In 2013 and the years preceding it, mobile management was about best-of-breed products. Highly focused products in the area of device management, secure email, mobile security and mobile application management emerged. In fact there were over 100 mobile management vendors in some analyst firm’s analysis of the space.

The environment is entirely different moving into 2014. A wave of consolidation has begun as companies look to build a comprehensive suite of mobile management solutions referred to as enterprise mobility management (EMM). Large vendors, such SAP and IBM, have made acquisitions in the space. Established companies like Citrix and Dell are rolling out solutions that integrate with existing functions. Smaller highly focused vendors, such as Apperian, have partnered with large vendors like IBM. Telecom providers, such as AT&T, have built EMM offerings. 

If you were on the fence because you didn’t want to purchase solutions from a start-up, the world has changed. You can now buy rich solutions from an established vendor. For companies that haven’t purchased solutions, this is a good time to evaluate EMM offerings. For those with mobile management solutions in place, this may be the right time to reevaluate your needs and your current solutions. There are three surefire ways to evaluate prospective EMM suites.

1. Identify what’s in the suite.

EMM is about more than Mobile device management and mobile applications management. It has elements of IT service management and advanced analytics. It ‘s about securing and managing the device, the applications and the data. It can combine desktop and mobile app distribution and management. In the near future, it will integrate with parts of your security suite. The idea is to understand what the data is as well as the risk profile associated with the data. The solution should also have an understanding of common data access scenarios. The solution should understand users’ job roles, location and device type.

2. Consider the vendor’s partner strategy.

Technology isn’t the only evaluation criteria for an EMM solution.  A business must assess how vendors are filling gaps in their offerings and building comprehensive solutions. EMM suites are created through partnerships and distribution channels. A service provider may create a best-of-breed suite and offer it as a managed service. However, IT leaders should evaluate the vendor’s partners and how good the company’s distribution channel is.

3. Evaluate the vendor’s financial strength.

It goes without saying that a business wants to purchase from a financially viable entity. This doesn’t rule out start-ups. But it does mean you should evaluate the vendor’s existing source of funding and how long this funding will last. Many vendors in the space have acquired significant funding and are planning for an IPO. Compared to long-standing organizations, it’s more likely that start-ups will be acquired or fold.

There are a myriad of features in EMM solutions. Some may be more important to your company than others. There are also many ways to purchase and deploy these products, such as hosted solutions or an on-premise solution. There’s no single one-size-fits-all EMM strategy. However, there have been many changes in the vendor landscape and in what employees expect from IT. That’s what makes now the right time to reevaluate your needs.

Do you have an EMM strategy? Are you considering new options?


Maribel Lopez is the CEO and mobile market strategist for Lopez Research, a market research and strategy consulting firm that specializes in communications technologies with a heavy emphasis on the disruptive nature of mobile technologies. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.