North American Companies Want Outside Help With Mobile Worker Apps

Aug 16, 2016

U.S. and Canadian companies have strongly embraced the need for incorporating mobile apps into their employees’ work lives.  But these same businesses also realize they often can’t successfully select and deploy these solutions without help from an outside partner.  Who are today’s favorite mobility experts?  And what value do they bring to the table?

According to the latest Frost & Sullivan Mobile Enterprise Applications survey of businesses*, an impressive 83 percent of respondent companies have already deployed at least one mobile worker app.  The largest proportion of businesses – 23% -- have implemented between 20 and 49 separate mobile apps.  And more deployments are planned for 2017.

These mobile worker apps (also known as B2E Business-to-Employee solutions) can range from the simplest GPS mapping products to truly complex custom software, such as mobilized sales force automation services.  As apps become more sophisticated, and as businesses get larger, the need for a mobility partner becomes stronger.  For example, when the survey results are broken down by size of company, 100% of larger businesses (500 or more employees) opt for outside assistance, while a plurality of small and mid-sized businesses (SMB) favor having no partner at all.  More than a quarter of the SMB sector simply prefers to select and implement on its own. 

What do today’s companies look for in a mobile app partner?  When asked to rank eight different partner selection criteria, the top three were designated as follows:

  1. Professional services capability
  2. Cost of doing business
  3. Experience with integrating applications with back-office systems

While cost remains a strong selection factor, customers are realizing that implementation success depends on expert assistance upfront – especially with any backend integration needs (linking the mobile worker application into the company's inventory management system, ERP, CRM, payroll, etc.).

Consistent with last year’s survey results, the preferred mobility partner remains the larger corporate software vendor (CSV), such as SAP, Salesforce, ClickSoftware, etc.  These vendors often began as desktop software providers but have recently spent a significant amount of money and time to mobilize their software apps to relay real-time information and assistance to and from employee smartphones, tablets and wearables.

When segmenting mobility partner choice by company size, the SMB sector – which used to strongly prefer wireless carriers as their partners – now opts to either handle mobile apps on its own or treats carriers, CSVs, and systems integrators equally as potential helpers.  Larger companies, on the other hand, strongly prefer partnering with CSVs, with wireless carriers dramatically dropping to last in terms of favored options.

The takeaways from these survey results are straightforward.  For companies that want to give their employees mobile software tools to increase productivity and save money, consider leveraging the knowledge and experience of a third-party expert – and pay close attention to what they can offer in terms of upfront professional services, especially their level of backend integration expertise.  For mobile application vendors and their channels, understand that your customers want more than a great mobile app.  They also want expert support setting it up and ensuring a successful deployment.


*”2016 North American Mobile Enterprise Applications: Opportunities within Enterprises,” Frost & Sullivan, September 2016.

Jeanine Sterling


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