Our good friends in Stamford Connecticut did a great job in identifying and classifying the vendors who have brought a mix of solutions to the market that can be summarized as "mobile enterprise application platforms" or MEAPs - the core/primary capabilities that have been established are:
Rapid Application Development Tools: Drag-and-drop WYSIWYG design tools (including emulators/debuggers) with robust cross-platform/device support
Management and Security: Client-side security features with enterprise-grade encryption - along with management capabilities that include - application deployments, updates, reporting/analytics and mobile policies
Application Integration: The ability to integrate with a variety of "back-ends" referring to not only databases, but web services, proprietary/legacy systems as most importantly enterprise application suites such as SAP, Oracle, Microsoft etc.
HTML5: As ratification inches along, trends like Webkit standardization and a burgeoning developer community that is hungry to experiment and capitalize on the mobile "web app" market opportunity that HTML5 bringsare helping to move HTML5 apps forward. Our view is that HTML5 apps are elegant and service a purpose, however we don't see them usurping/replacing native applications. HTML5 apps are emerging as an important and complimentary element to MEAP vendor offerings as moving forward we see customers requiring both native and HTML5 apps and having a multi-pronged app strategy (more on this concept in future blog posts) - this is part of the "long tail" concept that we outlined in our research last year.
b2e App Stores: While businesses are still in the early stages of formulating mobile strategies, we believe that once they are fully formed, business-to-employee (B2E) app stores will naturally and quickly become a ‘must have’ feature on corporate intranets and as native apps on mobile devices for organizations of all sizes. SAP/Sybase plans to release a significant number of native mobile applications (~30) in the coming months and their strategy makes it clear that they see managing applications as a required element to provide to their customers along with their other platform capabilities - other MEAP vendors see the opportunity as well, and have either already built b2e app store functionlity into their platform, or are preparing (or looking to partner) to provide their customers with this capability.
Mobile Banking: Mobile commerce and banking have arrived - NFC capability will be featured every modern mobile OS by the end of 2012 - MEAPs like Kony Solutions have made significant headway and have caught up quickly to competitors like Sybase, Antenna and Pyxis who have long focused on the financial services vertical.
Vertical Market and Application Integration Expertise: Human capital has long been recognized as indispensible and a key differentiator to enter into specific vertical markets with a cogent and credible marketing campaign. MEAPs have been hiring key personnel to spearhead specific vertical market initiatives - our view is that these investments are currently and will continue to bear fruit. Integration (implementation) and application consulting expertise in areas such as SOA and web services will also be key as legacy applications will continue to be modernized as IT budgets begin to open up.
The Channel and Partnerships are Critical
The channel opportunity for MEAP vendors is significant; with the solutions well positioned for white label arrangements with vendors with well established customer bases (i.e., systems integrators and mobile operators). We have recently seen AT&T move in this direction - the company currently works with four prominent MEAP vendors (Antenna Software, Pyxis Mobile, Spring Wireless and Kony Solutions). Recently AT&T began offering Pyxis' solutions via a managed service - this is evidence not only of maturing channels, but is strong evidence supporting the point that MEAPs need to expand their range of capabilities.
Another important trend is the activities of ISVs - SAP (via Sybase), Oracle, Microsoft and MicroStrategy (and others) have mobile application platforms as well - moving forward they will try take more ownership of their customers (both for control and profit). Finaly, we see carriers and integrators moving in this direction as well (Infosys and SK C&C are prime examples).
MEAP vendors have oppporunities in front of them to partner with a broad range of complimentary mobility oriented ISVs - while this has already begun in a meaningful way, there are potential partnerships that have yet to be recognized that we see as beneficial for MEAPs to see the market traction that they have yet to see.
We are in the final stages of our research on MEAPs and plan on publishing a comprehensive report on this segment later this month. If you want to talk MEAPs, ping me! I'm @eakleiner on Twitter.