AirWatch Connect 2013 Highlights The Emergence Of A Key Enterprise Mobility Provider

AirWatch held its EMEA AirWatch Connect customer event in London recently. The event underlined that AirWatch, at the tender age of 10, has become one of the leading global providers of enterprise mobility services. My key takeaways from the event are that:

  • Secure collaboration forms the center of the connected business. Business productivity and innovation benefit significantly from a workforce that is empowered by mobility. AirWatch has one of the most comprehensive enterprise mobility portfolios in the market to support this drive. AirWatch can play a central role for any organization that is transforming into a connected business.
  • An integrated platform approach to enterprise mobility has a clear advantage. AirWatch pursues a Lego-block approach, bringing together solutions for email, browser, containerization, content locker, and, of course, device and app management. By building its solution as one platform, customers gain the flexibility of a Lego-style deployment — they can pick only those blocks that they require while ensuring the integration and flexibility of the overall solution.
  • Building a business case for enterprise mobility must include soft factors. Managers who build ROIs for enterprise mobility solutions usually focus on hard KPIs that support existing ways of doing business. However, this “hard ROI” approach really only compares the present with the past. In reality, it is often the soft KPIs, like new ways of doing business, that matter more. Ultimately, mobility is crucial for greater operational flexibility and business transformation. Both are at the heart of long-term business success.
  • The approach to service development and messaging needs to be turned upside-down. In the past, vendors defined products via particular features; these features translated into certain benefits that, in turn, were translated into a particular “business” value as measured by predefined KPIs. This descriptive messaging looks outdated in today’s environment of the empowered employee. Compelling messaging requires the stakeholder — the actual user of mobility — to outline her business goals, which depend on a particular strategy to succeed. In turn, the strategy defines which KPIs are relevant to the user. Hence, real business benefits only arise when specific KPIs are met. In turn, the features of any mobile solution need to be adjusted to reflect these benefits. And products need to comprise these very features.
  • AirWatch needs to improve its multistakeholder messaging. Are the people AirWatch is selling to today the same people who will take decisions about purchasing mobility tomorrow? This is highly questionable given the changing role of the CIO and the increasing role of business-line managers and empowered employees in ICT decision-making. AirWatch needs to find language that is more relevant to specific business lines to reach the actual end users of mobile technology.
  • The cultural impact of the mobile-empowered employee is still underestimated. As AirWatch grows up, I believe that it needs to address the broader implications of mobility. AirWatch is still focusing on the technology. It only scratches the surface of what we at Forrester call the mobile mind shift. BYOD is becoming mainstream. And BYOD affects how people go about their business — with fundamental implications for how business is done. To support customers in this transition, AirWatch needs to develop a more strategic pitch around change management for board-level discussions.