Mobile Is Set to Get Hotter
Businesses in the United States are projected to shell out about $9 billion on mobile applications, including CRM, ERP, email, SMS/text messaging, project management, collaboration, and security offerings, by 2011, according to research by Compass Intelligence, a consulting and market analytics company. The market, which is expected to reach $3.8 billion this year, is set for double-digit annual uptake into 2011; the company predicts that U.S. annual growth rates for mobile apps will stretch from 20 percent to 37 percent from 2006 to 2011.
There are several factors driving growth in mobile from a business end-user standpoint, according to Stephanie Atkinson, managing partner and principal analyst at Compass Intelligence. "The need to access day-to-day applications from remote locations or from mobile devices, the need to collaborate and share files with coworkers across the globe, the growing demand to have better productivity tools remotely, and lastly the general growth in mobile and remote workers drives the need for remote/mobile applications across businesses and industries," she says.
Enterprises are expected to spend the most on mobile applications from 2006 to 2011 (41.5 percent), just barely surpassing small businesses (38.1 percent). Midsize businesses are forecasted to spend significantly less (15.9 percent), while small office/home office businesses are expected to be the smallest spenders (4.5 percent). When segmented by industry, the professional services and government verticals are expected to spend the most this year, 37 percent and 27 percent respectively.
The projected growth is noteworthy, but there has been talk in the industry around issues that have kept mobile apps from gaining widespread adoption in the business world. Some of these issues include the lack of meaningful business application offers in the market and the lack of specialized mobile applications for specific industries such as government, healthcare, and professional services, according to Atkinson. However, she says service providers and vendors are recognizing the needs of business users and making changes to introduce a number of mobile application offerings.
"Companies such as AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and Sprint Nextel already have seen this need and are developing mobile application offers. Working with companies such as Salesforce.com, IBM, HP, and other major players will be attractive for the future growth of this market," Atkinson says. Security is another issue. "IT departments are hesitant to implement any mobile applications without proven security that protects the home network and the user's device."
When it comes to CRM specifically, Atkinson points out some of the mobile CRM applications used today primarily. They revolve around areas like contact management, calendar management, remote access to in-house CRM applications and databases, client management, account management, meeting organizers, support management, SFA, and field service management. However, we should expect many vendors to be getting into the game, "including device manufacturers, such as BlackBerry, Palm, and Motorola; the wireless service providers; the large technology vendors, such as IBM and HP; and of course the software/application vendors providing things such as CRM and ERP," she says.
The biggest takeaway from the research is that there is huge opportunity in the mobile applications market for multiple vendors, from wireless service providers to the device manufacturers, Atkinson says. "The biggest challenge will be understanding the business end-user's needs and desires when it comes to mobile applications, and this will need to be carefully examined and understood across different sizes of business and across various industries."
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