This week I’ve had some very good discussions with clients about MEAP solutions. I made a comment on my LinkedIn page that has generated some discussion on what exactly is a MEAP solution.

First of all let’s define MEAP. MEAP stands for Mobile Enterprise Application Platform. A mobile enterprise platform basically provides the tools, in one platform set, that allow a customer to develop and deploy multiple mobile applications that may run on multiple mobile device types. It also allows the users to synchronize data between multiple backend systems leveraging a variety of network connectivity options – cell, 802.11, TCP/IP, etc.

Good examples of strong mobile application platform providers in my opinion are Sybase, Antennae Software, MobileFrame, Syclo and a new player in the space MobileEpiphany.

MEAP solutions are particularly powerful in large enterprises with significant numbers of mobile workers. Characteristics of the environments are diverse applications, a wide variety of communication methods and diverse business segments that may or may not overlap.

While the majority of MEAPs provide a deep tool chest with feature sets like; mobile Device Management, device monitoring, application development, deployment tools and database integration tools, many leverage common development platforms like .NET, Java and Objective C. This allows organizations steep with veteran programmers an environment that they can easily step into to start developing and deploying mobile applications.

With over 50% of Enterprise IT departments supporting multiple mobile operating systems the consideration for MEAP solutions is more significant than ever. It is not uncommon to see environments requiring a Tablet PC, Ruggedized PDA and standard PDA. In fact I would say it is more of the norm. For example our team developed a mobile solution that comprised 3 mobile applications each optimized for a particular business segment and device OS. Leveraging MEAP we were able to develop, deploy and manage applications based on device type and user roles while aggregate data from disparate data resources, including GIS data, into one central manageable repository.

We are hearing a great deal of discussion about fragmentation of the mobile market. In our experience mobile enterprise application platforms diminish and often eliminate the impact of previously disparate and fragmented systems.  For those organizations that need to have multiple applications available on a wide variety of different device types and operating systems, with the need to extend data out into the field, and back to the office quickly, efficiently, and accurately a MEAP solution should be the first place you look.

Author: Jody Sedrick – CEO, Zenware