Who will win the mobile war?

No, I don’t mean the battle of the determined users of mobile technology versus the IT organizations that are desperately trying to keep company data protected and secure.  I think we already know how that will turn out – users have already won.  Users already have great personal devices, the ability to work anywhere they want and access to all the applications they could ever want to satisfy their need to be both productive and amused.

But that doesn’t mean IT can’t also win, in time.  It will just take longer for them to completely understand all of the risks, to establish all of the right strategies, and to employ all of the best technologies (some that haven’t even been developed yet) to provide the right users essential access to data and guarantee appropriate levels of data protection, without negating the user victory already in place.

But who will help IT find their path to this elusive, yet inevitable victory?  That is the war I am referring to.  Multiple vendors are competing for their attention, to hock their wares and convince companies that they have the leading MDM, MAM, MCM, M?M product that will solve their data security problems and address BYOD concerns equally for all.  There are multiple battles being fought in this war.  The less interesting battles are those where one MDM solution is trying to prove that it is better than the next MDM solution (good luck with that one).  The more interesting battles today are around vision, because I don’t believe that the technologies or solutions that will ultimately win exist yet.

So we can hypothesize about what a winning solution will contain and what it will be able to do.  For example, will a winning solution necessarily have to contain some form of each type of product already available?  MDM may not be able to stand on its own for much longer, but in the end, will that technology have a place in the winning solution?  Probably.  Or will there be some great new single technology that negates all that have come before?  Or will it actually take both to come out on top – to satisfy the ever-changing and infinitely variable needs of multiple industries and use cases?

So this gets to the crux of the leading question.  We may not yet know precisely who will win the war, but perhaps we can determine the characteristics of the type of company that could pull it off.

Consider first that the pace of evolution in the mobility industry is staggering.  As a proof point, many would argue that MDM has already commoditized, well before it had a chance to mature or even come close to saturating the market.  Even with MAM, most companies are already converging on the same essential approach of app wrapping to manage and protect apps.  This pace of evolution would lead me to believe that the smaller players, focused on specific mobility technologies would have the upper hand.  Because we all know that the larger multi-market companies have a very hard time shifting and executing as quickly as the smaller, more focused players, even after the path becomes obvious.

On the other hand, think back to my previous assumption, that the winning solution will likely contain multiple technologies, and perhaps even need to leverage additional technologies that are more mature, but essential to the total solution, like encryption or authentication.  This points us back to the larger players that are better at integrating technologies than achieving organic growth.  But I believe they will only be able to achieve that success if they have the right vision to recognize that game-changing technology that will negate all others when it comes along.  They must then acquire it and quickly create an integrated solution that brings everything together, the older technologies plus the one that makes them obsolete.  Remember that one size does not fit all.  The best technology for the hardest use case will still need to live alongside other technologies that are better suited to simpler and operational use cases.

This is what victory in the mobile war will look like.  But I can’t tell you who it will be – yet.

About Brian Duckering

Technology evangelist, mobility strategist, backpacker, father, husband.
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