Enterprise IT Spotlight: enterprise mobility management

Mobile device and application use at work is evolving faster than IT or business policymakers can handle. As a moving target, it's tough to implement realistic practices and policies to support BYOD (bring your own device) and deliver applications to enhance employee productivity while balancing user productivity with security and compliance requirements. Without guidance or support from IT, employees find new, useful, free and easy-to-access tools like Evernote and Dropbox, which sync corporate data with the cloud. While often out of compliance with corporate IT policies, users are turning to these consumer-focused tools to remain productive while mobile. Because stopping this trend is next to impossible, mobile management tools have evolved to combine consumer-grade mobile services with the security that IT needs – making it easier to manage mobile productivity without having to spend your day saying 'no' to a line of business that wants to be productive, playing whack-a-mole or issuing ultimatums.

What does enterprise IT need to know about enterprise mobility management?

It's easy to talk about the rapidly growing importance of mobile to business success. Not having a mobile-friendly website or app to engage customers today is the equivalent of not having a website at all. Every day a higher percentage of your customers are looking to interact with your business via a mobile device. Inaction around mobility can create business-killing barriers that customers will not tolerate. But like the early days of website development, the reality of the situation inside most firms is quite harsh – our enterprise clients tell us that:

  • Fragmentation of effort is pervasive. Remember the early days of the Web, when each business unit invested money in its own preferred development tools, designed its own user experience and then erected its own website? It's a common problem in enterprise mobile now. Fragmentation of effort leads to wasted money, lost time, complexity, brand devaluation and slower development. This can lead to a common problem in development ‚Äì stranded apps. These are mobile apps that are pushed out to users but then become islands unto themselves, without continued updates and support ‚Äì these apps provide a poor and often outdated user experience for customers.
  • Customer-facing apps get attention, but employee-facing apps lack ROI. Whereas customer-facing apps can be tied directly to revenue or marketing leads, the benefits of employee-facing apps are less clear. Productivity ‚Äì especially personal productivity ‚Äì is a soft benefit that is often hard to measure. There's little data to support the notion that employees with greater flexibility in how, when and where they work produce more or higher-quality things. So customer-facing applications ‚Äì those that drive an increase in sales, improve customer satisfaction or streamline a process ‚Äì are easier to justify. Employee-facing apps can shorten sales cycles or increase responsiveness to customers. When looking to sell a mobile deployment to senior management, look to mobile to eliminate redundant activities. Anticipated cost savings can help win management approval for investments in mobility ‚Äì softer returns like productivity can be measured and realized after deployment.
  • IT has underinvested in tools and skills. While publicly supportive of the mobile trend, IT has been wringing its hands over the security and manageability issues, and busily creating policies and guidelines to slow it down or at least limit the damage. One side effect of this is the underinvestment in the tools and skills to deliver mobile capabilities, forcing the business/customer-facing side of the firm to rely on digital agencies like SapientNitro and outsourcers to fill the gap. According to 451 Research survey data (see figure below), only 2% of companies will decrease their staff that support mobility in the next 12 months, 28% will keep staff levels the same and 70% will increase staff dedicated to mobility over the same time period ‚Äì with more than one-third increasing mobility IT staff by more than 25%.

Outlook for full-time staff dedicated to mobility

Source: 451 Research

These issues all leave IT with some catching up to do when it comes to mobility – and even more so when it comes to managing employee use of mobile technology. EMM is the culmination of mobile device management vendors' evolutionary journey from managing devices to managing applications to managing information regardless of device or application choice. These tools can be used solo, in parallel or in a tiered fashion across the mobile environment. They can be applied to employee-facing or customer/partner-facing mobile applications equally. In many cases, the line between employee- and customer-facing is blurring as firms focus on connecting mobile employees to mobile customers to drive business goals such as increasing revenue or improving customer service. We divide enterprise mobility management into six technology segments:

  • Mobile device management (MDM) ‚Äì MDM leverages an installed client on the device as well as APIs to provision, manage and de-provision devices over the air. The main driver for growth in use of MDM has been to support multiple operating systems.
  • Mobile application management (MAM) ‚Äì MAM provides detailed control for specific applications on any device rather than managing the device itself. This lightweight approach can be used in parallel with MDM or as a stand-alone strategy for BYOD environments where IT faces resistance in managing employees' devices.
  • Mobile application platform (MAP) ‚Äì MAPs are used to design, develop, deploy and manage mobile applications through an integrated development environment (IDE) and access to back-end services like messaging, authentication and file sync.
  • Mobile email containers ‚Äì Mobile email containers provide users with an encrypted application that offers secure messaging and personal information management (PIM) for calendars and contacts. This segment has grown in the last year as IT looks to control the movement of corporate data on mobile devices from email to app.
  • Mobile back end as a service (MBaaS) ‚Äì MBaaS provides the connection between the application and the data source, as well as back-end services like push and storage to integrate the app ‚Äì a capability that is becoming increasingly important as IT looks to mobilize corporate data from multiple legacy back ends.
  • Mobile virtualization ‚Äì Mobile virtualization provides two types of hypervisors ‚Äì Type 1 bare-metal hypervisors integrated into the device's firmware and Type 2 hypervisors that are virtualized software stacks that sit on top of the device operating system. It is an approach that has struggled to gain traction due to the necessary involvement of mobile operators and device vendors.

