Jeanine Sterling's Blog

Mobility Partners: North American Businesses Rank Their Options

03 Oct 2012 | by Jeanine Sterling
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As North American companies and organizations increasingly mobilize their business operations, the choice of a mobility partner/provider becomes crucial. This past May, Frost & Sullivan surveyed 300 mobile and wireless purchase decision-makers in the North American business sector (Canada and U.S.-based companies). One section of questions inquired about mobility partner preferences and selection criteria.

For the respondent sample as a whole, potential partner categories were ranked as follows:

27%    Wireless carrier or operator (ex: AT&T, Sprint, TELUS, Verizon)

18%    Major corporate software vendor (ex: ADP, Oracle, SAP)

13%    Mobile device/handset manufacturer (ex: Motorola, RIM)

12%    Systems integrator or professional services firm (ex: Accenture, DecisionPoint Systems)

11%    Mobile application developer (ex: Telenav, Xora)

8%      Mobile middleware/platform vendor (ex: Antenna Software)

6%      Value-added reseller (VAR)

2%      PBX/UC vendor

5%      Other

8%      None of the above

The continued preference for wireless carriers as mobility partners is unsurprising, given that carriers maintain such a high-touch relationship with their huge embedded customer bases and provide the key ingredient (network) for mobile communications. Many of the more progressive carriers have also taken on the responsibility of vetting a still-fragmented set of vendor alternatives and tend to offer a broad portfolio of mobile solutions.

However, it should be recognized that top partner preferences do vary by business size. Smaller businesses (fewer than 500 employees) have a stronger preference for the wireless carrier, while larger businesses rank the corporate software vendor (CSV) first and the carrier second.

Large enterprise preference for CSVs should be causing wireless carriers heartburn. As they mobilize their traditional desktop systems, CSVs such as Oracle and SAP are leveraging their already-established relationships with larger enterprises and capturing an increasing share of the mobile business applications market.

For all company sizes, the top five selection criteria for evaluating a potential mobility partner are prioritized as follows:

  1. Cost of doing business
  2. Professional services capability
  3. Post-sale service and support capability
  4. The solutions portfolio
  5. Brand reputation

For all company sizes, cost is the top-ranked criterion. The availability of professional services is ranked #2 by larger businesses. Smaller businesses view post-sales service and support capabilities as their second highest selection consideration.

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