Jeanine Sterling's Blog


ClickSoftware Acquires Xora: Real Potential to Grow MWM Market

18 Feb 2014

ClickSoftware just announced that it is acquiring Xora for $14.7 million, a development that we think – if handled smartly – will be a winning proposition for the mobile workforce management (MWM) market in North America and beyond. (A market we expect to reach almost $3 billion in annual revenues by 2018.)

First, some background on the acquired party: Xora is a west coast company that began, over a decade ago, to develop field worker tracking applications to be used on mobile phones. These apps are cloud-based and offered on a subscription basis to business customers. Their per-user/per-month pricing model promised affordability and easy scalability to small companies with tight budgets. And providing a SaaS solution relieved SMB targets of day-to-day management and maintenance responsibilities. Anticipating that customer needs would progress beyond “dots on a map” employee location tracking, Xora enhanced its solutions to automate and optimize work processes. In late 2010, a new executive team came in to revitalize the flagship product. This team also recognized that MWM apps could be designed to significantly enhance actual customer engagement out in the field, and so they pushed and prodded businesses to look at MWM in a more expansive way. The result has been over 16,000 business customers and a consistent leadership position in the MWM market.

ClickSoftware has approached the MWM market from a different direction – as a desktop software leader in field service management that recognized the power of mobilizing its product. In Xora, it sees a number of complementary strengths that will propel the combined entity more aggressively along the MWM growth curve. The major advantage: ClickSoftware’s customer base tends to use on-premise solutions. Xora is comfortable in the cloud. Guess where mobile enterprise apps are heading? (See “Moving to the Cloud with Mobile Apps” – December 2013)

ClickSoftware is also anticipating the convergence of companies’ mobile resource management needs, seeing increased potential in Xora’s single web-based portal for managing not only workers and their tasks, but also keeping an eye on fleet vehicles and portable assets in the field. Xora also brings a strong set of wireless carrier partnerships to the table. And, of course, that SMB customer base and expertise.

ClickSoftware is no slouch when it comes to satisfying up-market needs, and it too has carrier relationships that could be enhanced with this acquisition. The company is also a major innovator, with its artificial intelligence, context-aware ClickButler software assistant serving as a prime example of how, with the right resources applied, MWM solutions can be made even more valuable and productive.

It should be noted that this acquisition continues a dynamic that is increasing in frequency – companies buying instant mobility expertise by acquiring a mobile-centric enterprise app developer. For MWM in particular, this deal shakes up a fairly static landscape that has averaged only one to two major consolidations annually – and only during the past couple of years. In 2012, SAP bought Syclo. In 2013, FleetCor acquired Telenav’s enterprise unit, and Pegasystems purchased Antenna Software. Now ClickSoftware has scooped up Xora.

We wonder if any of ClickSoftware’s field service management competitors might now look closely at Actsoft or Complete Innovations – two other worthy mobile workforce management application developers with close ties to major North American wireless carriers.

Of course, it’s easy to speculate about the potential downside of this consolidation trend. Marketplace competition could decrease. As a result, prices might increase. There might be too much of a culture shock for the acquired employees, leading to an exodus of mobile talent instead of an expansion. There may be too long of a technological pause as the two companies integrate. The tendency to innovate may dry up as people and roadmaps are absorbed into the parent company.

ClickSoftware and Xora seem to have strong teams that can avoid these potential pitfalls. Based on past interviews with executives in both companies, the benefits of this deal won’t rest solely on leveraging complementary strengths at the product, target market, and channel levels. Success will also be grounded in the cultural strengths these companies share – with their mutual emphasis on listening to the customer, thinking strategically, and constantly innovating.

Mobile Workforce Management Apps: Is Anyone Innovating?

23 Jan 2014

When it comes to mobile workforce management solutions, the most recent bold technological leaps have come from an interesting set of participants.

First, let’s define MWM: This application category encompasses software solutions that use wireless and location technologies to locate, track, and/or manage mobile field workers and their tasks. Think grey-collar workers such as maintenance and repair techs, pick-up and delivery drivers, home healthcare workers, etc. The solutions are used on smartphones, tablets, and ruggedized devices. The better ones have progressed beyond Big Brother to optimize work processes and enrich customer engagement.

