Enterprise Mobile GIS Software Functionality

The following is a best features/drawbacks from my experience in trying to find a suitable mobile platform for the Enterprise.Things have come a long way in the mobile enterpriseI define Enterprise Mobile GIS software as a robust field software with the added benefit of synchronizing over a network connection. Other software that you need to dock via usb and synchronize can be great and robust too, but given the times we live in this should be the core feature of any Enterprise Mobile GIS Solution.I'm only taking a small sample from Esri, Trimble, and Fulcrum. There are more out there, and I'd like to hear about them.EsriEsri gets the largest write up, not only because they have the most software, but also because this is where I play the most. If the tone is critical, it's because I'm passionate about its success. The ArcGIS Platform in regards to mobile is broad. But given the number of offerings, it is bordering on becoming completely fragmented and lacking a clear message across all available Operating Systems. Right now you can choose from ArcPad, ArcGIS for Windows Mobile on Windows Mobile, ArcGIS for Windows Mobile on Windows OS, ArcGIS for Android, ArcGIS for iOS, ArcGIS for Windows Phone, and Collector for Android, Collector for iOS. Making software across multiple platforms does not make a solution fragmented. What makes a solution fragmented is attempting to address multiple platforms and not having a focused, homogeneous functionality matrix across it. ArcGIS for Windows Mobile & ArcPadBest FeaturesThe biggest differentiator for my current Enterprise (and most would  probably argue) is disconnected editing. This feature is only found in ArcGIS for Windows Mobile or ArcPad, which only works on Windows OS, and Windows Mobile. If you want disconnected editing out of the box in this ecosystem, you can't find it in any other fashion within this offering. DrawbacksNo one buys this hardware any more. Everyone wants an iPad or to use their smartphone. The tablets for this are either not able to be ruggedized, lacking a true NMEA GPS beyond windows location api, or are way to expensive if they check all of the boxes. ArcPad is a relic that less and less people want to use. It works great for editing in the field, but its connection to 10.2 web adapters is tricky, and not something I'm comfortable deploying. ArcGIS for iOS, Android, and Windows PhoneBest featuresThe UI is consistent and the functionality is consistent across the offering. It's easy to use. It really just works. You can configure your web adapter in ArcGIS for Server to act as your mobile content server. All you need is some json code and you are up and running with whatever security scheme you have implemented in your enterprise. #awesomeDrawbacksNo disconnected editing. So you are really limited to the geographies where you have a constant connection. It makes for a really great demo when you're connected. But makes no sense off the grid, where the majority of collection really happens. Unfortunately, they haven't had any plans of expanding this app to accept disconnected editing. Which makes it an incomplete offering. The lack of documentation for utilizing your own ArcGIS Mobile Content server is buried within one pdf that you can link to through an FAQ on the mobile site at resources.arcgis.com. MAPS.pdf.Collector on Android & iOSBest feature(s)The promise of disconnected editing. DrawbacksWhy release a product who's first release only had the capability to collect point geometry, when you had a 75% complete software in the native ArcGIS App for Smartphones and Tablets? At the UC last year, the Product Managers signaled that Collector (available on iOS, Android) would provide disconnected editing in the next release. They have since backpedaled and we'll have to wait until next January for 10.2.1-- which will be the better part of a year since they announced it at the UC last year. http://blogs.esri.com/esri/arcgis/2013/10/10/collector-v10-2-is-coming-soon/Collector also necessitates ArcGIS online, ArcGIS for Organizations, or Portal for ArcGIS account. So be prepared to pay a premium if you don't want your data to be exposed in a public cloud. The concern with this release is why would you start a brand new piece of software when the Native ArcGIS for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone was only missing the disconnected editing feature? With this release the alarming trend is that mobile software from this vendor is getting to 75%, then it's off to the next shiny object. Trimble TeraFlexBest FeaturesTheir Enterprise Solution called TeraFlex is simply awesome and has great potential. This is far from a fragmented strategy. The UI and functionality matrix is actually homogeneous regardless if you are on Android, iOS, or even Windows Mobile (other vendors should take note). The price-point is cheap as well. It offers disconnected editing to boot. Let's not forget it's offered by Trimble, so there's sure to be some future incentive to weave this into their hardware scheme-- for which you can count on quality.DrawbacksFor me this is almost enterprise right now. It necessitates the use of the Trimble cloud to act as the middle man between you and the data. Real-time integration into their cloud would be tough to maneuver and might not be the mission of this software solution right now. Because of the low price point, it's natural that Trimble's first aim is to capture the low-end market. I'm praying that bringing a 100% self-hosted enterprise solution is on the horizon, with the support for your own tiles to boot. And if that's the case, I'm all in.FulcrumBest FeaturesRobust online form creation. Low cost. Integration of your own tiles. A REST API that allows you to hook into their cloud with your own data sources to accommodate a real-time workflow. You get the same experience across multiple platforms with this software as well.DrawbacksNo support for lines or polygons. They even went as far as to make a blog post defending this stance. Telling customers why they don't need a feature in software in this fashion might be considered condescending. Utilities, oil and gas, and environmental customers all need to collect these geometries in the field. On a positive note, I have heard that they are testing this, and it will be offered in the future when they get it right.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------In conclusionThis is not an attempt to rank software, these are just my summations (personal opinions) thus far. I'm sure there is other software out there, and I'd love to learn about it. I blog so that I can share what I got right, and learn from the things I got wrong or missed.Trimble and Fulcrum have a laser focus on the critical elements across platforms from a product management standpoint. That is a disruptive thing to other vendors that might have too many offerings, lack consistency in critical elements, and spend too much time offering new semi-functional redundancies in software every year; when they should spend time completing the software that works, and sun-setting the software that does not.