Guest Column | April 2, 2014

Opportunity In Disguise: Two Statements That Spell Disaster For Mobility ISVs

Disaster For Mobility ISVs

By Steve Sager, CEO, ExtenData

Running a mobile supply chain solutions company requires continually watching for changes and opportunities. So far this year, during meetings with customers and prospects, two statements have been etched in my mind.

  1. A new crop of young, talented kids can develop and distribute software for little to no cost. In addition, the costs for devices and their carrier networks continue to decrease — rapidly.
  2. The only way a technology initiative will succeed is by executive level endorsement and support.

Statement number one was made by the CEO of a $100 million company. As a business owner, he is eager and can see how mobile applications will transform his business. He is equally excited that the cost and resources to make this transformation a reality is simple and inexpensive. 

Statement number two was made by the leaders of information systems in a billion dollar organization. This team is responsible for the successful planning, implementation, adoption, and support of all mobile applications for the enterprise. They are immersed in supporting legacy solutions, standards that have been around as long as the most tenured employee, and handling the exponential growth of requests for new applications.

The irony of these two conflicting “realities” is obvious only to the outside observer. 

The CEO has an expectation that his company’s mobile network carrier will give him his devices for free, and a teenager can build him the mobile applications he needs. 

For the same application, the IT folks will require integration to their ERP, WMS, transportation management, and data warehouse system. They are looking for a mobile software framework that can change with their business needs. IT has determined there are no off-the-shelf software packages for the needs of the business. The expected cost? IT estimates $300,000 in internal resources, $150,000 in software and professional services, and an implementation time frame of 12 to 18 months. Total cost is one million dollars.

The irony of these two conflicting “realities” can be perceived as a challenge that lacks value to overcome. However, if you are in the game of providing solutions for the mobile supply chain, the opportunity has never been greater. Bridging the gap between the C-Level leaders and information technology groups is an opportunity for mobility ISVs to generate clear and tangible value for the customer. How the bridge is built will determine the level of success for an ISV. This requires attention to a critical third player, the mobile user. After all, what is a mobile supply chain solution if it doesn’t help the mobile user become more efficient and successful? What is a solution if it doesn’t overcome a challenge? What is a unique opportunity if it is apparent to all involved?

Steve Sager, is the CEO, co-founder and president of ExtenData. Sager has over 27 years of mobile supply chain, mobile computing, and mobile printing experience. Follow his Mobility and Supply Chain Solutions blog at .