Have Managed Mobility Services Commoditized or Are They Just Humming Along?

Kathryn Weldon
Kathryn Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • Having recently completed Current Analysis’ bi-annual update of the top mobile operators’ global managed mobility services, it is clear there is not a lot that is substantially new in this segment.
  • This could mean a number of things: value-added mobility services may be profitably humming along; or they are no longer highlighted, as they have been increasingly integrated with other strategic enterprise services; or – worst case – they are commoditizing and somewhat stagnant service elements.

Current Analysis recently completed its updates of the top global mobile operators’ managed mobility services (MMS) portfolios. Information for some of these reports came from recent analyst events, but ironically, few of these events actually included separate sessions on this segment. The reasons for this varied from operator to operator, but a few issues stand out. Enterprise mobility is no longer a novelty; it is a given that companies of every size and in every region are increasing their use of mobile services on smartphones and tablets for voice and data communications (both internal and external) as well as for public and intra-company information access, navigation, access to databases with the ability to transact key business processes from mobile apps while on the road for functions such as CRM, product inventory, sales enablement, etc. No one denies that the productivity gains of mobility are huge, as fewer employees are tethered to their desks and mobile devices provide capabilities way beyond the old e-mail/PIM apps of yesteryear.

In addition, the tools to manage, configure, secure and update large volumes of these devices (BYOD and corporate-liable) across different mobile OSs and across different geographical regions are pretty stable. EMM from the likes of MobileIron, VMware/AirWatch and now BlackBerry/Good is available in cloud or premises-based flavors from all global operators. For differentiation, there are slightly different service wraps, professional services types, support tiers, etc. Some operators are more adept at mobile application enablement/development than others (B2B and B2C) or offer more third-party mobile apps. Others have been more proactive about offering mobile security services beyond EMM. Yet others offer mobile services in more countries or regions. While this relative lack of differentiation and new service launches implies some level of commoditization, it doesn’t necessarily mean that these offerings are not profitable. It could simply mean that they no longer require all that much marketing or new service offers in order to be visible to (or lure) potential customers. In addition, enterprise mobility has become so mainstream that it is integrated in service provider portfolios as a peer endpoint access method (or source of data or enabling technology) within strategic but more traditionally wireline services such as unified communications, cloud and hosting, data analytics and other technologies generally defined as core elements of the digital transformation.

Clearly, the worst case would be that managed mobility is old news, every service provider offers the same elements at the same (or increasingly lower) price points and the key platform partners for TEM/MDM/MEAP, etc. are underselling their service provider partners by selling direct to enterprises. In addition, if cloud-based mobile app development is where the real or new money is, many operators are not well situated to compete with SIs and instead will bring them in as partners without reaping significant financial rewards.

The MMS market is maturing, but we think there is still life in these offerings, still room to differentiate, and we will see new service areas that will grow revenues and profits for years to come for service providers of all stripes. For example, once platforms for connected ‘things’ become increasingly integrated with those associated with traditional mobile devices that connect humans, all sorts of new IoT/enterprise mobility app development, device/app management and security combos are going to refresh the services opportunity.

One thought on “Have Managed Mobility Services Commoditized or Are They Just Humming Along?

  1. Although I agree with most of your observations about mobile communication services, I would highlight the increased role that CEBP can now play in automated, proactive business notifications. I will be addressing that issue with my colleague, Kevin Kieller, at next week’s UC Summit in La Jolla, CA.

    BTW, “UC” s being replaced with “BC” (Business Communications) for the more comprehensive view of all forms of business interactions with people.)

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