Way back in 2013, Mobile Device Management (MDM) was the primary, if not the lone, occupant of a CIO’s mobility management toolbox. But as enterprise mobility has surged in strategic importance, so has the complexity of managing a mobilized workforce.
MDM is now one of many components that make up an Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution – and some analysts believe MDM has reached commodity status. Though the IT industry has yet to settle on a definitive roster of EMM functions, most observers now consider application and content management to be critical components of a comprehensive solution – as well as infrastructure. When additional functions, namely app development, containers, app wrapping and other security components, are thrown into the mix, EMM emerges as a mosaic of piece parts.
Assembling those pieces into an effective solution is as much art as science.
(Here industry researcher Maribel Lopez provides IT advice for painting a perfect EMM picture.)
Not surprisingly, a debate has broken out over the best approach to EMM. It’s the same time-honored debate that eventually attaches to all technology solutions: best-of-breed vs single vendor.
Each side brings spirited discourse to an issue with no real resolution. Whether it makes better strategic sense for telecommunications carriers or enterprises to turn to discrete components from multiple suppliers or a pre-integrated solution from a single vendor is an argument – similar to philosophical or religious debates — that most often ends in stalemate.
The EMM Exception
But does the same “to each his own” dynamic apply to EMM? A growing consensus in the enterprise mobility market – validated by the hectic consolidation of vendors — suggests that it doesn’t.
As the pool of EMM functions expands, the argument for enterprises to adopt an integrated offering from a single vendor – or a select few suppliers – becomes a persuasive one.
Here are a few reasons why.
1) Overlapping Elements
For starters, the functional components of an EMM solution tend not to come together like puzzle pieces, or even the squares of a quilt, their edges neatly lining up with those of an adjacent function. A mobility management solution, built upon a foundation of security, calls for a considerable degree of overlap among components. Think of the application of multiple blankets to smother a fire or the way a caregiver overlaps the edges of a bandage to fully protect a wound.
2) Tighter Integration
For a less abstract example, consider the relationship among app development, mobile application management (MAM), MDM and security components of a multi-platform EMM. For IT to efficiently manage and secure a mobile app, APIs and other binary links must be baked into the development process using an SDK or added post-compilation through an app wrapping process. A general rule is that the tighter the integration among these EMM elements, the more cohesive, effective and flexible the overall EMM solution.
3) Common Blueprints
Another reason a best-of-breed approach to EMM may not be optimal is a lack of function-defining industry standards. Without a common set of architectural blueprints, enterprises are unable to reap the benefits of perhaps the two most valuable attributes of a best-of-breed solution: straightforward integration and the ability to easily swap out one supplier for another.
All of these factors are putting pressure on organizations of all sizes to partner with EMM suppliers that support the full spectrum of enterprise mobility management. Already on the endangered species list, standalone MDM vendors are one step away from extinction.