sent in the form of image tweets.

Keep in mind we are not designers or artists and our best camera is on an iPhone or a Moto X.

What’s your favorite?

Smashing Bugs…

OK even with all this Oracle Open World stuff going on the team has been busy smashing bugs in our current Android App.  If you have not noticed an update yet from the Google Play Store you should have it soon.  This contains 100% bug fixes and address a date issue that we think was impacting some folks with non-US date formats.

3 Things You Probably Did Not Know About our Android App

Our Android App is pretty new for us, but in mobile terms is has been out for a long time (8 months or so).  With that I thought I would share 3 cool features that I bet you did not know about our app.

1 – You can ‘Tap to Share’ reports and connections.

Our app uses NFC (Android Beam) to allow users to quickly share report or even connections.  Here is how it works:

  1. Open a report or dashboard or even a connection
  2. Tap the NFC to another Android phone with NFC and our app installed.
  3. Beam the content to the new device.

2 – You can search and open content with your voice. 

In the application just tap the search icon from any browsing screen and then tap the mic to speak your search.  This is great for reports you use all the time.

3 – You can search and open content without even opening our app.

We have integrated with Google search on your device so when enabled you can search for BI content right from your phones home screen.

You can see it in action here: 

http://bimobilelabs.com/post/94494705400/weve-talked-about-the-google-search-integration

Here is a post on setting it up:

http://bimobilelabs.com/post/94494676605/google-search-integration-in-oracle-bi-mobile-for

Just some bugs…

You may have noticed an iOS update for our BI Mobile app yesterday.  Nothing to really worry about, just some bug fixes.  Pretty isolated stuff that most of our users won’t hit these bugs, but we felt it was important enough so ‘smash’ them right away, and not wait for our next feature release.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/oracle-business-intelligence/id534035015?mt=8