Mobile Application Partners: Who Do Businesses Prefer?

Sep 28, 2015

The majority of North American companies prefer to work with an outside expert when selecting and implementing mobile software applications.  However, just who they want to partner with is changing. And this shift in preference may be troubling to wireless carriers.

According to the latest Frost & Sullivan Mobile Enterprise Apps survey of businesses*, only 16% of respondents prefer not to use a partner at all when evaluating and deploying a particular business app – and these independent sorts were primarily very small firms (1-24 employees).  The remaining 84% of companies typically opt for some outside assistance.

The top three mobility partner choices in 2015 are major corporate software vendors (such as Oracle, Salesforce, or ClickSoftware), wireless carriers, and systems integrators.  In past years, when survey respondents could check any number of preferred partners, the carriers enjoyed a strong #1 ranking. When limited to one top choice in 2015, wireless carriers are now relegated to second place, far behind the major CSVs and virtually tied with systems integrators.

A breakdown of preferences by size of company is enlightening.  SMBs (small and mid-sized businesses) used to be strong supporters of the wireless carrier option, however they now favor carriers by only a small margin. 

Large companies are also experiencing a shift in preferences.  In earlier surveys, they were just as likely to seek out a carrier, a major CSV, or an integrator.  Now, when limited to one partner selection, they break strongly in favor of the CSVs.

These numbers should be good news for the big software vendors who, until recently, were extremely desktop-oriented.  The more forward-thinking vendors have spent quite a bit of time and money attempting to mobilize their software apps to allow business customers to relay real-time information and assistance to consumer and employee smartphones, tablets and even wearables.  While not exactly “mobile first,” they’re at least making enough progress to impress today’s business customers.

On the other hand, these survey responses should be concerning to North American wireless carriers. Yes, no matter who sells the app, it’s going to use the carriers’ network.  However, a weakening in direct influence and customer relationships can translate into decreased revenue opportunities overall.  No one wants to just be a pipe.

What are businesses looking for in a mobile solutions partner?  The top selection criteria demonstrate that customers understand what’s involved in deploying a successful app:

  • Post-sales service and support capability
  • Quality of mobile application portfolio
  • Professional service capability
  • Experience integrating apps with back-office systems
  • Experience with customizing mobile applications
  • Cost of doing business

While still important, the actual cost of doing business factors much less heavily into the mobile app partner selection process.


*2015 North American Mobile Enterprise Applications: Opportunities Within Enterprises, NFB4-65, Frost & Sullivan, October 2015.

Additional discussion regarding carrier strategies can be found in “Wireless Carrier Strategies in the Mobile B2E Applications Sector,” 9838-65, Frost & Sullivan, September 2015.

Jeanine Sterling


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