Who’s creating these solutions? First up, are the mobile-centric MWM app developers who entered this space a decade or so ago with prepackaged apps targeted at small and mid-sized businesses. Then there are the traditional field service management providers who saw the light and began mobilizing access to their own desktop products.

Typically, in any given year, we can point to significant new MWM capabilities originating from the mobile-first developers. However, 2013 witnessed more product refinement than grand technological advances from this group. Which, in retrospect, makes sense. It was time to catch up and make the “small” improvements, including making solutions more user-friendly, expanding device support, updating locationing technology, and layering in complementary offerings from the channel partners (in most instances, this was the wireless carrier).

While logical, this focus on incremental improvement did leave space for the traditional field service management solution providers to tout some striking and innovative offerings.   These included Astea International’s sophisticated scheduling options, ClickSoftware’s ClickButler context-aware intelligent assistant capability, and TOA Technologies’ predictive algorithms for tech arrival times.

And, based on a few peeks at 2014 road maps, the traditional desktop vendors will be introducing additional MWM advancements during the next 12-18 months.

Hopefully, this is motivating the mobile-first app developers to come out swinging with their own innovations. They’re attempting to move up-market into the larger enterprise sector, while the desktop vendors move down-market into mid-size businesses. As a result, MWM competition is heating up, customers are becoming more educated and demanding, and any provider that stands still for too long is going to be left behind.

We talk more about the Mobile Workforce Management market in two related and recently-published studies: “Mobile Workforce Management Markets: Prepackaged Mobile Field-based Worker Applications in North America” (NC4B-65) and our survey-based report “Mobile Workforce Management Solutions Market Insight: 2013 Feedback from North American Businesses” (9838-114).

Mobile Apps for Business: Which Have Captured Companies' Attention?

31 Dec 2013

Which mobile applications seem to be providing real value-add to today’s businesses? How do they rank against each other in terms of current implementation vs. future growth?

Mobile worker apps are everywhere in the U.S. and Canadian business sectors.  According to our 2013 Mobile Enterprise Applications survey responses (from 300+ North American businesses), 73% of today’s companies have deployed at least one mobile software application to their employees’ handheld devices. Looking forward, seventy-one percent of the surveyed companies plan to add one or more new solutions by late 2014.

In the 2013 survey, we focused on eleven specific mobile app categories.  The percentage of surveyed businesses reporting that they have already deployed a particular mobile software solution (whether as a trial or a full-blown implementation) are as follows:

  • 62% - Wireless email
  • 39% - Access to internal corporate database(s)
  • 32% - Standalone corporate instant messaging
  • 32% - Employee-to-employee social media
  • 31% - Mobile sales force automation
  • 30% - Mobile workforce management
  • 27% - Mobile asset tracking
  • 24% - Mobile supply chain management
  • 23% - M2M remote monitoring and diagnostics
  • 23% - Standalone video capture
  • 20% - Fleet management and tracking

The above ranking is roughly consistent with the 2012 “what’s hot, what’s not” listing of a year ago. However, the percentage of companies that report implementing wireless email – the most mature mobile solution included on our list -- is significantly lower this year.

What are the growth opportunities over the near term?

First, current users expect to expand their app(s) to other employees in their firms.  In this year’s survey, approximately one-third of companies that have already deployed a mobile software application also anticipated expanding these implementations during 2013-2014.

There is also a “planners” segment – those companies that seem to be convinced of the application’s value, but are not planning to introduce the solution for another 1-3 years. Adding these planner opportunities to the current users who state they will be expanding within the next year, new sales opportunities during 2013-2016 can be ranked as follows:

Ranking by % of Businesses Planning to Deploy

  1. Wireless email
  2. Access to internal corporate database(s)
  3. Mobile workforce management
  4. Mobile sales force Automation
  5. Standalone corporate instant messaging
  6. Mobile asset tracking
  7. Employee-to-employee social media
  8. M2M remote monitoring and diagnostics
  9. Mobile supply chain management
  10. Fleet management and tracking
  11. Standalone video capture

Additional survey results are included in our upcoming study, “2013 North American Mobile Enterprise Applications: Opportunities Within Enterprises,” NCA0-65.

