Enterprise Mobility Management 2016 Year in Review

Because retrospective listicles are actually pretty useful when the industry is as active and interesting as it was in 2016.

Last week I wrote about everything that happened at BrianMadden.com in 2016, and on Monday Gabe wrote about 2016 in desktop virtualization. Today, in no particular order, I present an annotated list of 2016’s most interesting enterprise mobility stores, along with links to our coverage.

Windows 10, Windows 10, Windows 10!

For being the post PC era, we spent a lot of 2016 talking about Windows devices and apps. But this is for a good reason: as Gabe pointed out, more PCs were sold in 2015 than in 2005. And besides, Windows 10 is proving to be one of the most interesting versions of Windows ever.

I started out the year wondering if anyone besides hardcore EMM folks would be into the idea of using MDM to manage Windows 10, but over the year the idea really blossomed. There was some buzz at BriForum; then we learned about AirWatch UEM and MobileIron Bridge. Gabe is into the idea, too.

Besides MDM, there are plenty of other new security features in Windows 10, but the question of how Microsoft is going to drive developers to create UWP (modern .appx) apps remains. Recently we learned about a new strategy to bring full Windows 10 and x86 Win32 apps to devices with Qualcomm ARM processors. There’s a lot to unpack, but the bottom line is Windows is still interesting from many angles.

Identity and access management

2016 saw identity and access management become an even more important aspect of EUC, especially as Office 365 skyrocketed. Identity specialists like Okta, Ping, Centrify, and OneLogin continued to do their thing, but then Microsoft and VMware also pushed identity as the core of their EUC offerings. (However, one notable absence from all the identity chatter was Citrix.)

The big identity trend of 2016, though, was identity getting “smarter.” Vendors are integrating EMM, machine learning, artificial intelligence, cloud access security brokers, and new types of authentication to give identity platforms more context and create conditional access policies.

“Workspace” management

We’ve been talking about how to get a handle on managing cloud apps, cloud identities, file sync and share, mobile devices, and mobile apps for a long time, and by 2016 all of these individual technologies were in pretty good shape. The next step is bringing these components together with identity at the center (and also mixing in virtual desktops, virtual apps, physical desktops, and Windows apps) and making them simple to integrate, administer, and use. This is “workspace” management, and it’s another concept we’ve been thinking about for years, even if we didn’t always use that particular name.

In 2016 we saw workspace management turn into reality, as a number of vendors are bringing components together. Arguably the most complete is VMware Workspace One, which came out in February, but there a lot of different ways to evaluate and think about workspace suites.


2016 saw BlackBerry hard at work integrating Good Technology into BES; now that process is done and the Good brand is gone. The ups and downs of BlackBerry’s handset business are distracting, but if they buckle down on some fresh marketing, they could have a good 2017 in the EMM space.

Mobile threat detection

As recently as May 2016, I wrote that the enterprise is still undecided about the role of mobile threat detection, just like I wrote in 2015 and 2014.

But then in the second half of 2016 it became a bit more prominent. There was the Trident/Pegasus incident on the iOS side (though things like this remain extremely rare and most companies still have bigger problems, like passwords and patching). Then Microsoft started talking a bit more about its partnership with Lookout.

According to Gartner (in a report released before Trident/Pegasus), fewer than 5% of organizations have mobile threat defense in place today, and fewer than 15% will have it by 2018. However, with all of the activity in the last 6 months, the EMM industry will likely be talking about it more in 2017.

The state of EMM

As another year of mobile device and cloud app usage went by, we had another year of more companies realizing the need for EMM and identity management. Over this summer I wrote a series on the state of EMM that covered what’s mature, what needs work, different stages, what maturity will look like, and why companies get started.

The state of MAM

I’d argue that the old MDM versus MAM argument never went away—it just morphed into the “MAM frameworks built into devices” (such as Android for Work) versus “standalone MAM, SDKs, or app wrapping, without device enrollment” argument.

So what happened in 2016? For one thing, MAM is still confusing, so I presented a session on it at Citrix Synergy in May and wrote a three-part consolidated guide in December.

In MAM news, 2016 was the year we saw the formation of the cross-vendor AppConfig Community, which advocates device-level approaches based on built-in frameworks. At the same time, many vendors also strengthened and differentiated their messaging around stand-alone MAM.

App transformation

Gabe and I are fans of the app transformation concept, and that space has certainly had a roller coaster year. First Reddo Mobility shut down, and then we heard that StarMobile would be soon to follow. Fortunately PowWow came in and acquired StarMobile, and Capriza raised a $23 million round C in July.

The continued rise of Microsoft EMS

In 2015, Microsoft Enterprise Mobility and Security (formerly Enterprise Mobility Suite) did a big run of adding important features; in 2016, they became one of Microsoft’s fastest-growing products and a dominant part of the EMM market. Look at Brad Anderson’s Ignite presentation for an impressive showcase, full of demos.

XenMobile plus Intune

Back at Synergy, Citrix announced that they were going to build a brand new EMM service in Azure, and that it would provide back end integration with Microsoft Intune and EMS. Now it’s almost 2017 and we’re still waiting for more details of what this new service and integration will look like. Plus, as I mentioned earlier in this article, Citrix has been absent from the growing identity and access management conversation in 2016. So on both counts, they have some questions to answer next year.

Bonus lists

Here are EMM companies, products, and brands that ended in 2016:

Aside from the core EMM vendors I’ve been writing about for years, here are EMM vendors that I wrote about for the first time on BrianMadden.com:

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