MWC 2014: Enterprise Mobility & The Fragmentosphere

The world of enterprise mobility continues to evolve quickly. Prior to the sow, the big news was VMWare’s acquisition of AirWatch. Fitting news, since the big news last year was AirWatch’s massive $250 million venture raise a few weeks ahead of the show.

The problem facing this industry is that no one has a clear definition of what we are talking about. Many of the leading players including AirWatch, Good Technology and Mobile Iron, are focused first and foremost on Mobile Device Management (MDM), or the ability of a corporate IT department to remotely control a mobile device – limiting access to behind-the-firewall data or remotely wiping a stolen device. But I am not sure that this is what customers really want, it strikes me more as a software suite that makes clever use of what the OS platforms allow. A case of technology leading the way, regardless of the problem that needs to be addressed.

The OS platforms themselves are part of the problem. Android allows pretty much anything which creates its own set of security issues, while iOS offers some good features, but only those features and no more.

It is unclear if enterprise IT departments really want much of this. I know many companies that let their users access email through native mail clients and their already-installed Microsoft Exchange servers. This is not super secure, but it is secure enough for most users, and easy to install. The growing use of Box and Dropbox among companies also facilitates file sharing. Again, not 100% secure, but good enough for most uses.

Instead, I think enterprise IT buyers want ways to access mobile apps which easily interact with their existing infrastructure. Easy ways to plug mobile apps into their saleforce.com, Oracle and SAP deployments. Larger companies want ways to build internal apps for mobile, quickly and cheaply. As a result, I think many of the enterprise mobility apps out there will end up inside larger companies like VMWare. But there is still a lot of room for improvement and innovation.

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