Jeanine Sterling's Blog

Mobile Workforce Management Applications: Mass Adoption Has Arrived

31 Dec 2011 | by Jeanine Sterling
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The North American mobile workforce management sector is a vigorously growing market, with distinct evolutionary phases. Mobile workforce management applications use wireless and location technologies to locate, track and manage mobile workers and their tasks.
The U.S. is right in the middle of morphing to Stage IV, translating into the long-awaited mass adoption phase, and teeing up new challenges and participants. The Canadian market lags in terms of interest and deployments; however, it is expected to “catch up” in terms of portfolios and marketing effort during the next three to four years.
This market is being positively driven by a multitude of high-impact factors, including:
  • A quick, consistent, hard-dollar ROI
  • The entry of major corporate software vendors
  • Increasing emphasis on creating vertical-specific solutions
  • Improving technology
  • Growing line-of-business (LOB) involvement in the purchase decision
At the same time, challenges continue to rear up and act as a brake on purchases and deployments. These include:
  • Continued dampening impact of the current economy
  • A perceived lack of business value
  • High upfront investment requirements
  • Concerns regarding corporate data security
  • A lack of confidence and expertise on the part of the prospective customer
Industry trends around product capabilities, pricing, targeted markets, platform vs. point solutions, key stakeholders, both new and maturing channels, technology advancements, and the purchase decision process are all normal for this phase in the larger adoption life cycle and continue to exhibit progress on all fronts.
Wireless carriers continue to function as a key distribution channel for these solutions.  And AT&T continues to provide the template for other carriers to benchmark against. AT&T presents a strategically well thought-out selection of solutions, addressing the unique needs of smaller vs. larger companies. The carrier has defined best-in-class partners, trained up and incented a professional sales force, and is implementing a strategy that will position it strongly against new market entrants and threats.
Frost & Sullivan user and revenue forecasts have been updated to reflect growing participation by major corporate software vendors, who have partnered and acquired their way into the mobile enterprise applications sector in general and the mobile field service category in particular. Their sizeable customer bases and willingness to work with best-in-class mobility platform players make the large CSVs formidable competitors. Market share is expected to steadily shift from wireless carrier domination as major corporate software vendors and systems integrators become more active.
Mobilizing field service workers continues to receive an abundant amount of attention from both IT and LOB heads. What used to be a purchase decision initiated and made by the IT department is now including active engagement by the individual line of business heads. LOBs are recognizing the impact of increasing visibility and value out in the field with their service workers. The individual business heads have the money and the motivation – and are flexing their muscles to force MRM purchases.
Challenges -- and the resulting strategic and tactical recommendations -- differ by stakeholder segment. Given the vast amount of potential MRM users, this market promises substantial rewards to the stakeholders that survive.