A new survey of 314 IT professionals conducted by QuinStreet Enterprise, publisher of eWeek and Channel Insider, finds that nearly half (47 percent) identified mobile device management as an area they plan to invest in in the cloud.
The rapid rise of mobile computing caught most IT organizations by surprise. As such, most of them don’t have the infrastructure in place to actually manage those devices. Plus, IT organizations need to manage both the devices and any number of native, HTML5, or hybrid applications running on those devices.
Thanks in part to the DevOps revolution, the way organizations manage mobile applications and devices is fundamentally different from traditional enterprise IT environments. The management of the device and the application is unified, while in traditional IT environments, infrastructure is usually managed separately from the application portfolio.
Mobile price wars
Naturally, a lack of mobile computing expertise creates demand for IT services providers. But it has also attracted the attention of many vendors, resulting in something of a price war that is having a negative effect on margins.
MobileIron and AirWatch, which was acquired by VMware for $1.54 billion last year, helped pioneer the category. Then Hewlett-Packard launched a mobile device management service priced at $5 per user per month. Not too long after that, Good Technology unfurled a mobile device and application management service priced at $3 per user per month. Most recently, Kaseya added a mobile management service that included both devices and applications priced at only $1 per user per month.
Potentially more troubling yet, those price points make it tempting for an internal IT organization to take on the task themselves by invoking an external cloud service, which may account for why there is so much interest in the category.
Why MSPs need to bundle mobile
For IT services providers, that shift creates both a challenge and opportunity. Mobile devices and applications are everywhere, so it’s not a trend they can ignore, no matter how small the margins are. The cost of providing mobile support simply needs to be bundled in with a much broader set of more profitable services.
In fact, mobile computing may not wind up being about the device or the applications but rather about the business processes they transform. The one benefit provided by every mobile application in a business environment is that they remove latency and add flexibility to a business process. By working with the customer to mobilize an entire business process, the cost of supporting the devices and the applications that run on them can be embedded in the larger business consulting service.
As is often the case lately, MSPs need to get closer to the customer in order to turn these kinds of opportunities into reality. Right now most organizations are still using mobile devices just to surf the web and access email. Solution providers that can move beyond that and identify ways mobile computing applications can transform the services a business provides will be worth their weight in gold—regardless of what they are charging to support the devices and applications that make it possible.