Moving to the Cloud with Mobile Apps

30 Dec 2013

Is it any surprise that our August 2013 survey results show businesses moving to the cloud when implementing mobile software applications? Only one-quarter of North American companies report using solely on-premise mobile solutions.

Exhibit 1 lays out the 2012 vs. 2013 responses to this question: “Which of the following best describes your implementation of mobile apps?” We screened out the “Don’t Know” replies and charted what was left over:

  • The percentage of businesses that are only using on-premise server solutions when implementing mobile apps has decreased from 36 percent to 27 percent during the past year. When you slice up these responses, Canadian companies and larger enterprises tend to prefer the purely on-premise approach.
  • The proportion of businesses using only cloud-based mobile apps has increased slightly – from 30 to 33 percent of respondents. Interestingly, this group splits evenly between larger (500+ employees) and SMB (500 or fewer employees) companies. However, in terms of geography, the U.S. businesses are far more likely to fall into this category than their Canadian peers.
  • The percentage of businesses using a mix of on-premise and cloud-based mobile apps also ticked up – from 34 to 40 percent of respondents. These tend to be larger companies, and lean U.S.

The chart illustrates where the 2012 vs. 2013 increases came from in the “all cloud” and “mixed cloud and on-premise” scenarios:

  • Smaller businesses increased their participation in the all-cloud space during the past year – from 32 percent of SMBs in 2012 to 40 percent in 2013.
  • Larger businesses are now more likely to implement a mix of both approaches – from 32 percent of large companies in 2012 to 45 percent in 2013.

Clearly, the benefits of moving to the cloud are receiving more attention from North American businesses interested in deploying mobile software applications. Servers and software don’t have to be purchased outright, which keeps costs down. Instead, the mobile app can be paid for on a per-user, per-month basis – which can translate into much-needed affordability and scalability for companies on the move. Cloud-based solutions also free up a company’s IT team to focus on core priorities, rather than expend time and personnel managing apps on a day-to-day basis.

However, not everyone is convinced that cloud-based applications are preferable. Serious adoption barriers remain. When asked to rate the reasons why they would NOT use cloud-based mobile apps, nearly three-quarters of larger firms are most concerned about data security and loss of internal control. Interestingly, smaller companies agree that data security is their #1 concern with the cloud, however, they rank cost as their second worry. Given the cost benefits of cloud-based apps, this particular response may indicate a need for education on the part of smaller businesses.

The trend is obvious, though. Mobile app vendors who haven’t yet transitioned their solutions to the cloud are falling further and further behind the curve.

Additional survey results and charts are included in our upcoming study: “2013 North American Mobile Enterprise Applications: Opportunities Within Enterprises,” NCA0-65.

 

 

Mobile Worker Applications: Companies Want More and Better

30 Dec 2013

Why are so many companies taking mobile enterprise applications so seriously? Because they anticipate real business benefits.

Each year, Frost & Sullivan surveys 300+ mobile and wireless purchase decision-makers in the North American business sector. Both Canadian and U.S. companies and organizations are asked to detail their preferences and plans around mobile enterprise applications – especially those software solutions that are deployed to employees for use on their mobile devices. Our most recent survey took place in August 2013.

The market for mobile worker apps appears to be thriving. The majority of respondents – 73 percent – already have one or more employee-facing solutions in place, with most of them having from one to 10 software applications deployed to some degree. Thirteen percent (13%) of the total sample said they have 20 or more apps deployed for their workers to use on their mobile handhelds (smartphones, tablets, basic cell phones or ruggedized devices). See Exhibit 1.

This sector has by no means reached its plateau state. When asked to project forward, at least 71 percent of the companies plan to introduce one or more new solutions by late 2014.

We didn’t define specific solutions by name for these early questions, so the respondents could be referencing anything from the simplest mapping products to truly complex in-house solutions. No matter the type, though, we can probably agree that a high percentage of today’s businesses recognize the value of mobile worker software applications.

Why is this? When we asked the companies why they would provide mobile apps to their employees, a number of reasons were given – and the top two focused on anticipated efficiency and productivity gains. See Exhibit 2. Not far behind came the softer – but still highly valuable – advantages of enhanced customer engagement and increased employee collaboration.

