Despite signs that enterprises are struggling to make their workforces truly mobile, there are signs that Canadian organizations are stealthily making significant investments to push the mobility strategies forward.

Recently released research, IDC MarketScape: Canadian Custom Mobile Applications, Business and IT Consulting, and Systems Integration 2016 Vendor Assessment, evaluates custom mobile applications and services vendors serving Canadian businesses. This IDC MarketScape is actually the first for this segment, said Sanjay Khanna, senior analyst for enterprise mobility at the research firm.

The report measures the capabilities among IT vendors that provide mobility-related custom application development, business and IT consulting, and systems integration services and describes their qualifications to meet unique Canadian marketplace needs. It found that vendors are addressing increased buyer demand to use enterprise mobility-related applications and services to improve operational performance, workforce productivity, and digital engagement.

“Canadian organizations have been very quiet about what they are doing around mobility,” said Khanna. “We haven’t got the full story yet.” This is primarily for competitive reasons as companies are making investments significant enough that could be disruptive and give them significant competitive advantage, he said. “That’s why it’s been hard to get under the covers of the space.”

What the research did find was that the market for mobility-related services and solutions is more competitive than ever, and vendor capabilities are world class, offering the potential to do more than Canadian organizations can take advantage of, in part because of a lack of clarity around business benefits that can be realized from mobility-led digital transformation.

“There are strong vendors in the marketplace,” said Khanna. Among them are high profile ones, including TCS, IBM, EY and Capgemini, which IDC has placed in the “leaders” category. Plastic Mobile and L&T Infotech were highlighted in the “major players category.”

Meanwhile, IDC Canada found that innovation labs, hubs, or collaborative spaces are becoming go-to venues for vendors and customers to envision, design, prototype, and initiate industrialized development of complex custom mobile enterprise solutions.

Khanna said there has been a perception that Canadian organizations are behind when it comes to enterprise mobility and mobile applications, but those that are bringing in vendors are spending money to get ahead of competitors. There are some companies that are being quite aggressive,” he said. “Research shows there is solid year over year growth of custom mobile applications and systems integration.”

Mobile application development is a mix of feature-rich custom applications as well as the rapid development of task-based applications, said Khanna, such as creating the capability to add a signature within an existing workflow to better mobilize it. “These things are happening in parallel,” he said. “It’s not either or.”

There is also a combination of internal and external resources being leveraged, said Khanna. “Intriguingly, the Canadian organizations with best internal development resources may be the ones taking the most advantage of external application developers for this work.”

He said Canadian organizations need to take stock of vendors in the marketplace and see how they can partner them with to take advantage of expertise that’s out there. “It behooves Canadian organizations to really understand this space because this an area you need to excel in to be a truly digitally transformed organization.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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