Sunday, June 14, 2009

SAS® on iPhone® BI gone Mobile?

Smartphone or mobile computing is reaching a tipping point that is going to have a profound affect on how we access and work with information. The release of the iPhone 3Gs along with OS 3 and its ever popular App Store has increase the cadence as competitors such as RIM Blackberry, Palm Pre and Google G1 are trying to catch up. The industry is reaching a point of critical mass that can no longer be ignored since the iPhone and its related iPod touch device has reached over 40 million sold. Its revolutionary App Store makes it easy for users to download has surpassed over 50,000 apps with over a billion downloads all within the first 9 moths after its launch. At this writing, the iPhone 3G price has also been cut to $99 poised to hit the mainstream cel phone market. It is becoming a ubiquitous computing device going beyond being just a phone and therefore blurring the classification of a netbook and augmenting laptops in usage. It can no longer be berated as a toy with faddish applications that have no use other than for amusement.

When I first started using SAS on mainframe computers, I noticed a similar attitude that system administrators and SAS analyst had towards the IBM PC and the burgeoning Windows operating system as being a toy and therefore can never really run serious business applications crunching large data with powerful analytics. The closed minded view that the PC was just a toy was analogous to how I see skeptics view of the iPhone and other mobile devices. Those same managers closed their eyes to the many uses of applications that run on PCs. However, they began to see its usefulness when the PCs were connected to the Internet to change the computer industry and pushed mainframes computing into relics of the past. The many applications that are being developed for the iPhone demonstrates that there are killer apps that can be a game changer as analogous to its predecessor in the PC revolution.

There have been many wars waged within the computer industry ranging from hardware to OS to browser wars. What it all boils down to when it comes to the user’s experience are the applications. The App Store has demonstrated its popularity and with the latest ability to have application sell other application, iPhone application is truly competing and replacing mobile web through a browser. Users are no longer going through a browser but rather gravitating towards a new access point of an application on a mobile device. This is a fundamental shift that will seriously alter cloud computing and related Internet services. To put it bluntly, “it is the App Stupid”.
It is not too late for SAS analysts that are glued to their laptops, desktop and servers to benefit from the mobile revolution that is going on. This paper will elaborate on a few of the following areas which debunks the notion of iPHone as a mere toy but rather that it can deliver serious business applications such as SAS in ways that was not possible before. This includes:

  • System Architecture – How a iPhone access SAS data and macros
  • Application Servers – SAS as an application server for iPHone applications
  • Secure Users – Authenticating users and securing access to data
  • Macro Parameters – Its no longer check boxes and radio buttons
  • Viewing Data – Viewing SAS data in a mobile multi touch smart phone
The paper I am working on will communicate these concepts through its example of the BI Flash™ software which a combination a SAS program and an iPhone App. It will illustrate how real practical and useful SAS macros can be used to deliver dynamic business critical analytics to mobile users. We are about to enter into a new era of computing leaving behind traditional PCs and web 2.0. This paper will illustrate and pave a clear path to how SAS can catch up and boldly step into this dynamic world of mobile computing.

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