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Organizations Still Need Niche Vendors to Round Out Mobility Strategy

As IT organizations try to drive better user satisfaction and more nimble operations through mobility, they're increasingly turning to service providers and systems integrators to overcome a gap in resources and expertise. What they're finding, however, is that those providers and vendors still lack the end-to-end capabilities necessary to offer everything they need in one go. Until these providers build out their offerings through either consolidation or program development, enterprises are stuck cobbling together third-party support from a range of niche vendors.

About as fragmented as the market for mobile devices and platforms themselves, today's typical enterprise mobility strategy is suffering from compartmentalization syndrome, according to analysts.

"Most enterprises that I talk to look at the problem in a very myopic way," says Paul DeBeasi, a research VP at Gartner. "They'll look at mobile applications or they'll look at mobile security or they'll look at mobile device management, and they don't look at the whole thing together."

DeBeasi says an enterprise should take a holistic view of its mobile strategy. "This is really an architectural issue," he explains. "It's not a feature issue. And so you need to have the right group of people with the right skill set to solve the problem in a holistic and architectural way."

Traditionally, mobility strategy has meant one thing for many IT leaders: Research in Motion (RIM). For so many years, deployment of BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) has been the singular element of many an organization's mobility strategy. But the withering of BlackBerry on the vine has left many of these RIM-dependent organizations with their pants down.

According to Vishal Jain, a mobile services analyst at 451 Research, the rise of iOS and Android and the waning of user interest in BlackBerry devices has directly affected the role BES plays in the enterprise. As it becomes more irrelevant, or at least tertiary to most mobile strategies, organizations are required to manage a lot more moving parts within the architectural stack of an enterprise-capable iOS and Android infrastructure.

"Since iOS and Android are not just email but also apps, the question is not just device management, but the entire stack management, from devices to apps to data," he explains.

Unfortunately, many enterprises simply don't have the manpower or expertise to fully design, implement and manage this stack, which is leading more to the rise of outsourced service and systems integration offerings.

"As time passes, we are seeing more IT organizations adopt a managed services approach to managing mobility," says Britt Libby, an analyst at VDC Research. "We are also seeing the range and type of services procured in this manner expand over time."

As many IT organizations already outsource the management of their traditional networks in terms of wireless network infrastructure and Internet, Libby says, the concept of outsourcing even more facets of a mobility strategy is hardly foreign. According to Libby's firm, the managed mobile services market is shaping up to be the strongest segment of managed IT services within the next 12 to 24 months.

Next: More Managed Mobility Will Mean More Convergence

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