LANDesk Acquires Veteran Industrial MDM Provider Wavelink

Watching the Mobile Device Management market is a bit like watching a sneeze. My colleagues Christian Kane and Benjamin Gray are tracking nearly 75 vendors in the space, many of them just a few years old. We've also seen a fresh round of acquisitions as established endpoint management vendors look to shore up their flanks and freshen their portfolios.

Differentiation amongst vendors is hard to come by, as is long-term enterprise MDM experience. And that's what makes LANDesk's acquisition of Wavelink interesting. Mobile Device Management in an industrial or field setting is more than just enforcing passcode restrictions, enabling remote wipe in case of loss, or rolling out software. Companies like Wal-Mart and FedEx have significant portions of their businesses that depend on handheld devices for package delivery, inventory and point of sale. MDM in these settings involves a range of capabilities from diagnosing connectivity and printing issues over the air, to interfacing modern mobile apps to mainframe-based warehouse inventory systems.
 
Perhaps the best way to describe what Wavelink does is "Industrial MDM". They boast 15,000 customers in 85 countries, and have been in the business for several years. The flagship product is called Avalanche and its historical strengths have been in Windows Mobile environments. They added iOS and Android a couple of years ago and are about to release their 2nd generation release of the same.
 
Why it makes sense for LANDesk:
  1. Competitive: It gives LANDesk the opportunity to own the IP for MDM technology and positions them differently than other MDM solutions on the market given Wavelink's industrial focus.
  2. Cultural: Wavelink is based just a few miles from LANDesk's headquarters in Utah. They share very similar corporate cultures, which is critical for quick assimilation of employees into the combined organization, integration of development processes, and execution of new offerings.
  3. Experience: Wavelink's deep experience with industrial MDM gained over many years with large companies, and a complete set of capabilities for integrating mobile devices into core line-of-business operations should make it an attractive option for firms looking to do the same with newer devices such as ruggedized Android tablets. Deploying iOS and Android devices for field service and manufacturing workers is of high interest right now for many Forrester clients.
  4. Acquisition Cost: Given Wavelink's current size vs. years in business, we can see modest growth over several years but they're still a small firm. They're not one of the "darlings" of the MDM space, and while the details aren't known, the price LANDesk paid was probably a reasonable (as opposed to insane) multiplier of revenue. Coupled with the ongoing maintenance revenue from existing customers and established partnerships, the deal seems rational.
 Concerns:
  1. Wavelink has a larger number of products than is typical for a company of its size. This can lead to distractions with minor revenue products, and difficulty in executing fast enough where the large revenue opportunities are. LANDesk will need to make some hard choices to decide what to cut loose in order to double down on new initiatives.
  2. Wavelink's history and experience could be construed as legacy-focused and out of touch with the current state of the art for MDM on iOS and Android. Forrester believes this is not warranted, and that prospective customers should not discount the company's industrial MDM experience. At the same time, firms should evaluate the iOS and Android management capabilities carefully to make sure all of the features they need are in place

Summary:

Experience counts a lot when integrating mobile devices into line of business operations. Wavelink is long on experience. Rather than generic enterprise MDM, Wavelink differentiates themselves with an industrial, line of business approach and has the customer base to match. Forrester thinks they're worthy of consideration - particularly for companies looking to bring newer mobile platforms into core business operations.

For Forrester clients evaluating client management systems in general and who want to understand how LANDesk's client management portfolio stacks up in the market, David Johnson is the correct contact. For clients evaluating mobile device management solutions, Christian Kane and Benjamin Gray are best equipped to help.

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