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Organizations Still Need Niche Vendors to Round Out Mobility Strategy

Organizations are turning to managed service providers for a more holistic approach to a mobility strategy, according to a recent survey. The problem? Providers and vendors still aren't able to offer end-to-end services. That's where niche vendors come in.

In a recent survey of 433 IT and line-of-business executives conducted by VDC, 45% said they're planning to outsource managed mobility services within the next two years. That's 10% more than the second-highest category of outsourced priorities--converged telecom and network services--and a full 27% above the ratio of those planning outsourcing more established functions like help desk.

In the spring, VDC predicted that the demand for services is likely to drive convergence and consolidation within the market over the long-term.

"Looking at the evolution of the market for traditional managed services, we see many similarities--the flood of startups into the market with innovative solutions and venture funding, staggered acceptance, and adoption of these services and the wave of market acquisitions as an early sign of market convergence," Libby wrote in the report, "Managed Services & Hosted Applications."

The prognostication is slowly starting to come to fruition, with last week's acquisition of Mission Critical Wireless (MCW) by federal mobile consultancy Digital Management Inc. (DMI).

A rapidly growing mobility strategy consultancy catering to the federal market, DMI's business has largely been focused around mobile application management and mobile app store development. In MCW, it picks up not only more traction within the commercial market but also a wider range of mobile infrastructure and mobile device management capabilities that offer what DMI CEO Jay Sunny Bajaj said was a greater capability to add "end-to-end" mobile offerings.

Jain agrees with VDC that convergence is coming and notes that the marriage of DMI and MCW is emblematic of what's happening in the mobile managed services market.

"This deal is representative of how IT service providers are broadening their portfolio of services and mobile device management and mobile application management capabilities," he says. "With growing demand for managing mobile devices, they are bound to build capabilities in this domain. Hence, they will look for such niche service providers in order to build their portfolio across the stack."

Bajaj says that while he believes his company is ahead of the curve on this trend, he thinks it won't be long before DMI has more competition from service providers and systems integrators.

"I would expect that within the next 12 months you'll see lots of other players that are either starting to aggregate solutions for the entire mobile lifecycle or providing more expanded capabilities in specific point solutions," he says.

A big part of this market action is driven by internal IT leadership's battle for relevance in a new era of consumerized IT.

"The risk of not paying attention to your mobile enterprise strategy is having IT lose its relevance," Gartner's DeBeasi warns.

In fact, according to VDC, the two biggest drivers of mobile managed service adoption are improved customer and end-user satisfaction.

According to Dan Croft, founder of MCW, mobility is now most users'--and executives'--window into the IT world. A CIO with a robust mobility strategy gets accolades, while those with locked-down, Draconian mobile environments are given the stink eye.

"CEOs don't walk around with laptops anymore; they walk around with mobile devices," Croft says. "And when they work, the executives think all of IT is functioning. When they don't work, it doesn't matter what else may be functioning, in their view, when they're 1,000 miles away on a business trip and their wireless device isn't accessing the enterprise network, IT isn't working. When that happens, you're in big trouble as the IT manager."

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