Changing work styles and consumption patterns have created a huge demand for enterprise mobile applications. Suppliers, partners, employees or customers – everyone is leveraging mobile for on-the-go productivity and real-time communication. Enterprise mobility solutions are the key to working faster and better in a highly competitive marketplace.The mobile era has created innumerable opportunities for enterprise mobility vendors. Correspondingly, the market is flooded with solutions boasting myriad capabilities. How does a CIO choose the best solution for her company? Is the criterion only product capabilities What are the factors that differentiate a quality-focused vendor from the crowd?Consultative conversations, not sales talkThe first indication of a value-focused approach is the quality of your first conversation with the vendor. The key to selling any product is not selling it.The best enterprise mobility vendors are those who listen more and talk less. Most CIOs do their research on the internet so they don’t need to hear about your product features. What’s more helpful is an open, no strings attached discussion on the needs of your organization and team, challenges, and your expectations from the solution and vendor.

Only then comes the next step – matching requirement with product capabilities.

12 Questions for CIOs to Evaluate Enterprise Mobile Solutions & Vendors

Here goes:

1. Security of data and device

What is the level of security that comes with the application? Ask about:

  • Content privacy and security – applying DRM to proprietary or copyrighted content
  • Secure data storage (encryption) on device
  • Secure data transmission
  • User authentication
  • User access control
  • Anti-theft or device loss measures such as remote data wiping

2. Application extensibility and integration

  • Will your application integrate with existing enterprise systems such as an HRMS, LDAP, CMS or LMS?
  • Does the application use APIs for easy integration?
  • If yes, are these open or public APIs? The idea is to avoid vendor lock-in.

3. Application and device management

  • Can the enterprise mobility solution be managed via the existing MDM solution?
  • Can device registration for the app, app rollouts and updates be controlled from a central place
  • How easy or difficult is it to ensure adherence to company policies?

4. Customizability

  • What levels of customizability are offered in the enterprise product?
  • Is white labeling possible?
  • Can workflows in the app be tweaked to align with business processes? This may or may not be needed based on the function of the application.

5. Device fragmentation

  • How does the application vendor manage device fragmentation – operating system (OS) version differences?
  • If the application does not work with an older version of a supported OS, what can the vendor do?
  • What are the operating systems supported by the enterprise mobility solution?

6. User segmentation or User Access Control

  • Can the same application be deployed across departments?
  • Does the CMS have user access control so information can be shared or restricted per need? This is a critical feature as it eliminates redundant work and data storage.

7. Technical knowledge and staff requirements

  • Is the installation and usage of the application simple and user-friendly?
  • Do I need technical staff for the operation, administration, and management of the solution?
  • Does the application support remote access to the administration console?

8. Analytics & level of granularity

  • Does the solution deliver analytics?
  • Are the analytics visual and easy to understand?
  • What kind of analytics is provided – usage, content consumption, devices used, engagement, etc.?

9. Scalability and pricing

  • Can the solution deployment be scaled up quickly?
  • How much cost increase can I expect if users are added?

10. Customer support

  • What kind of customer support does the vendor offer?
  • Are there SLAs?
  • Is the support available onsite or remotely?

11. Training

  • Does the vendor provide training on the application?
  • What levels of training – administrative, installation, operational, etc.?
  • If handholding becomes a need (where users are not technology users), can the vendor provide it?
  • Is the training onsite or remote?

12. References

Last but not the least, ask for references of the vendor’s clients.

Questions may vary based on the type and size of the organization but these make a good starting point. CIOs must seek these answers early in the sales conversation so they can take an informed decision and choose the right enterprise mobility vendor for their company.