In fact, the high ranking given to the customer engagement benefit is one of many indications that today’s business sector is becoming more sophisticated when it comes to mobile worker applications. Many mobile workers function as the company’s front line when interfacing with customers – whether they’re delivering a package, repairing a piece of equipment, or selling a product. Savvy businesses recognize the potential for heightened engagement at this interface point and are leveraging their mobile capabilities to: 1) collect valuable data, such as customer performance feedback and competitive intelligence, 2) provide timely loyalty rewards, such as coupons and discounts, and 3) upsell, based on easily-accessible customer history records.

Businesses are also taking more criteria into consideration when choosing a mobile application partner (it’s more than simply cost of doing business) and they are also demanding more sophisticated functionality from their mobile solutions.

The high percentage of North American businesses that plan to expand their mobile worker application deployments, combined with an increasingly sophisticated set of customer expectations, should make 2014 a good year for mobile application sales.

Additional survey results and charts are included in our upcoming study: “2013 North American Mobile Enterprise Applications: Opportunities Within Enterprises,” NCA0-65.

 

Turning Microsoft Office 365 into a True Small Business Offering: How the Wireless Carriers Each Approach This Challenge

17 Jan 2013

It’s always interesting to see how the wireless carriers go about appealing to the small business market. In our annual surveys, smaller businesses consistently choose the wireless carrier as their preferred mobility/communications partner. Have the carriers really earned that designation – or are they just the default choice?

We’ll dedicate a future post to examining the small business programs of our Tier 1 U.S. carriers in some detail. But today we’ll look at one example of how they each partnered with the exact same technology vendor to offer the exact same technology product … but then “personalized” the SMB offering in their own unique ways.

The solution is the cloud-based Microsoft® Office 365 product, a package of targeted collaboration and productivity capabilities that include:

  • Microsoft Exchange Online – synchronizing email, calendar and contacts across a worker’s computer, phone and browser.
  • Microsoft Office Web Apps – allowing employees to view and make light edits to Microsoft Office documents in the browser, either individually or in tandem with other viewers.
  • Microsoft SharePoint® Online – creating public and private websites and maintaining a file-sharing capability.
  • Microsoft Lync™ Online – furnishing web conferencing and instant messaging.

Microsoft clearly put some thought into which capabilities would be most appreciated by smaller businesses. There doesn’t seem to be any unnecessary padding. And offering Office 365 as a cloud-based service recognizes the financial constraints that small and mid-sized businesses have to deal with on a daily basis. Pricing on Office 365 begins at $6/user/month for its most basic package. Microsoft also offers four other plans, with the top monthly per-user rate being $22.

So what did each of the top three carriers do with this solution?

The side-by-side comparison table below provides the details, however, the three different approaches can be summarized as:

  • AT&T offers four Office 365 plans ($6 - $20 price range), providing its customers with a broad selection to choose from. The carrier also recognizes that smaller businesses rarely have a dedicated IT professional available to handle implementation, so AT&T provides one-on-one onboarding and mailbox migration assistance to those who want it. The onboarding and deployment assistance costs $139.95 per account. The carrier also requires a minimum one-year contract term and minimum one-year renewal. There are no minimum seat requirements. Advanced tech support plans are available for purchase if the customer wants more than the free Tier 0/1/2 24x7 tech support that comes with the subscription. AT&T also offers a 30-day free trial.
  • Sprint offers three of the Office 365 plans ($6 - $20 price range). It also recognizes the need for some expert handholding during the implementation process. Like AT&T, Sprint provides one-on-one onboarding and mailbox migration assistance. However, Sprint takes this one step further and makes their white glove “Carefree Cloud” onboarding service free of charge for the first 90 days after purchase of Office 365. The carrier does not require a minimum contract term and does not require a minimum number of seats. Advanced tech support plans are available for purchase if the customer wants more than the free 0/1/2 24x7 tech support that comes with the subscription. These plans are available at a discount to Office 365 customers.
  • Verizon decided to offer only the most basic Office 365 package (the $6/user/month version) and directs users who need help with that package’s set-up, mailbox migration, etc. to Microsoft. From there, the customer will probably be referred to Microsoft’s self-help portal or to a for-fee certified partner. In terms of contract requirements, Verizon customers don’t have to commit to a minimum contract term or purchase a minimum number of seats – which is good news for the smaller businesses and their tight budgets.  Also, integrated MDM features are included (remote lock and wipe; data retrieval).

