Jeanine Sterling's Blog

Mobile Applications for Employees: The ROI Disconnect

24 Sep 2012 | by Jeanine Sterling
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A strange dynamic continues to present itself in the mobile business software sector. Despite high satisfaction levels on the part of current users and a fairly straightforward ROI story, potential customers blame “unclear ROI benefits” as a major reason for delaying implementation. Is this a marketing failure on the part of vendors and channels?

Earlier this year, Frost & Sullivan surveyed 300 mobile and wireless purchase decision-makers in the North American business sector. Both Canadian and U.S.-based companies were included in this research. A number of questions were asked about deployment plans, purchase barriers, current user satisfaction, and ROI impacts.

These questions focused on four specific mobile application categories:

  • Wireless Email
  • Mobile Asset Tracking
  • Mobile Workforce Management
  • Mobile Sales Force Automation

Among current users of these application solutions, satisfaction levels are very high. In fact, dissatisfaction percentages can be described as minimal:

  • Wireless Email: 2%
  • Mobile Asset Tracking: 2%
  • Mobile Workforce Management: 3%
  • Mobile Sales Force Automation: 3%

This high satisfaction experience has been pretty consistent across the four years the Frost & Sullivan Mobile Enterprise Applications survey has been conducted. We think it can be attributed to a very clear return on investment.

When asked to identify their top three ROI impacts, the percentage of current users who do so is as follows:

Wireless Email

  • 67% - Increase in worker productivity
  • 43% - More employee collaboration
  • 41% - Reduced paperwork

Mobile Asset Tracking

  • 48% - Reduced paperwork
  • 40% - Reduced employee downtime
  • 38% - Reduced labor expense

Mobile Workforce Management

  • 32% - Reduced paperwork
  • 27% - Reduced labor expense
  • 26% - Increased customer satisfaction

Mobile Sales Force Automation

  • 38% - Increased customer satisfaction
  • 33% - Faster overall sales process
  • 32% - Reduced paperwork

So a pretty clear picture re: return on investment emerges year after year.

However, when we asked high-potential purchasers why they had yet to deploy these solutions, “unclear ROI benefits” was a consistent #2 barrier for Mobile SFA, Mobile Workforce Management, and Mobile Asset Tracking solutions. (The #1 barrier? Implementation cost, of course.)

There’s a strong ROI story behind each of these mobile application categories, and both vendors and channels need to market and promote it more effectively.

Additional survey results are included in our upcoming study: “2012 Mobile Enterprise Applications: Opportunities Within Enterprises in North America,” NB68-65.