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MDM madness

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By my estimation there is probably around 170 mobile device management (MDM) software solutions on the market. I find this statistic startling. IT departments face enough challenges when creating, maintaining and continuing to refine their Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies without the added confusion of who to turn to manage those devices.

While the likes of US research company MarketsandMarkets predict that the MDM market is set to explode - from $1.01 billion last year to $3.94 billion by 2019, we believe that the market is set for some serious consolidation. This is unlikely to impact the value of the market, but it will hopefully result in clearer, simpler MDM offerings.

Currently, the MDM market is being driven by data security concerns. IT departments, already under pressure to protect data on enterprise-owned devices, are now having to consider how to manage and secure data on devices they have no control over. This is where a good MDM solution comes into its own. The ability to support multiple OS and mobile platforms, to provide devices with managed access to the network, to be able to update apps, all the while maintaining protection on the network is essential to securing the enterprise.

But can the market support such a huge number of solutions that all aim to provide the same service? I don't believe so. I think that it's likely we'll see a period of mergers and acquisition. Providers that lack support for a specific OS will look to integrate with a provider that can; others that lack specific features will seek companies who have them. As a result it's unlikely that all 170 MDM providers will exist in the same format in five years time. And that's good news for customers. They will benefit from richer features, with providers that are able to meet all their needs rather than some.

What's really interesting however, is the potential impact of the Cloud on the MDM market. As more of the enterprise is moved into the Cloud - so is the data it relies on to do business. It follows then that if all data is in the Cloud, then nothing need be stored on personal devices. This takes away the security nightmare faced by IT in managing BYOD, and reduces MDM to updates and management - what it's really good at.

However, as the market develops one thing is for sure - BYOD and placing control of hardware into the hands of users and away from IT is only going to grow in complexity. As mobile providers we need to ensure that we bring simplicity to IT rather than making it any more challenging than it already is.

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