• In 2012, IT service providers (ITSPs) are increasingly focused on mobility as a growth area for consulting and managed services. What are their focus areas today and what have they added to their portfolios? (See IT Service Providers Focus on Apps and Security, November 5, 2012)
• How do ITSPs differ from mobile operators and should the latter worry about direct competition?
This year the top global ITSPs are focusing not only on managed services and consulting for mobility deployments, but there is an increased emphasis on new areas including: consulting, implementation and managed services to help with BYOD; virtualization for mobile devices, mobile application development and delivery; and mobile security. These are many of the same service areas that are in mobile operators’ managed mobility portfolios.
Not surprisingly, ITSPs are especially adept at helping large MNCs with application development, virtualization, and providing consulting on business transformation. The operators, on the other hand, are adding options to their core managed mobility services (MMS) portfolios for application and content management, mobile security, and cloud delivery of mobile apps. They are also offering consulting relating to security policy, BYOD, and application management. Clearly there is increasing overlap between the two sets of service providers.
Current Analysis recommends the following strategies to further the interests of both ITSPs and operators:
• ITSPs generally look at large enterprises and MNCs and are missing potential opportunities in the mid-market and SMB segment. Managed mobility services should be palatable to a larger set of companies as smaller companies have even fewer in-house IT staff than large enterprises do to deal with the complexities of BYOD and multi-OS environments, mobile device management (MDM), and security.
• Mobile operators are coming up the curve rapidly when it comes to professional services for mobility. The ITSPs see themselves as better positioned to help companies with multiple carrier relationships, but enterprises seem relatively unconcerned with any possible bias from the operators. Partnerships with operators in areas where there are significantly different skill sets make sense (e.g., business transformation analysis, application development, and analytics are areas where ITSPs are more likely to have experience and resources than operators).
• Current Analysis sees application management coupled with enterprise app stores, and mobile security (including app-wrapping) as key areas for differentiation in 2012, somewhat replacing MDM and TEM which, while still important, have commoditized and are not significantly unique from provider to provider. Applications offer different models for monetization including the provision of pre-fabricated mobile apps that need little customization as an excellent resource for smaller companies.
• Mobile operators are trialing dual persona solutions but few talk about virtualization – i.e., providing a consistent desktop image across all devices, including smartphones and tablets. Nearly all ITSPs are active in this segment as it spills over from their efforts on the PC and desktop side of the house. Operators should learn from ITSPs that this is an alternate way to manage and secure mobile devices and separate business from personal data in a BYOD world.