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MDM, just part of Managed Mobility

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Managed Mobility is hot right now. Media cheerleaders are everywhere. Vendors are sensing a gold rush. But are businesses getting what they really need?

Whether it’s called Managed Mobility Services (MMS) or Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM), managing an organisation’s mobile communications is big business. Very big, in fact. Analysts report a market growing at 30% and soon to reach $19 billion. Businesses are getting swamped with pressure to act, or risk missing out on efficiency gains and cost savings. But act on what, exactly? What is the scope of the solution?

Throughout the media, there seems to be a very IT-centric view of what comprises EMM in the business world. The majority of articles on the web focus on mobile device and application control solutions, via Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Application Threat Management (ATM) solutions like Airwatch, MobileIron, and Appthority to name a few. This is an extremely narrow view – managing mobility is not all about IT solutions focused on device and application control. Yes, they are valuable, but they represent a narrow slice of enterprise mobility management needs. They are also becoming more commoditised every year, while representing just a fraction of the time and money required in managing enterprise mobility needs.

There are four key departments within enterprises that are stakeholders in ‘managing’ mobility needs inside an organisation:

  1. Management
  2. Finance
  3. Administration Services
  4. IT

Management agrees carrier contracts, and are the chief recipients of monthly reports from their department staff. Their interest in mobility generally extends to:

  • getting the best rates possible from carriers
  • initiating business programmes where mobility enablers extend the value
  • controlling ongoing expenses

Senior management will of course be concerned about the information security needs of the company, but they will leave the management of such issues to IT.

Finance is primarily concerned with expense management, from both a CAPEX and OPEX perspective. Their interests extend to:

  • BYOD versus company-owned device policies to drive down CAPEX
  • Asset management and depreciation of company-owned devices
  • Carrier rate validation to ensure the company is being charge correctly
  • Plan optimisation
  • Bill management
  • Expense management
  • Cost reporting

The only concern finance will have with things such as MDM or ATM solutions will be the cost of such solutions.

Administration Services
By far the biggest investment of time by an organisation in managing mobility needs is by administration resources. These resources invest considerable time in:

  • Ordering SIMs and devices
  • Following up orders
  • PIN & PUK requests
  • Moves, adds, changes, etc.
  • Usage & expense allocation management
  • Repairs
  • etc.

All of these requirements get managed from your administration resources. With the ever increasing number of mobile services and devices within organisations (think about all of the new tablet-driven initiatives you know of, or mobile-enabled initiatives) there is continued pressure on these admin resources to ensure that the business stakeholders (users) are well served and can operate without interruption to their work. Dependence on mobility solutions is high in this regard.

Finally we come to IT. The primary concern of IT is device and application control. Here the MDM and ATM solutions are key, and of course highly valuable to a business. Usually IT will have some sort of help desk facility to support users. As you can see though, the management of mobility extends well beyond these concerns and solutions. Alone they serve only part of a company’s mobility management needs.

The Rub
On the web, article after article takes businesses down this path:

  1. Enterprise mobility management is a big trend and can save you lots
  2. MDM and ATM products can help to manage the IT aspects of your mobile fleet
  3. Therefore, you should immediately buy a nice, shiny (and not so cheap) MDM and ATM system.

But hang on. MDM and ATM systems only address one dimension of the EMM problem space. Using an EMM business case to justify an MDM purchase is surely voodoo economics, isn’t it? It might suit the needs (or career dreams?) of your IT department, but it does nothing to address the needs of management, finance and administration.

And yet, management, finance and administration (especially administration) are exactly where most of the time and costs are, and where most of the savings from EMM can be realised. (You can read more about this here: “The true cost of Enterprise Mobility“.)

What’s worse, many businesses still spend up big on MDM, only then to never get around to using it anyway, or to mis-use it and actually create a bigger mess. MDM and ATM systems have value and can be important assets, but in the end they address just one small slice of the EMM domain.

What to do
When enterprises need assistance to manage mobility from end-to-end they should seek out a single partner who can help them across the spectrum of their needs. In order to effectively manage mobility a holistic and integrated approach is required, where every department in the business is served. MDM and MAM systems are a part of this, but only one part.

Today’s companies prefer partners who can deliver a business solution incorporating people, a platform, and policy management. Only then are the end-to-end needs of enterprises truly served.

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