As I get ready for what I hope will be my last trip to the West Coast for the year, I have spent this morning thinking about an ongoing debate I have had with my good friend Brian Katz. Brian is often tweeting (so often in fact that I can’t find it) that mobile device management is no longer a product but a feature set and that we therefore shouldn’t be talking about MDM anymore.
While I tend to agree with Brian’s statement that mobile device management is nothing but a feature set, I’m not sure I agree that we shouldn’t be talking about MDM. Firstly, let’s be clear, most MDM products do the exact same thing. They’re all making the same calls to the same APIs that are provided by the operating system manufacturers. While there are at times unique features being implemented (this is great by the way for the RFPs that demand one BILLION features) I will question the marginal value that they bring (or else why wouldn’t they be done by other vendors).
But let me take this one step further. While the general consensus is that mobile device management is nearing or has arrived at commoditization, I will argue the same is about to happen to other parts of enterprise mobility management. Mobile application management is already quickly going down that path, as are other things such as wireless expense management, help desk, etc. Enterprise mobility management, as a whole, is quickly going down the feature set / commoditization route.
Some will balk at that – and others will crow that they have better speeds and feeds than the next person. That’s all fine and good. Just don’t tell me the industry isn’t commoditizing. Let me use a word that you might find more palatable. Maturing.
Enterprise mobility is maturing technologically at a pace I have never seen in any other industry. The interesting part is that there is still so much growth opportunity from a business adoption perspective. We are clearly (at least in my opinion) in a scenario where the technology innovation has clearly outpaced the business adoption….but business adoption will absolutely catch up!
So back to my friend Brian. He loves to say that you don’t need MDM and will give you an explanation that is obviously well articulated and thought out. He’ll also never admit that he’s wrong on that front.
Every organization needs MDM because you’re still interacting with the device. Yes, the data and apps matter too, but how else are you going to interact with the apps and data? Here’s one basic example. One of the things that has become popular of late is app-level VPNs. That makes a lot of sense….but I could easily make the argument that it’s six of one, a half-dozen of the other…and that I could just use the main (device based) VPN. Oh, and by the way, if email is still important to you and you’re not using a 3rd party email app, MDM might still be of interest to you.