Back when we founded Incorta in 2013, we envisioned a data analytics platform that would be mobile first. At that time, pundits were predicting that mobile devices, especially the iPad, would soon replace desktop computers. SoMoClo (social, mobile, cloud) was the mantra of the day. You simply had to be mobile.
This is why the very first version of Incorta was all on the iPad. You could do data ingestion, build dashboards and perform other analytics functions by connecting to our Direct Data Mapping engine in the cloud.
That all-iPad business world never materialized, and while we had customers who needed a mobile experience in the field, the majority of people wanted a desktop version. So, we turned our attention to building the web app that we have become known for. But, we never gave up on our vision for mobile, which is why today we are proud to announce the launch of the new and vastly improved Incorta Mobile for iOS and Android. It has been rebuilt from the ground up incorporating all the thought processes of what we’ve built over the last seven years, and using all of the latest and greatest technology, including AR (Augmented Reality) in the iOS version.
The mobile principle
In a sense you could say that mobile has been at the core of Incorta all along, because starting with a mobile-first mindset sent us off on an interesting trajectory. You can’t design the same way you would with a desktop experience, because screen real estate is at a premium. You have to keep the product really, really simple. That was our founding principle, and we stayed true to it. We could have built something a lot more complex when we shifted to developing for the desktop, but our thinking was always to make it accessible and easy for people to use.
While we still embrace mobility wholeheartedly, like the rest of the world we’ve taken a step back from the idea that you’re going to do everything on a mobile device. You’re not going to build a dashboard on your phone, but you might well want to have widgets for certain metrics that you want to look at every day. For example, if you're a VP of sales, at quarter end you may want to look at all the deals that are closing.
This release is all about having access to the same data and the same power of the Incorta platform to search, drill down, find and share information--all the kinds of things business people might need to do on the go. Because of our mobile-first sensibility, it doesn't feel like your typical business app, which is often a clunky, stripped down version of the desktop.
Bringing AR to mobile
Why now? What we saw in 2013 was that analytics activities are not fully integrated into the decision-making flow, which is why people are tethered to their machines. That’s been slowly changing, with people wanting to be able to do analytics in the moment to assist with day-to-day operational decisions.
At the same time, we’ve been investing in our Incorta cloud, so we decided it was time to begin revisiting the mobile app. One thing that inspired us was the Apple augmented reality (AR) kit. Developers were mainly using it to build games, but we started playing with it and asking ourselves, "What can we do with it to build out our Incorta solutions?" At the end of 2018, we acquired an Egyptian company called Badr that had built Graphmented, an AR graphing experience. We were primarily looking to expand our engineering team, but this interesting AR experience came along with them, and from it we began to see how you could engage with the data in a different way using augmented reality.
One of the challenges with mobile is that it is hard to do justice to the density of some visualizations on a mobile device. But in an augmented reality experience, you can look at a visualization on your computer and then you can move the phone in and out to zoom into specific areas and see them in detail. That is very exciting to us.
Inside the bubble
The bubble chart is one of my favorite AR experiences in this release. A bubble chart can have a ton of different data points. On a phone, bubble charts become really difficult to read because they overlap way too much. And, when you’re pinching with your fingers to expand, you lose the context of where you are, and you can't look left or right.
With the AR experience, you turn the phone to the left or right to see more of the chart. Turn it up and down, or take a step back and you see more. It's very fluid, and immersive—you can study the bubble chart similar to the way you might study a piece of art in a gallery. I haven't really seen anything else yet on the market that offers that capability.
I think the future is super bright for AR in data analytics, because this same AR kit will be part of Apple glasses, which we are all waiting for with bated breath.
Feeding data curiosity
People get hooked on the Incorta platform because they feel empowered by having data to help them make decisions, and they love that experience.
As with any tool you’ve come to rely on—Google, Yelp, or the right screw bit or wrench—it’s frustrating when you don't have it at your fingertips.
But when you’re not at your computer with your data in front of you to help with making a decision, having the ability to just pop open and dive right in and get the answer, make that decision, and move on – that freedom is very empowering.
Mobile has always been central to our vision, and we still see a bright future for mobile data analytics. What we’re launching today is a mobile experience that I'm incredibly proud of. It provides the kind of rich experience that we've become used to in all our consumer apps, and is a great foundation for us to build on, which is what we’re celebrating today.
Visit our Incorta Mobile webpage.