Device management: the highest IT priority is now more affordable

Device management: the highest IT priority is now more affordable

Device management is probably the biggest IT need for many organisations and almost certainly the biggest opportunity for resellers and solutions providers

While the explosion of mobile device usage opens up all manner of opportunities for organisations, it also creates a whole new range of issues – especially in terms of device management. Network-attached devices are no longer chained to desks. They’re in people’s pockets.

Smartphones, tablets and laptops may be the most obvious area of concern, but they’re far from being the only one. Few, if any, infrastructures come from one vendor. Desktops, servers, routers, printers and many other devices populate the network. These all need managing too. It’s true that many devices come with their own management tools, but this can still mean using dozens of tools to manage hundreds or thousands of devices. 

The answer is universal device management: using a dedicated tool to manage everything. The problem is the cost, which has traditionally been prohibitive to all but larger companies. Yet even this hasn’t stopped device management becoming a significant market.

When you combine all of these devices (into what’s now often called the Internet of Things – IoT), the managed services market will, according to Research and Markets, be worth a staggering $79.6 billion USD by 2021 – and it’s already valued at a not too shabby $21.85 billion USD. 

As smartphones and tablets become more widely adopted, including those within bring your own device (BYOD) policies, growing concerns about security and access to corporate data are expected to drive IT budgets upwards.

Interestingly, these figures are likely focused on growth within the typical current user base. When SMBs (organisations up to around a thousand people) are factored in, the market is even bigger still.

Setting smartphones aside, we currently don’t have an accurate assessment of the types of devices IoT may ultimately embrace. Lots of the publicity around IoT focuses on consumer devices such as fridges, heating systems, security devices and so on. Who’s to say what IoT devices business will want to manage? Everything from photocopiers to fleet cars is possible.

For static and mobile devices, device management has already moved from being useful to essential. In the future, not managing devices in some way or another will be unthinkable. 

For resellers and solutions providers, device management and mobile device management (often called mobility device management) is perhaps their greatest opportunity for significant growth and sales in the next few years. 

There are two main opportunities. The first is with large companies that typically have some form of device management. For them, the issue is cost, as many solutions are expensive – and rack up additional costs when new types of devices are added. Or, they may be tied to a specific vendor’s hardware. Neither of these shackles is desirable. However, moving isn’t easy, so they’ll need to transition to a new solution carefully, even if the benefits are compelling. 

The second opportunity is with those companies who haven’t yet embraced device management – typically SMBs/SMEs. 

This isn’t a small market. Small- and medium-enterprises (SMEs) account for about 90% percent of businesses and more than 50% of employment worldwide, says the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group. According to the World Bank, in emerging economies, SMBs employ around 45% of the workforce and contribute up to 33% of national income.

The opportunity can’t be overstated. These businesses need a device-management solution – especially one that includes mobile devices. They may not have the deep pockets of bigger businesses, but they have the same requirements, concerns and fears – and the potential for device-management adoption is huge. They will, at some point, adopt device management. It’s up to resellers and solutions providers to decide if they want to be part of this significant market, or if they want to step aside and let their competitors help their customers.