Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mobile Data Collection is a Different Breed of Mobile Application

There is a whole category of mobile applications that is easy to overlook.  It is the mobile data collection category.  Many of these solutions are project specific.  That means a large utility, contractor or government agency needs to collect data on mobile devices in the field for a project, but there is no existing databases to store this data and/or to create reports on it.

When I was the CEO of a mobile software company I was surprised by how much database work my team ended up doing.  We were a mobile applications company, but since there were no existing backend database applications to store the data, we ended up developing those as well.  Once the database was developed, our customers would often want browser access and reports.  Good development work, but it could quickly divert your focus away from mobility.

Systems Integrators may want to recognize this market.  Specialty companies like Mobile Epiphany are dedicated to developing and providing mobile solutions that help systems integrators quickly deliver mobile data collection and inspection applications.  They have a complete program in place to help systems integrators and resellers quickly supply mobile data collection and inspection solutions with their Touch Inspect solution.

What is different about this category?  The mobile applications are often NOT connected to an ERP.  Even companies that have ERPs often don't connect inspection and mobile data collection applications to them.  The mobile applications are often connected to custom databases.  I personally was involved in the following kinds of custom mobile data collection applications:
  1. Power pole inspections
  2. Bridge building inspections (200 mobile inspections)
  3. Food processor quality and health and safety inspection applications (600 mobile users)
  4. Mobile automotive dent repair (200 mobile users)
  5. Disaster assessment and inspections
  6. Water conservation inspections (3,000 mobile users)
  7. Electrical conservation inspections
  8. Cattle inspections and vet inspections
  9. etc
 There is an unlimited number of these kinds of applications which is what makes this market both challenging and interesting.  I would suggest that systems integrators should have at least one mobile data collection solution lined up so they can quickly and cost effectively deliver mobile data collection solutions when their existing clients ask for them.

Kevin Benedict, SAP Mentor, SAP Top Contributor, Mobile and M2M Industry Analyst
Phone +1 208-991-4410
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Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility consultant, mobility analyst, writer and Web 2.0 marketing professional. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.