“Enterprise Mobile Platforms” refer to a set of technologies that provide capabilities for mobile application development as well as many other post-deployment services required by those apps. Think of them as a kind of "mobile portal platform" for your B2E and B2C initiatives.
And much like portals, we find in our research that enterprises often use multiple such platforms. Some of this you can attribute to enterprises still experimenting as the market evolves. Sometimes an enterprise takes a siloed approach to mobile development and middleware, which leads to multiple solutions.
But we often see valid justifications as well. The truth is that there is a staggering variety of mobile use cases for the enterprise. In our evaluation research (to be released later this week) we make it easy to analyze the use cases against a spectrum of business purposes ranging from Business to Consumer (B2C)-oriented and Business to Employee (B2E)-oriented scenarios. As you might imagine, the functional emphasis and technical services required for B2C use case differs from those required for B2E.
For instance, you may want your marketing app to go viral and so require some social media integration. If it goes viral, then you want to be able to scale quickly and gracefully, requiring very specific kinds of underlying architecture and infrastructure support.
In contrast, on the B2E side you’re likely to have a better idea about how many employees will potentially use an app. But you'll probably need to integrate these apps with diverse types of enterprise systems and that brings challenges of its own. This is just an illustration of the differences in functionality and the attendant requirements for an enterprise mobile platform.
Explicitly stated or not, vendors too specialize in particular use cases -- their marketing pitches notwithstanding. For instance, products from vendors like appMobi, July Systems, Service2Media, and Corona have a B2C flavor. On the other hand, vendors like IBM, SAP, Verivo, and Motorola RhoMobile have a B2E bias.
Now let's return to the question posed in the title of this post. Large enterprises usually have to support a portfolio of apps and mobile web experiences, some of them B2C and some B2E. If a single vendor does not effectively support both sets of use cases then you will likely want to pursue a best-of-breed strategy and pick a vendor for each type of use case.
Of course, this is not unique to the mobile marketplace. For instance, in the enterprise collaboration and social software space too, enterprises choose one product for internally oriented use cases and another one for external use cases.
Bottom Line: When planning your enterprise mobile apps strategy, be prepared that you’ll potentially have to invest and build capabilities in more than one enterprise mobile platform.
And if you want to know which ones could best fit your needs, consult our evaluation of 21 major Enterprise Mobile Platform vendors.