We just awarded Sprint the Frost & Sullivan Customer Value Enhancement Award in Mobile Communications and Collaboration based on the excellent job the carrier has done with Office 365 in designing an offer that meets real small business needs. The difference-maker when comparing the three approaches distilled down to affordability – i.e., Sprint’s free-of-charge offer for much-needed onboarding assistance and the absence of minimum contract terms to satisfy. For small businesses, those two benefits can make all of the difference between the decision to buy and the decision to take a pass.

Mobility Partners: North American Businesses Rank Their Options

03 Oct 2012

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.

 

Mobile Applications for Employees: The ROI Disconnect

24 Sep 2012

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.

 

Mobile Applications for Business: What's Hot. What's Not.

30 Aug 2012

In an earlier blog post, we shared survey data that had a full 82% of North American businesses already having at least one mobile application deployed to their employees’ handheld devices. Looking forward over the next twelve months (mid-2012 to mid-2013), 68% of businesses plan to implement one or more additional applications. 9% of the total respondents actually expect to introduce more than ten new solutions during that twelve-month period.

This is obviously a growing market. But just which applications are getting the attention? And which are not?

The research cited was conducted earlier this year by Frost & Sullivan, surveying 300 mobile and wireless decision-makers in the North American business sector. Both Canadian and U.S. companies and organizations were included in this research.

The percentage of respondents reporting that they have already deployed a particular mobile employee-facing software solution (whether as a trial or a full-blown implementation) are as follows:

  • 80% - Wireless email
  • 48% - Access to internal databases
  • 44% - Standalone corporate instant messaging
  • 38% - Mobile sales force automation
  • 37% - Employee-to-employee social media
  • 35% - Mobile workforce management
  • 33% - Machine-to-machine remote monitoring and diagnostics
  • 29% - Mobile asset tracking
  • 27% - Standalone video capture
  • 13% - Fleet tracking and management

Typically, around half of those companies that have already deployed also anticipate expanding their implementations within the following year.

There is also a segment of respondents who are sold on the app’s value proposition, but have not yet gotten around to implementing. These “planners” report that they will be introducing the app for the first time within the next three years. Adding these planner opportunities to those current users who state they will be expanding within the next year, the new deployments opportunity during 2012-2015 can be ranked as follows:

  1. Mobile sales force automation
  2. Access to internal databases
  3. Wireless email
  4. Mobile workforce management
  5. Mobile asset tracking
  6. Standalone corporate instant messaging
  7. Machine-to-machine remote monitoring and diagnostics
  8. Employee-to-employee social media
  9. Standalone video capture
  10. Fleet tracking and management

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

 

Mobile Applications: Businesses are Smitten

15 Aug 2012

Earlier this year, Frost & Sullivan surveyed mobile and wireless purchase decision-makers in the North American business sector. Both Canadian and U.S. companies and organizations were included in this research. Their responses indicated a continuing strong attraction for employee-facing mobile applications.

The mobile enterprise applications market is clearly on a growth trajectory, with at least 68% of the 2012 survey respondents planning to introduce one or more new mobile software solutions on their employees’ mobile handhelds (smartphones, tablets, basic cell phones, and/or ruggedized devices) during the next 12 months.

At the time of the survey (May 2012), the majority of businesses (52%) already had from one to four mobile applications in place for their mobile workers. Another 17% of respondents had between five and ten applications deployed. An additional 13% of businesses had over ten mobile solutions in place, with two-thirds of these heavy users deploying an impressive twenty or more mobile handheld-based applications.

In all, 82% of North American businesses (across all size segments) report having at least one mobile application deployed to their employees’ handheld devices.

When asked to project the volume of new mobile worker software apps to be introduced during the upcoming twelve months (mid-2012 through mid-2013), 68% of businesses planned at least one new introduction. Another 9% of the total respondents expect to introduce more than ten new solutions over that twelve-month period.

