Analyst Perspective: Managed Services

By  Jeff Goldman — July 16, 2010

This is the latest in a series of in-depth interviews with industry analysts, discussing their perspectives on key issues related to BlackBerry use in the enterprise.
David Krebs is practice director for mobile and wireless at VDC Research. With more than 10 years of experience covering the markets for enterprise and government mobility solutions, wireless data communication technologies, and automatic data capture research and consulting, Krebs focuses on identifying the key drivers and enablers in the adoption of mobile and wireless solutions in the enterprise.

With more and more companies supporting both individual-liable and corporate-liable mobile devices, Krebs says, there are very few BlackBerry-only companies remaining. "Organizations are faced with a multiplicity of devices and operating systems... and that's becoming increasingly challenging for organizations to manage and support," he says.

Combine that with the current state of the economy, Krebs says, and you get a real need for managed services. "The IS departments are increasingly understaffed -- one thing that we have been tracking is the increased desire to outsource certain things that were [previously] managed internally... and one area is the management of these mobile devices," he says.

While the percentage of devices under management through a third party organization is currently somewhere in the low to mid teens, Krebs says, VDC Research expects that to reach 40 or 50 percent of all devices by 2015.

And as more and more enterprise applications are deployed on mobile devices, Krebs says support and hosting of the apps themselves is also key. "That's another area people are starting to evaluate -- is this something that you could host through a cloud-based service, a managed service, or a SaaS-based architecture -- that's another area of what we're calling next-generation managed services," he says.

That's an area, Krebs says, that's currently growing steadily. "Right now it's in an exploration phase -- and a lot of that exploration was brought on by organizations [saying], 'Our end users are asking for more and more mobility, and we just can't satisfy the current demand; we've got to find some sort of contingency plans,'" he says. "And third party service providers represent one of those plans."

In general, Krebs says, mobile managed services are developing in stages. "The obvious initial investment area is around traditional device management, security management and expense management," he says. "The next evolution will be around actual applications and the management, the hosting and the provisioning of applications on these devices."

It's not clear yet, Krebs says, whether SMBs or multinational corporations will be the key drivers for these types of offerings. "The initial thinking was that it's perfect for SMB, because it limits some of the risk associated with some of the major investments they have to make in enterprise mobility solutions -- but we've seen similar pressure points in multinationals," he says.

Regardless of a company's size, Krebs says, these types of offerings mean that just about everyone has more options. "The demand out there for more sophisticated applications is what's driving some of the need for newer ways to support this," he says. "Sometimes you just don't have the support internally within an organization to do this, so you're going to have to rely on a third party."

Ultimately, Krebs says, managed services can open up new opportunities for anyone with a mobile workforce. "I think that the development of some of these professional services is going to open up the opportunities for the market -- and will scale the market as well," he says.
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