Where Will Businesses Look For Help With Mobile Device Management? - InformationWeek

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Commentary
7/23/2007
07:26 PM
Stephen Wellman
Stephen Wellman
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Where Will Businesses Look For Help With Mobile Device Management?

According to a new survey, use of mobile business applications in top enterprises is set to skyrocket through 2009. The survey, sponsored by a vendor (in this case Mformation), claims that almost 60 percent of managers in top U.S. enterprises already use smartphones as strategic devices. But does this mean CIOs will actually pay for more mobile device management?

According to a new survey, use of mobile business applications in top enterprises is set to skyrocket through 2009. The survey, sponsored by a vendor (in this case Mformation), claims that almost 60 percent of managers in top U.S. enterprises already use smartphones as strategic devices. But does this mean CIOs will actually pay for more mobile device management?Here is a look at the survey's findings:

* More than half of managers using company-supplied mobile devices and nearly one-third of staff, with 56 percent reporting increased usage among managers and 60 percent reporting increases in staff usage.

* Mobile email, Internet and calendar applications are already pervasive, with more than 90 percent of companies using them, and businesses are also set to significantly increase the use of new mobile applications such as sales force applications and company file share systems.

* By 2009, enterprises will significantly expand the rollout of mobile VoIP (from 27 to 70 percent), instant messaging (from 58 to 80 percent), push-to-talk (from 35 to 55 percent), and picture/video messaging (from 35 to 63 percent) applications.

* 81 percent of respondents report significant productivity increases from current mobile investments, with more than one-third of these reporting increases higher than 20 percent.

* Four-fifths of CIOs interviewed look for improved management of mobile devices, applications, and data to accelerate the productivity trend, and more than 8 out of 10 US CIOs believe the mobile operator should take the lead in providing these device management services.

After serving up some tasty data snacks, Mformation goes on to predict the need for more mobile device management (cue sales pitch).

While the rest of the release turns into a sales pitch, I don't think Mformation is off the mark. I agree, mobile device management is the next battleground for the mobile enterprise, both for CIOs looking to manage all these devices and for vendors, too. But as I blogged back in May, device management is a real strength for BlackBerry Enterprise Server, and I don't see how rivals like Mformation are going to knock BES out of the market:

I have long argued that BES' ease-of-use for IT managers is one of the reasons for BlackBerry's success. If vendors like HP are going to compete with RIM, they must offer device management that is better, costs less, and, most importantly, is even easier to use than BES.

I think HP's recent announcements are a step in the right direction. But I don't know if they are enough. HP still seems too focused on selling their components and not on offering a unified vision and experience. They should focus on selling an experience that makes all the problems of an IT manager go away. Device management is a perfect hook on which to frame this position.

Welcome to the device management battlefield, HP. I am sure many of your rivals are already on their way to meet you. Just remember, this ain't uncharted territory. RIM has been here for a while, too.

OK, I can hear all of you device management vendors out there e-mailing me now. There should be room for your device management solution and BES in any company looking to do device management correctly. Right?

I don't buy that for a second. When I speak with CIOs and IT managers, they tell me that BES solves all their problems. In most cases they're not looking to add more device management.

And on top of that, don't forget that study from May that predicted the death of mobile business vendors. Let's look at what my colleague, Eric Zeman, had to say:

I have to agree with Mr. Rizzo. More and more, the technology vendors I speak to are offering their services through the wireless carriers rather than selling directly to end users, whether they be enterprise or consumer. For end users, this is easier. Rather than having two or more relationships to manage, they get one large relationship: the network operator. This makes sense for both the consumer and the enterprise, and doesn't bode well for smaller players looking to add their services to devices and networks after the fact.

The analysis that The 451 Group performed on the real number of enterprise users is even more depressing. They believe just 20 million full-fledged smartphone users will need specialized enterprise services. The rest are prosumers and consumers, who are often happy to use common mobile platforms rather than the specialized smartphone platforms. This includes using mobile versions of Yahoo or Gmail e-mail services. Compared to the world's 2.7 billion mobile phone users, 20 million isn't even a drop in the bucket.

This means that most enterprises are going to look to two sources for device management: The carriers and RIM. Any device management providers out there looking to cash in on this are going to have to fight for a seat at the table with the carriers and BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

What do you think? Do enterprises need more device management than BlackBerry Enterprise Server currently offers? Or is the combination of BES and carrier support enough?

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