It's time for a mobile management reality check

It's easy to get caught up in the hoopla around enterprise mobility. It seems like mobile device management (MDM) has been around forever, so everyone must do it by now.

It's easy to get caught up in the hoopla around enterprise mobility.

It seems like mobile device management (MDM) has been around forever, so everyone must do it by now. And with all the talk around mobile application management (MAM), there's got to be some decent traction, right?

If you're a regular reader of this blog and other forward-thinking sites, your perception of mobility in the enterprise might echo these sentiments. But it's become apparent to me that these views don't reflect reality. Most IT organizations are much slower to embrace mobile initiatives than you'd think, and they're in the dark about a lot of advanced technologies that the mobile elite take for granted.

The state of mobile management

Let's start with MDM. The most eye-opening statistics I heard at Interop last week came from Chris Hazelton, research director at the 451 Group, who shared the results of one of his firm's reports. The report said only 14% of organizations have a company-wide, on-premises MDM deployment, with just another 11.6% of organizations doing partial deployments.

Even when you factor in cloud MDM (6.4% company-wide deployments, 7.9% partials), that's still just a 40% adoption rate for MDM overall.

My evidence about MAM's lack of momentum is far more anecdotal but revealing nonetheless. At a customer event hosted by DSS, a solution provider in Wyomissing, Pa., I asked the audience of about 50 IT pros if they've ever heard of -- not used, heard of -- mobile application management. One person raised his hand.


Most people hadn't even heard of Good Technology, the standard bearer for MAM, with its sandboxed email client.

Striking a balance

That doesn't mean that all coverage and discussion of MAM is off base. It's important to stay ahead of the technology curve. IT pros need to know what's coming so they can prepare.

Writers, consultants and analysts also need to address current, real-life issues, however. In the mobile computing market, these issues are often very basic: Why should you embrace mobility? Are BYOD cost savings a myth? How do you create a BYOD policy?

To people who've been discussing these questions for years, the answers may seem passé or even boring. Of course it's more exciting to debate the approaches to MAM or envision the future of mobile information management (MIM) or explain the differences in two products that aren't even on the market yet. These topics are new and cutting edge! Who wouldn't want to talk about them?

But to the IT pros who wake up one day and say, "Man, I've got to get a handle on all these smartphones and tablets," answers to basic mobility questions are still exceptionally valuable. This information provides the base for a successful mobile strategy. If the conversation moves too far away from these issues, these people will be left behind, and there won't ever be an audience for MAM or MIM or other advanced technologies.

What will we talk about then?


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