How do you choose an EMM vendor?

As mobile becomes more strategic, choosing the right EMM vendor becomes all the more important. Management tools can be easy to switch out, particularly cloud-services-based ones, but as companies focus their strategy on mobile apps, things get a little stickier. Key considerations to keep in mind when choosing an EMM vendor:

  • Do they focus on EMM and not just MDM? While MDM is a key consideration for any EMM strategy, look at vendors that provide more than just device control. As your strategy evolves, your EMM vendor should not only support you, but should be one or more steps ahead of you. Be sure you clearly understand your EMM vendor's capabilities around app management and security. Do you see a consistent pace of innovation and product updates? Again, align your strategy with a vendor that is looking to grow.
  • Can they support a diverse deployment strategy? As your support for mobile workers becomes more complex, based on different user group needs, your EMM vendor should be able manage a large number of groups with a unique set of policies and a custom mix of tools. First time in the cloud? Cloud guru? Either way, make sure your EMM vendor can change deployment strategies in case you need to.
  • Can the vendor meet your scalability requirements? How many mobile workers are in your environment? The chances are that you are underestimating. Understand the scaling capabilities of your vendor. Look to vendors that are confident and experienced in supporting tens of thousands of users, each with multiple devices and several dozen apps.
  • How healthy is their ecosystem of app developers? As you roll out third-party apps, you need to understand the health of your EMM vendor's ecosystem of app developers. These are the developers that provide a manageable version of their app, providing a level of security at the app layer for corporate data. If your apps are not supported, understand the timeline or level of effort needed to roll out support.
  • Are they stable financially, and from a product standpoint? It is still early for enterprise mobility. While it's tough to say, you need to be comfortable with vendors that are not profitable. With that said, expect stability whether they run solo or are absorbed by a larger vendor. The more stable the vendor, the more likely your deployed products and services will survive and remain supported.

Who are the players in the EMM space?

451 Research tracks 125 vendors in the EMM space, a $3.7bn market in 2014 that will likely grow to just under $10bn by 2018, according to 451 Market Monitor research. Most vendors provide some combination of the capabilities described above, but none of them do it all. Market Monitor forecasts compound annual revenue growth in the MAM segment of 60% from 2013-2018 as MDM revenue growth slows into the single digits. The vendor landscape falls into the following groups:

  • Large diversified suppliers with an EMM offering ‚Äì There are a number of suppliers in EMM with large technology portfolios of which only a small part is derived from enterprise mobility management. Examples include Citrix, IBM, Microsoft, Dell, VMware, SAP and BMC. These vendors have the advantage of an established footprint in enterprise IT and the capital to invest in organic R&D or acquisitions as the market moves from device through application to information management.
  • Few medium-sized to large mobile-only management players ‚Äì BlackBerry, Good Technology and MobileIron are the last three remaining mobile-only players. While Good and MobileIron are pushing into the desktop space, BlackBerry is focused on rebuilding its presence in the enterprise.
  • A new breed of mobile app platform (MAP) players ‚Äì The traditional mobile enterprise app platform (MEAP) is evolving as developer choice and flexibility drive use and adoption. As you expand your mobile app strategy, look to integrated but flexible players like AnyPresence, Appcelerator, Telerik, FeedHenry and Mendix.

What should enterprise IT leaders do about enterprise mobility management?

In our experience, many firms – especially those that put IT in the driver's seat around mobile strategy – begin with the technology. What application platforms do we need? What management tools must we implement? That's putting the cart before the horse. First, you need to:

  • Take inventory of mobile projects. The first step in building your mobile strategy is to get aligned by taking inventory of all mobile projects, their maturity level, and the human, technical and financial resources being deployed to each. The results may shock you, but it gives you an opportunity to consolidate around viable use cases and direct resources to a clearly defined and smaller set of high-value projects.
  • Pick an EMM platform, not a device management tool. It's time to get out of the device management/BYOD debacle, finalize your BYO and security policy, and move on. For employee-facing mobile initiatives, you will need to make an EMM decision quickly. With more than a hundred vendors in the space, it's impossible to evaluate them all in great depth, so narrow the field to 10-15 and go deep!
  • Justify employee mobile investments by connecting with customer outcomes. Mobile is about being responsive, and this need to respond is often driven by outside forces like customers and partners. Unlike any other enterprise tool, mobile and cloud-based tools allow your employees the ability and flexibility to respond to your customers' ever-changing needs.

Where can you go to learn more?

The 451 Research team publishes extensively on enterprise mobility. Below are some additional research resources to go deeper.

Mobile Applications And Cloud: Companies, Vendors Take Aim at Mobilizing Business Workflows

Mobile Productivity in the Enterprise

Uptick in Business Demand for Smartphones, Tablets & PCs

Enterprise Mobility: Research agenda 2014-2015

Enterprise Mobility Management: Which Way Will the Market Tip?