What's next for Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM)?

Author: Amitabh Sinha

Publish on: Feb 9, 2016 6:00:00 AM

The Buzz About MDM and EMM is Fading

From 2012-2014, Mobile Device Management (MDM) was the best tool IT had for deploing secure email to mobile devices. Companies like Mobile Iron, Air-watch, Fiberlink, and Zenprise saw rapid growth in that time period. Gartner introduced the term Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) as the next iteration of MDM. But a few things have happened in the last few years that have caused the buzz for MDM/EMM technologies to shrink significantly: 

  • Commoditization of technology with platform APIs: Apple and Google introduced device management APIs as part of the operating system, which commoditized the management capabilities of the MDM/EMM platforms. What had previously taken many years and hundreds of cumulative man-years to develop was effectively reduced to a simple set of APIs that anyone could use to deliver the same capabilities. Prices for MDM software went from $150/user to $1/user in a span of 18 months. 
  • Poor end user adoption:  Upon MDM deployment, there was an immediate backlash from end users. Many of the devices being managed by MDM solutions were personal, and end users objected to giving IT control over their personal devices.  There are countless incidents of personal data and photos being accidentally wiped by IT, which (not surprising) led to even more challenges with end user adoption. In some cases, companies became liable for the accidental deletions. 
  • Convergence of mobile and desktop platforms: PC Lifecycle Management (PCLM) tools have had a long history with enterprise desktop management. This history rapidly began to expand as personal phones became increasingly capable of completing business tasks. This amplified the IT requirment for a single platform with which they could manage both PCs and phones. 
  • Microsoft Intune: The biggest vendor in PCLM is Microsoft with System Center. Microsoft Intune became one of the first platforms to unify desktop and mobile management. Furthermore, it was delivered with a modern, cloud-based, subscription pricing. The result? Microsoft's entry into the EMM market dramatically reduced the growth rate of existing vendors.
  • Microsoft Office + Intune: Finally at the very end of 2015, Microsoft made a series of announcements that fundamentally changed the EMM landscape. The most important productivity applications in the enterprise today are the Microsoft Office suite - Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. These apps in turn drive IT desire to secure email and documents at the end point. Microsoft next announced that Intune could manage Office, and that Intune could do this even for un-managed devices. So, no longer did customers need to lock down the device in order to secure email. They could secure Outlook/Word/Excel/PowerPoint even on un-managed devices. 

What to look for in today's EMM solutions

  • Single Platform to Manage Desktops and Mobile: Mobile and desktops (including Macs) should not be treated as two different silos. An end user wants to work across multiple devices - phone, tablet, PC, or Mac. Unless IT has a unified strategy for these devices, the end user experience will not be seamless across mobile and desktop. A quick examination of the marketplace today for solutions that unify the management of mobile and desktop platforms reviews the following vendors: Microsoft, VMware-Airwatch, and IBM.

However, managed devices are going to be a small part of the problem going forward. Most of the devices your users will use to access work will not be owned by IT. These include home PCs, home Macs, home tablets, or personal phones for your employees. There are also all the devices that a consultant or contractor uses. So it's time for IT to look for solutions that help address un-managed end points. There are two kinds of solutions that enable you to securely deliver apps and data to un-managed end points:

  • Secure Productivity Suite for Un-managed Devices: Users want to be able to access corporate email and edit documents offline. IT wants to secure both. The only vendor that can deliver a secure productivity suite is Microsoft. 
  • A workspace for both un-managed and managed devices: What about all the other business apps and data? SAP, Siebel, Custom apps, etc.? The best solution for end users is a workspace that enables access to any app from any end point: SaaS/on-premises apps, Windows/Web/Native/HTML5 apps. A workspace should also be able to provide access to Windows desktops, since it is the simplest tool to aggregate all business apps and data. 

The Future of EMM.

What's Next: 2016 - 2020

In 2016, EMM is going to transition from a platform to manage mobile devices to a platform that manages both mobile and desktops. But the bigger transition through 2020 will be a change in focus from managing end points to securing applications and data on un-managed and managed end points. In parallel, the solution architectures will transition from largely single-tenant on-premises solutions to multi-tenant cloud solutions. 


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