Mobile Devices

March 14, 2014

IBM Out for Bigger Slice of Mobile Device Management Market

While at an event around the kickoff of Fiberlink's new mobile-as-a-service (MaaS) offering known as MaaS360, the president and COO of Fiberlink offered up a bit of commentary around the mobile device management (MDM) frontier. Clark noted that mobile was “really an age [of its own]” and given the recent new offering from Fiberlink, it makes sense for him to note this. But beyond Clark's note is IBM, Fiberlink's new parent company, who seems increasingly eager to get a slice of this market itself.

The new MaaS360 boasts a set of improved endpoint management tools thanks to Fiberlink's newfound connection with IBM, and gives the whole thing a new importance in terms of MDM, allowing companies to get a better handle on the devices being used in the operation and how best to keep those devices in check. With the bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon quite clearly in play—as Clark noted in some other remarks—it's equally clear that companies need to be ready to handle this new development, but many companies are still behind the curve in terms of managing this new development and putting it in play within current operations.

With a new study showing that nearly half of the decision makers in IT still depend primarily on mobile operating systems' own offerings for both MDM and security, it's clear that management on this front isn't what it could be. But with an offering like that of Fiberlink and IBM, the picture clears significantly, and better protection methods can be engaged in, allowing companies to better take advantage of the growth of the BYOD trend. Indeed, Clark noted that relying on the offerings built into iOS and Android would be an inherently faulty idea, as the operating systems change with each new version, rendering companies left to change strategy every time the operating system is altered.

But even Clark recognizes that MDM is still something of a market in its earliest stages, and many offerings have gaps in function or in sheer device compatibility, a development that really doesn't help businesses either. In this admission, however, Clark shows us exactly why IBM is likely gunning for a slice of this market.

With the BYOD movement gaining ground, and with businesses discovering the benefits inherent in having people bring devices that the people in question enjoy using and working with, there's an increasing push toward looking at how to set up this system. There is clear demand for BYOD, and the things that fuel BYOD. A recent IBM study even showed that improving the customer experience in things like cloud services and BYOD should be high on the list of things to do. IBM likely knows that the desktop market is faltering, but the demand for devices that provide network access and the like—including MDM tools—is not. Getting in on the hardware side of BYOD is a good fit for IBM, and the kind of thing that could really tip this new market in its favor. IBM has name recognition for days, and being able to offer up IBM's reputation in a comparatively new market, well, that's got potential written all over it.

Only time will tell how the move works out, but IBM's entry into the MDM market should be both well- and widely-received. It's still early in the game—anyone else could get in with nearly as much name recognition as IBM—but IBM has a very good shot at success here.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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