The proliferation of user-owned smartphones and tablets across the workplace isn't going to stop, so it's likely BYOD-related terms will continue to pepper the IT lexicon a year from now. Many of the practices and technologies that surround these devices are primed for a shake-up, however. What will 2013 mean to enterprise mobility strategies? We break down seven trends to watch in the new year.
1. MDM Will Take The Enterprise By Storm -- Even Though It's Dead
In 2012, we saw BYOD programs garner praise for enabling mobile workers, creating new business opportunities and improving efficiency. They also unleashed a deluge of security threats. This dichotomy demands a balancing act: corporate data is increasingly accessed outside a business's network and must be protected, but because the devices are employee owned, security precautions have to respect user privacy.
Mobile device management (MDM) vendors have been quick to respond to this challenge, but their products haven't been as widely adopted as the mobile devices they seek to oversee. In a December blog post, Gartner VP Phil Redman wrote that only around 20% of medium and large businesses had purchased MDM tools. An InformationWeek Reports survey published in late November found similar rates: 26% of respondents had already deployed a product and another 17% indicated they were in the process of doing so.
Though MDM purchases haven't kept pace with BYOD headlines, the products have nonetheless produced substantial business; in his blog post, Redman pegged 2012 MDM revenues at over $500 million. IDC forecasts that these tools will account for $1.8 billion in revenue by 2016. Gartner predicts an upsurge as well, as does the InformationWeek Reports survey, which found 72% of respondents expect to broaden their respective BYOD programs. A full 90% of those polled said that smartphones and tablets will become more crucial to business productivity.
Device management, in short, will increase in prevalence -- but there's a catch: MDM is dead, at least in its traditional form. Provisioning and tracking devices will still have a place, but data protection has emerged as a far more important product feature. The expense of replacing a misplaced iPhone or stolen Surface tablet is finite -- but if passwords, financial information, corporate strategy reports or other information falls into the wrong hands, the cost could be incalculable. As a result, expect MDM to fade from marketing language in 2013, replaced by MAM (mobile application management) or MEM (mobile enterprise management).
2. Big Companies Will Muscle Into The Mobile Management Game
MDM and MAM products in 2012 were largely produced by focused, pure-play vendors such as MobileIron, AirWatch, Zenprise and Good Technology. When Citrix acquired Zenprise in early December, however, the deal immediately sparked predictions that more mergers are imminent. In Gartner analyst Phil Redman's above-mentioned blog post, he suggested that companies such as Cisco, HP and Oracle might be in the market for new MDM tools. Dell might be another, given its taste for acquisitions and increased interest in wrangling mobile devices. While it remains to be seen who will be involved, expect more MDM and MAM vendors to be snapped up by large companies.
3. MDM Patent Lawsuits
Among patent cases involving mobile devices, Apple vs. Samsung was 2012's top headline-grabber. A litigious attitude infected the entire industry, though, and Good Technology's lawsuits against MobileIron and AirWatch, both filed in November, are some of the courtroom battles to watch in 2013.
Good's strongly worded infringement claims not only involve broad capabilities common to most MDM products, such as remote wipe, but also rely on patents that were issued before smartphones, much less BYOD, existed. As such, the case's resolution could ripple throughout the entire industry, affecting not only standalone vendors like AirWatch and MobileIron but also bigger companies keen to expand their mobility portfolios through acquisitions.
In a phone interview, 451 Research analyst Chris Hazelton noted that the lawsuits coincide with a Department of Defense RFP for MDM tools. The chosen proposal, to be announced by April, will give the winner a potential three-year contract that Hazelton characterized as "the largest deal out there to date."
"Part of the requirement was to disclose any litigation," he stated, "so the timing of the lawsuit is interesting."