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Managed mobility services market: Complexity fuels channel growth

The complex nature of enterprise mobility opens service opportunities for channel companies, but also makes for a challenging and competitive environment.

IT companies providing technology and consulting expertise in the managed mobility services market stand to gain new business opportunities in a rapidly expanding market. And those deals often call for customized hardware and software offerings that manage the use of mobile devices.

Due in part to technology innovation in the sector, as well as the rise of BYOD among workers who increasingly use personal devices to access business information, managed mobility services are expected to see explosive growth. MarketsandMarkets, a research firm, published a study in April that predicts the managed mobility services market will quadruple during the next five years, moving from $4.6 billion in 2016 to $19.4 billion by 2021.

A TechTarget survey that polled 565 channel partners worldwide underscores how important IT solutions providers view their opportunities in this market.

Channel partners identified managed mobility services as the top area they plan to add to their portfolios in the next 12 months (44.9%). The survey defined managed mobility as including mobile value-added services along with mobile security, tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices. Other definitions often include BYOD strategy consulting.

TechTarget's Channel Directions Survey, which was conducted in July 2016, also identified managed mobility as the service line channel partners found the most challenging to provide (61.8%). These results are consistent with previous TechTarget surveys from 2014 and 2015.

Complexity drives growth

Kathleen Urbine, executive vice president, managed services, Digital Management Inc.Kathleen Urbine

"The mobile landscape is constantly changing," said Kathleen Urbine, executive vice president of managed services at Digital Management Inc. (DMI). She said companies' IT departments don't have the time to deal with the rising complexity of configuring and managing mobile devices.

Not only is the work time-consuming, but it often comes with great risk. For example, an operating system upgrade, a frequent event, can break down the entire process of delivering services to the end user, Urbine said.

"For IT departments, managing various aspects of these mobile devices securely while leveraging growing mobility opportunities is an uphill battle," Urbine said. "With the onset of new devices being deployed, new applications and new operating systems being introduced, it is increasingly challenging for companies to manage mobile policies when it comes to the deployment, security and support of mobile devices."

We see organizations wanting to eliminate the burden of infrastructure and alleviate the administrative drain.
Kathleen Urbineexecutive vice president, managed services, DMI

In recent years DMI, which provides mobile management offerings for clients across the globe, has seen a tripling in demand for the provisioning and kitting of mobile devices.

Because of this increased workload, the company opened a new 30,000 square foot customer service center and depot earlier this year in Lincolnshire, Ill. Additionally, the company has added service facilities throughout Europe, South America, Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. Those facilities equip customers with devices that are configured, provisioned and secured to each organization's specifications.

In her assessment, Urbine said the main factors driving demand among DMI customers include:

  • A desire to reduce costs and gain efficiencies;
  • Guaranteed service-level agreements to ensure customer satisfaction;
  • Cost savings of 20% to 40% vs. in-house service and support; and
  • Keeping an organization's employees connected and productive on any device, anywhere in the world, any time of day.

"We see organizations wanting to eliminate the burden of infrastructure and alleviate the administrative drain," Urbine said.

The channel partner challenge

The managed mobility services market, while offering channel opportunities, also presents challenges.

Denise Lund, research director, Enterprise Mobility, IDCDenise Lund

In this sector, channel partners of major mobility management software vendors, in particular wireless service providers and companies offering professional services, have reframed their approach to customers, according to Denise Lund, research director, Enterprise Mobility, at IDC, based in Framingham, Mass. Specifically, partners have broadened the discussion around mobilizing the enterprise with managed mobility as part of a larger value proposition, she explained.

Lund said a major challenge for these particular channel partners is that third-party software vendors have been developing their own self-service software offering to help manage applications and mobile devices in the enterprise.

"I think this raises the bar for service providers as channel partners who are often selling the managed offerings to enterprises. It's just challenging in that regard," Lund said.

She added that channel partners who prioritize and provide a premium service for managed devices will be very successful, noting that service providers that can define the value of their managed mobility services, above and beyond the software-agnostic approach, will do very well.

"For some service providers that may mean selling the value of their consultative services, for others it means packaging their … mobility offerings as their value proposition. Either way, the competitive environment is fierce, but for service providers there are plenty of opportunities to help businesses manage the scale and growth of their mobile device needs," Lund said.

One important area that is essential to the value proposition discussion is how to deploy security features as part of a managed mobility solution.

"Security concerns and control over device and application usage on the organization's network is of great importance to enterprise mobility decision makers," Lund said.

In IDC's 2016 U.S. Enterprise Mobility: IT Decision-Maker Survey, respondents said security ranks high on their list of concerns. That survey polled 324 executives working at enterprises with 1,000 or more employees who said they plan to invest more in mobile technologies in during the next 12 to 18 months.

IDC's survey revealed the top three areas for planned technology investment are:

  • Mobile devices -- smartphones and tablets -- for employees;
  • Mobile application security -- containers, SDKs, app wrappers; and
  • Mobile content security -- data encryption, rights management, usage policy enforcement.
Nisha Sharma, managing director at Accenture MobilityNisha Sharma

At technology consulting and services firm Accenture, Nisha Sharma, managing director at Accenture Mobility, said organizations need to view the security of mobile devices as a way to safely enable their workforces to achieve their business goals. She also said security tools for mobile devices should be easy to adopt, user-friendly and enhance the work experience instead of impeding employees' efforts to perform their tasks.

Sharma said there needs to be a strong mobile security strategy in place for a successful seamless offering that must cover governance, users and identity, applications, data, networks and devices. But the most important element is to balance security with user experience.

"If a security solution is too complex, has too many steps or hinders a person's experience of a tool in any way, there's always the risk they will stop using the enterprise-backed tool, and circumvent the system to get what they want from a public provider, putting enterprise data and networks at risk," Sharma said.

Managed mobility services market: EMM, MDM and MAM

In addition to security for mobile devices, Sharma said there is a lot of interest in providing services for enterprise mobility management (EMM), mobile device management (MDM) and mobile applications management (MAM) as well as distribution, maintenance and depot services. There's also strong interest in telecom expense management (TEM) for devices, as well as help desk services.

"Businesses are generally looking for ways to free up the time of their IT teams so that they can focus on becoming digital businesses, and the cloud and consumption payment models are making this a more common-sense move than ever," Sharma said.

DMI's Urbine said the managed mobility services market has multiple players including telecom carriers, device manufacturers, vendors who provide MDM, EMM, TEM or wireless expense management software, along with those who provide cloud as well as infrastructure and security.

"The reason we see mobility as a service being in such high demand is that there are many moving parts making it difficult to manage the environment holistically in an integrated fashion," Urbine said.

But with complexity comes opportunity.

"It takes expertise as well as the necessary infrastructure to effectively and efficiently deliver managed mobility services," Urbine said. "Organizations need an integrator that specializes in mobility and managed services, but can also provide end-to-end mobility as a service in order to deliver the best service to their end users."

Next Steps

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