At the leading edge of every employee-led workplace technology revolution is usually a handful of motivated people who are constantly experimenting with tools and technologies to improve their work. In the early ‘90s, millions mastered the venerable PC and especially Microsoft Excel - partly because for the first time they could quickly collect and process thousands of data points, present it in ways that they could make sense of it, and make better decisions faster. The result: they could work in new ways that were previously impossible, and they could be more productive and valuable for their employers. In short, these employees were the leaders and innovators in their organizations.
In 2014, these engaged employees' time and energy is going toward finding tools that will help them stay productive as they become more mobile, and their work and personal lives continue to blend. For example: Desktop computer usage as a percentage of the work day is declining, and for at least one hour each work day, 13% of global information workers now use a tablet for work - primarily so they can get work done from home. Forrester believes that investments in mobility technology will increase through 2015 and beyond.
Mobile device management is a fully commoditized market. In the strictest definition of MDM, the available functionality is limited to those application programmer interfaces that are made available by the operating system vendor (Google or Apple). There is very little that traditional MDM offerings can do to differentiate themselves from the other 100+ vendors in the market. This causes significant price pressure on the offerings. Value for MDM is rapidly approaching zero. As we have seen over the past year-and-a-half, core MDM component offerings have been continuously lowering their prices in an attempt to maintain market share. There is a transition by the major MDM players to expand well beyond the traditional "wipe," "lock," and "locate" concepts available to them into more advanced technologies such as content and collaboration systems, security components at the network and application layer, as well as partnerships and integrations with secondary market offerings. These features have value. MDM at its core does not.
I think it's about time someone came out and said it. Just like Dobby from the Harry Potter books, MDM should be free. I've been telling all of the vendors that I work with that if they don't put out their MDM offering in a freemium model very shortly, the other vendors will beat them to the punch. Traditional MDM offerings are a land grab for enterprise market share and should be used as an upsell or wedge into more advanced and differentiable offerings. I predict that in the next 6 to 9 months we will see most, if not all, of the leading MDM vendors giving away their core functionality.
On January 22, 2014, a new mobile security player was born. This is the date that VMware announced its intention to purchase the mobile device management (MDM) firm AirWatch. With a price tag of $1.5 billion, this acquisition confirms that the mobile security market is scorchingly hot. This news comes on the heels of the November acquisition of Fiberlink by IBM. I expect additional mobile security market consolidation to occur throughout the remainder of 2014. This acquisition is a shot across the bow of any other major vendor looking to play in the mobile security market. If you don't step up and spend now, you might just be left holding the bag.
There is a 14-dog race going on, with a goal to win the wallets of the enterprise for mobile security spend. When lined up in the starting blocks, the racers may all seem to have equal chances, but a few are better poised to cross the finish line first and bask in the glory of the winners' circle. Three of these technologies are the odds-on favorites to lead from start to finish, with the rest of the racers struggling to remain relevant.
Coming off the starting block with the "holeshot" are the mobile device management vendors. With huge engines of revenue, large customer counts, and first-mover advantage, this dog is the odds-on favorite to take the championship trophy. Mobile device management vendors are already expanding their technologies and products into security platforms to diversify their rapidly commoditized product offerings. The move is paying off for the biggest and toughest MDM participants in the race, giving them the early, and potentially insurmountable, lead.
All of the fighting has resulted in multiple casualties. BlackBerry couldn't keep up the pace and was eventually chopped off at the knees. Microsoft has yet to gain enough developer volume to be a real threat and will eventually reinvent itself as a new company under new leadership. Third-party app stores are distributed and nimble but really amount to nothing more than splinter groups using guerrilla tactics against the major nation states. They just can't compete in the long term.
In the United States, Google Play and Apple iTunes have become the two superpowers in the mobile app war. With exceptional mobile application uptake, these two players have come to dominate the consumer mobile space. Phones don't sell phones. . .applications sell phones, and these two players have won.
Understanding the terms and technologies in the mobile security market can be a daunting and difficult task. The mobile ecosystem is changing at a very rapid pace, causing vendors to pivot their product direction to meet the needs of the enterprise. These changes in direction are creating a merging and twisting of technology descriptions being used by sales and marketing of the vendor offerings. What we considered “Mobile Device Management” yesterday has taken on shades of containerization and virtualization today.
