Over the last year, we’ve seen many of the largest software vendors move into enterprise mobility management, so naturally we’re all wondering how this will all shake out. Will EMM be an add-on product, with each solution pinned to the success of the larger software company that it’s part of? Or will just a few top players emerge? And if so, who will they be? Could one of them be Microsoft?
Saying “Everybody’s doing EMM” brings a feeling of deja vu, reminding us of a few years ago when dozens of vendors rushed to stand up fledgling mobile device management products. But things are different now. For the most part, the major vendors are putting out whole enterprise mobility management suites that go way beyond basic MDM to include mobile app management, file syncing, other client apps like email, browsers, and app catalogues, and more.
Who is this “Everybody” that’s doing EMM? There’s VMware/AirWatch. Citrix. SAP. Oracle. IBM. Microsoft. Symantec. Dell. CA. There are the few major independents left, MobileIron and Good. There are a handle full of other lower-profile EMM vendors. And then there are dozens or hundreds of vendors that have have one or two pieces of the EMM puzzle.
Who will the winners and losers be?
There are plenty of observers who are still predicting more EMM consolidation. But for right now, I think it’s fair to say that the time for major acquisitions has passed. It’s just that so many EMM vendors and larger software companies have been paired together already that there aren’t many players left in the pool with which we can play matchmaker.
For now one of the things that we should consider is that many customers are buying modern EMM for the very first time. Customers have immediate pain points like compliance and the need to do something (or really anything at all) about the flood of iOS and Android. At the same time, many of them might not have the most clear picture of how they want to use EMM (beyond just the basics) and what they want to for their future mobility strategy.
On the vendor side, consider that—like I said before— there are so many options, and that at least superficially many of them look quite similar. Instead, the big differentiator is the the larger software vendor that surrounds each offering.
Taking all these points in consideration, it’s likely that for this first EMM buying cycle the marketplace could be pretty random. Sure, there will be some bigger vendors and some smaller ones, but with so many options that look similar, customers can always just get whatever’s convenient or whatever EMM licenses are thrown in as parts of larger deals.
The next buying cycle
Things could change a lot more when companies are buying EMM for the second time, but of course that’s a few years off. Right now figures vary, but the majority of companies haven’t bought into EMM yet. In a few years when that turns around and a lot more companies have started to do something about their users’ iOS and Android devices, there will be a lot clearer picture of what differentiates a good EMM solution. Then once they start making EMM investments for the second time we’ll see a clearer picture of the competition and the one or two or three vendors definitively rise to the top.
Since this is a few years off, it also means that vendors have that time to get their act together. Think about Microsoft, for example. Right now the combo of Intune and SCCM still has some gaps as an EMM solution, so it isn’t on the radar for many customers yet. But if Microsoft can get it right in the next two years then they could be in the perfect position for the next round of EMM buying.
So what will define the top solutions in a few years? Here I’m just guessing, so feel free to add your thoughts in the comments. Will it be some sort of new killer EMM feature? Is it going beyond MDM and MAM and file syncing to something like identity management? Will it be business apps and app transformation? Or will it just be the software vendors that have the most effective distribution and marketing channels?