Innovation, cost optimization, operational efficiency, customer satisfaction and differentiation are terms on the top of every company's list these days, industry and vertical notwithstanding. And increasingly, companies are turning to mobile technology to get an edge in these areas.
The price factor of devices, higher device capability and processing power as network ubiquity has developed, have come together to create an environment that is conducive for the adoption of enterprise mobility solutions.
A market backgrounder
To track and analyze the trajectories of the many companies operating in this space, NASSCOM and Frost and Sullivan have jointly created a Product Excellence Matrix (PEM) that tracks Indian product companies in the Enterprise Mobility area. The PEM provides a clear picture of the growth drivers and opportunities in the market for enterprise mobility, which globally stands at over $200 million (including BYOD enabling applications).
The PEM indicates that companies in the space are very young, with 80% having launched their solutions after 2010. It is also a highly fragmented market with numerous companies focused on niche markets, typically with revenues south of INR 5 Crore.
60% of the enterprise mobility products developed in India focus on vertical specific/ business function specific applications. This reflects a reality where the mobility game has gone beyond just connectivity for employees and enterprises, and is now a factor in organizations' strategic goal making and implementation. "Mobile devices are becoming the primary screen for most people, and everyone today knows their way around a cell phone" says Nikhil Nath, Founder and CEO of Knowcross, one of the firms cited as an exemplar (displaying a compelling value proposition aligned to the market, well-defined growth strategy and successful execution) in the report.
What do the vendors cater to?
While catering to a broad range of industries and business functions, enterprise mobility players tend to focus on creating platform agnostic, network agnostic, and back-end agnostic solutions so as to expand capabilities for fetching data from multiple systems. Mohammed Rijas of Attinad, a Thiruvananthapuram based company that features in the PEM as another exemplar, points to their platform being "agnostic at the back end - it can talk to both home grown and specific solutions", thereby making it useable with any SAP or CRM system. "Our middleware works on removing the last mile disconnects between field user and back end" says Rijas. Such transferability is key for success.
The Power of a Mobile Workforce
Mobile workforce centric applications are a key focus area for enterprise mobility players, the PEM points out. Knowcross' Nath, whose TRITON platform is deployed in hotels worldwide, feels that mobile networks are ubiquitous and when coupled with the fact that one can buy a smart phone for under $ 100, this makes the reach of mobile workforce solutions expansive and accessible.
Until recently that was not the reality, which is why Knowcross waited in the wings until device costs went down and Wifi connectivity became ubiquitous. "We chose not to jump in 3-4 years ago, and waited for the market to ripen", states Nath. As a result of general consumer awareness, reduced price points of devices, data connectivity on the floor and less clunky device availability, the solutions are now proliferating. "Productivity gains will make up for the cost of the device, 10 times over," proclaims Nath, what with line staff receiving real time updates and instructions and thus their "productivity increases between 20-40% just because they don't have to run around for the information". Workflow is optimized through the system and work allocation and parcelling takes places in a "hyper efficient way", he adds. One client in the UK, the largest player in outsourced hotel cleaning, has deployed Knowcross's solution to increase productivity, and reaps significant benefits, as it charges for each room cleaned while paying employees by the hour. Knowcross now has over 200 clients and 20,000 users, with significantly higher revenues than the average for the PEM companies in the report.
"We approached everything from a mobile first perspective and by harnessing the best of mobile, with its GIS capabilities" says FieldEZ Founder & CEO, Balasubramanyam Mohan, whose product enables business processes to be on-boarded and taken mobile. Software firms in the space also know that building rich, domain specific applications is the way forward, and are thus going into verticals to incorporate industry specific functionalities, processes and best practices. One such case in point is Attinad, which offers a Mobility Consulting Framework. "We become "true partners to the organization, talking to IT directors, CIOs and helping them roll out their mobility framework. We have a mobile ROI calculator, and once you have the framework in place, it lays down the roadmap and you know what your three year plan is" explains Rijas. The company has a focus on the oil and gas, telecom and healthcare verticals, and plans to expand the same.
The way forward
There will be accelerated mobility adoption as the ecosystem continues to transform. We will see collaborative ecosystems and the maturing of apps, with a managed enterprise mobility environment. Vertical spread and domain relevance will continue to gain in importance, as will geo spatial functionalities. Incorporating ‘Do It Yourself' capabilities will also become de rigueur so that there is easy out of the box usability, and "the power is with the end user, who has configurability options", states Rijas, something Attinad's middleware already incorporates. Easy integrations with disparate back end systems, something all three exemplars have as part of their solutions, will also gain ubiquity. As Mohan puts it: "our product offers complete service and sales force automation - we always tell our customers: "re-imagine what you can do." The product allows any business to on-board its business process and takes it mobile, augmenting and not necessarily replacing the existing CRM.
Even in such a highly fragmented space with multiple players, the PEM indicates that there is room for everyone to grow; such is the potential and need for applications in an increasingly mobile hungry work force. Specialized services that cater to business verticals will help expand the market further. Niche services and providing the right fit solutions, with mobile capabilities that refine the way businesses operate, will lead the way forward and as the young companies mature, so will their offerings.