Mobile antivirus used to be a standalone vision but has rapidly become a piece of the mobile endpoint security market. Where do we draw the lines, and how do we clearly define the market and products that the enterprise requires to secure their mobile environment?
In an attempt to help the enterprise S&R professional understand the overlapping descriptions of mobile security products, I am working on new research that will help organize and quantify the market. Understanding the detailed state of each of the technology offerings in the market, and their potential impact on a five- to 10-year horizon, will help enterprises make more-educated purchasing decisions.
To begin the process of covering all of the technologies being offered today, I’ve divided the solutions in the space by technology type. Not only am I analyzing technologies that are available now, but I’m also researching any additional products, services, and vendors in the mobile security space that have innovative new concepts that they are bringing to bear. These new-age offerings will help shape the future of mobile security, and we need to get ahead of the concepts now if we wish to have a better understanding of the impact of the innovation.
Those of you paying attention in Sunday School may remember this thing called the apocalypse. Earl Robert Maze II was my Sunday School teacher, and he may be the most fearsome schoolmaster ever to scratch a chalkboard. One spitwad and there was sure to be a rapture. Mr. Maze would get pretty wrapped up in the lesson of the day and we'd all have to keep at least one eye on him as he paced back and forth. Not because we were worried about being asked a question, but because as he paced and talked, he'd build up globs of white something or other in the corners of his mouth, and every so often one of them would take flight and land on some unsuspecting front row pupil's hand, to their horror.
As luck would have it, I was late to class on the day Mr. Maze deemed that we were, at last, ready for the book of Revelation; I took the last seat -- In the front row -- Right in the line of fire. Sure enough, he was so worked up by the time he got to the part about the divine apocalypse, that one of those white gobs of goop chose that moment to set itself free and was headed for me like a heat-seeking missile. There was nothing I could do! And so to this day, the term apocalypse conjures up a frightening memory for me.
Which brings me to the current situation in the client management vendor landscape. The apocalypse was to be foretold by four horsemen representing conquest, war, famine and death (if you've ever worked for a company whose business has been disrupted, as I have, you've probably met with all four!). The four horsemen before us now in the client management market in the second quarter of 2012, are:
The explosion of tablets and smart phones.
The elusive management of client virtualization.
SaaS-based client management vendors (see Windows inTune).
New application delivery models (app stores, virtualized apps, etc).
I don’t blame you. And here’s why: The scope of mobile management is confusing and expansive, including things like mobile device management (MDM), persona separation technology, enterprise application stores, application management and a slew of other tools. Some vendors focus purely on one mobile management category, like device management, while plenty of others tackle two or three different enterprise challenges. At the same time, this market is evolving so fast that any assessment of the technologies and their vendors is out of date within 2-3 months.
But before I explain why Symantec’s acquisition is so important, let me give some more context. Mobile management has three main components which I&O professionals are thinking about, the device, the apps, and the data. Today, most first firms follow a very similar path: devices first – get an MDM solution to provide some control over the environment, set a mobile policy for employees, and start trying to figure out what to do about applications and data. Realistically, MDM only solves your challenge around device control – probably the least important of the three. That’s the path that many vendors are following today. As the MDM market becomes more commoditized, most vendors are turning their engineers towards data protection and sharing tools and application management technology. Had a conversation about Dropbox or Box.net lately? That’s a conversation about both apps and the data.
Supporting non-BlackBerry mobile devices is a priority for every company I speak with these days. Regardless of industry and size, firms are bringing in mobile device management (MDM) solutions alongside their BES to manage the increasing number of Android and iOS devices that are in their employees’ hands.
Now let’s be clear, even with these MDM solutions in place I&O professionals should not expect the same levels of security and management for Android and iOS that they’ve come to know on BlackBerry with a BES, yet. Ultimately these MDM solutions are limited by Apple and Google’s APIs, but eventually they will have all of the necessary components to challenge RIM’s position as the enterprise mobile device, especially as more companies allow personal devices inside their networks.
RIM is obviously putting a lot of work into combating the market share erosion it’s seeing in the hardware and platform space, but what about device management? With well over 25 vendors in the MDM space currently, the fight is on for who will manage mobile devices moving forward. Cue RIM’s announcement last week at BlackBerry World stating that it will expand BES and BES Express support to include both Android and iOS devices later this year, you can feel the other MDM vendors collectively shudder.