This level of mobile software deployment for workers is great news for application developers, mobility platform vendors, and their various channel partners. But it also raises a number of IT and LOB issues, including how to effectively manage the expanding array of solutions. Businesses must also carefully plan how to train employees on these apps. Given the level of cost sensitivity that surfaced with other survey questions, executives must also determine how to measure the business value and benefits of the mobility software.

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

Mobile Devices: A Dangerously Weak Link in mHealth Data Security

31 Jan 2012

Hospitals continue to suffer major data breaches – earning negative headlines and possible costly fines. Their embrace of mobile healthcare (mHealth) solutions is only exacerbating the security risks. So why aren’t more healthcare providers – hospitals, physicians, EMT, etc. – instituting stringent security mechanisms? Especially on their much beloved, but easily misplaced, mobile devices?

One answer seems to be a simple lack of awareness. Traditionally, an IT laggard, the healthcare industry is being driven by HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act) legislation to digitize its health records. Caregivers, in turn, recognize the many benefits of now being able to access these digital records on their mobile devices. Unfortunately, some parties did not seem to realize that new security measures had to be put in place before data could safely go mobile. Mobile devices can be lost, stolen, and hacked.  The result? Vulnerable patient information, vulnerable caregiver information, vulnerable healthcare facility information.

Another reason for the lack of serious mobile security implementations is the perceived cost. However, healthcare providers are realizing fast that stingy upfront budgeting can have costly negative repercussions. Healthcare providers can be fined up to $1.5 million and/or put in prison for up to five years if they do not comply with HIPAA standards for securing and protecting patient data. Under HITECH, they can also lose government funding and be publicly shamed on a list of security breach incidents maintained by the government.

The losses, in terms of both money and professional reputation, can be devastating.

Mobile technology is not going away. The increasing percentage of physicians using smartphones and tablets on the job is clear proof of that. And application developers continue to create fascinating apps that include drug and clinical references, ever more sophisticated diagnostic tools, and real-time patient record-keeping. The genie is out of the bottle. Now mobile devices – both those belonging to the facility and those that are owned by the individual users -- have to be secured.

We had a briefing from the experts at Apriva (www.apriva.com) the other day who described their mobile device security suite – including a two-factor authentication smartcard reader plus software applications for secure email and VoIP calls via the mobile device. Apriva has secured classified government communications for years, and now sees the need for the same high level of security products in the healthcare sector.

The solutions are out there ready to be deployed. Now it's time for healthcare providers to get smart on their security alternatives and loosen the purse strings.

Small Businesses Want Mobile Apps

31 Dec 2011

Earlier this year, Frost & Sullivan surveyed mobile and wireless purchase decision-makers in the North American small and mid-sized business (SMB) segment.  A number of interesting findings surfaced, with all of them pointing to high SMB interest in mobile applications for their remote workers. 

Takeaways included:

The value proposition around mobile enterprise applications is being successfully communicated to today’s small and mid-sized businesses.  In addition, the substantial level of interest in mobility management platform products indicates an increasing level of mobile sophistication in the small and medium business (SMB) sector.

Current mobile application users are very satisfied and represent a significant incremental sales opportunity, with half of current users planning to expand their deployments. Meanwhile, one quarter of SMBs do not currently use, but are planning to introduce, one or more mobile enterprise applications during the 2011-2013 time period. This “Planner” segment is convinced of the benefits of mobile solutions, and now needs to be actively motivated to actually make the purchase.

 

The wireless carrier reigns as the preferred mobile applications partner with the SMB sector. This is not surprising given the high-touch relationship carriers maintain with SMBs.

 

Out-of-box deployments are enjoyed by 24 percent to 35 percent of current users. When faced with a need to customize some aspect of their mobile solution, smaller businesses are more likely to handle this job in-house, rather than employ a third party.

 

Hard-dollar return on investment metrics are noted by current application users. Reduced paperwork and increased worker productivity are cited most frequently.

 

Lastly, SMBs have strong brand preferences in each application category: BlackBerry for mobile office, AT&T and Oracle for mobile sales force automation (SFA), and AT&T for mobile workforce management.

 

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