The Next Phase of Mobile Evolution
In the last six years, enterprise mobility has evolved at a lightning pace and will continue to do so in the predictable future, Mobile Evolution. Although smartphones have been around since the late 1990s, it wasn’t until 2008, with the blockbuster success of the iPhone and the launch of the iOS App Store, that we finally saw a shift towards leveraging smartphones beyond playing games. Employees started using their personal devices to accomplish work-related tasks, giving rise to the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomena.
Initially, the primary focus was to gain access to company email, calendars, and contacts. IT departments concerned with security, however, demanded complete control of the devices accessing their corporate network. At the time, several marketplace vendors offered just the thing—Mobile Device Management (MDM). MDM solutions quickly became the go-to fix for organizations looking to roll out a BYOD program. But as employees’ needs grew beyond corporate email and BYOD continued to gain popularity, MDM solutions were deemed too heavy-handed. MDM vendors continued to enhance their offerings to accommodate the market’s changing needs alongside new vendors introducing more up-to-date solutions. In the span of a few years, a variety of point solutions flooded the mobile space – Mobile Application Management (MAM), Dual Personas/Containerization solutions, Virtualization solutions, Mobile Enterprise Application Platforms (MEAP), Telecom Expense Management (TEM), Mobile Content Management (MCM), Mobile Information Management (MIM), and many more.
As organizations experimented with one or more of these solutions they came to realize enterprise mobility called for more than an amalgam of point solutions; it required a platform capable of tackling the entirety of enterprise mobility’s challenges. Enter: Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solutions. Today, vendors are adapting to the changing needs of organizations—some organically, others through mergers and acquisitions. If the last couple of years are any indication, we are starting to see a massive consolidation in the mobile space across all disciplines and 2014 will be no different. With VMware kicking things off in style by acquiring AirWatch for $1.54 billion, we offer these takeaways outlined by our very own, Glenn Gruber, along with some highlights from the last few years:
According to ABI Research, enterprise mobility management services, which include services to manage mobile apps, devices, content, network services, expenses, policy, and security, will grow to a staggering $11 billion worldwide by 2016. Large vendors such as IBM, SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, Dell, and Citrix are capitalizing on this trend. As the mobility market matures, these large vendors will continue to refine their mobility offerings by acquiring smaller companies with the intent of providing their customers value across the entire value chain. This is ultimately beneficial as customers will no longer have to monitor and maintain multiple point solutions, but will instead be afforded a single dashboard view into the organization’s mobile environment. However, this also creates risk for organizations looking to partner with vendors (even more so for those who have already partnered with one of the smaller vendors). Organizations that have purchased solutions from smaller vendors may be forced to reconsider their alternatives, placing undue pressure on IT.
When evaluating a vendor, here are a few things to consider:
- Vendor Stability – Vendors with a solid history in offering enterprise-grade mobile solutions are probably a safer bet than ones that are just getting started.
- Product Vision/Roadmap – It is important to understand the vendor’s current offerings and whether their product vision and roadmap falls in line with the organization’s needs.
- Portfolio of Customers – Vendors with a strong portfolio of customers are more likely to triumph over ones that are lacking.
- Support – It is also crucial to understand the level of support a vendor provides pre and post sale. Organizations must pay close attention to the SLAs in vendor contracts to avoid any misunderstandings down the road.
- Exit Strategy – Most important (yet often overlooked), organizations need to think through the worst-case scenario and plan for an exit strategy. Organizations should be sure there is no vendor proprietary code (or other form of platform lock-in) that would make exiting a nightmare.
In such a volatile space it’s imperative that organizations conduct thoughtful analyses and planning to ensure long term vendor partnerships and avoid major disruptions in the execution of their mobile strategy.