Q3 Sees Strong Rugged Mobile Performance Across the Board

During Q3 2014 all rugged mobile form factors tracked – including notebooks, tablets, forklift mounted computers and handheld devices – posted year-over-year (YoY) growth, with notebooks and handheld devices leading the way. While the market dynamics for these solutions are increasingly encouraging, noticeable headwinds remain, limiting the growth potential over the next several quarters.

Rugged notebook shipments reached nearly $275 million in Q3, representing an increase of more than 10%, representing the second consecutive quarter of growth. The primary catalyst behind the recent swing in demand has been the retirement of aging systems running Windows XP. While that boost is likely to be short-lived, spending trends in target commercial and public sector segments remain positive. Nevertheless, price sensitivity will continue driving end users to opt for less rugged notebooks or alternative form factors such as tablets for their next-generation investments.

The rugged tablet market, the one consistent growth segment with quarterly growth upwards of 20% for the past two years, is showing signs of slowing. In Q3, tablets saw 12.7% year-on-year growth, which while strong, nevertheless represents a maturing of the market and the third consecutive quarter in which performance has eased from the previous quarter. Still, VDC anticipates that the rugged tablet market will top $500 million in 2014 and that the increased adoption of Android will present a growing opportunity as more enterprises move to adopt the OS for line-of-business applications.

The rugged handheld market, which represents the single-largest category at nearly $600 million, has begun to overcome the headwinds that had buffeted it throughout 2013 and into the first half of 2014. While the threat from lower-priced consumer smartphones remains, rugged vendors are modernizing their product portfolios with products more in line with customer expectations. Moreover, addressing the OS issue plaguing this category, adoption of rugged handheld devices running Android is reaching critical mass, including adoption by tier-I accounts in North America. The North American market had borne the brunt of the downturn but has rebounded in force, ending several consecutive quarters of contraction with year-on-year growth for Q3 topping 20%, supported by large-scale deployments in the retail and postal sectors. 

Q3 PR exhibit


VC $'s Flowing into Mobile Development Startups

More than $200M has been invested in notable vendors that are participating in mobile development platform and tools market in just the past ~12 months.

Significant venture capital investments continue to pour into the mobile development platform and tools space. More than $200M has been invested in notable vendors that are participating in this market in just the past 12 months (see below). VC's who are banking on successful exits have reason to optimistic in our view.


On the M&A front, there have been two notable (and recent) acquisitions. mBaaS vendor FeedHenry was acquired by Red Hat in September 2014 for $82M, and testing and UI framework specialist Telerik was acquired by Progress Software in October 2014 for $262.5M. These are large transactions when compared to prior acquisitions in this space, which were on the smaller end of the spectrum (RhoMobile by Motorola, Nitobi by Adobe, and Worklight by IBM).

VDC believes that M&A in the space will be on the rise in terms of the size and number of acquisitions; this is natural in a rapidly evolving space. Core engineering will play a big part in vetting the valuation of future transactions with open technology, scalability, security, and resilience leading the charge. VDC sees valuations rising, based not only on revenue and progress with customer acquisition but on innovation and the ability to tie into broader ecosystems and emerging markets.

There are several logical buckets for potential consolidators in this space. Large enterprise software/middleware (such as IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP); Cloud vendors in the PaaS space who are looking to augment their mobile capabilities (e.g., Amazon, Citrix, Salesforce, VMware etc.); application lifecycle vendors (such as Adobe, Opentext, and Progress Software); mobile solutions providers (such as Intel and Synchronous); and potentially IT professional service providers looking to integrate and assemble their own solution to service their customers. We also believe there will be consolidation among the distribution, discovery, and analytics players. In summary, we believe the mobile applications space has reached an inflection point and thus will gain increased interest on both the funding and M&A front.

For more insights into our coverage of the mobile development platforms and tools market you can download the executive brief to the recent Report that we published on this topic.


Symbol TC70...Bridging the Gap to 'Modern' Rugged Handheld Devices

While we do not typically write product reviews, the recently released Motorola/Symbol/Zebra TC70 did catch our attention. To suggest that the rugged handheld market has been struggling through an identity crisis over the past several years is perhaps putting it mildly. While other mobile categories such as smartphones and tablets have been growing at a furious pace, the rugged handheld market has contracted, and in some cases fairly significantly. There have been a couple of factors at play contributing to this protracted malaise creating somewhat of a perfect storm:

  • Competition from lower cost consumer devices
  • Perception of rugged mobile technology as lagging key trends
  • Overall investment climate and access to capital
  • Rugged handheld OS roadmap confusion

Competition from consumer devices is not going away, although several larger scale deployments have left something to be desired. However, a natural correction to the market has occurred whereby consumer devices have displaced rugged devices because at the time of deployment there was no viable alternative. Now there is. So as a result there has been a natural correction in the market to the effect of approximately 15-25% of the opportunity. That said, the use of consumer devices to support enterprise workflows has mostly been additive to the overall opportunity. In other words more mobile workers are being equipped with mobile devices to automate processes. 

However, the bottom line is that today's rugged handheld product portfolios leave something to be desired. While the use cases for many of these devices are unique, and utility and reliability clearly trump ID and design as key features, justifying rugged investments for many organizations has become increasingly difficult. There are many factors that have contributed to this situation, with perhaps the most glaring being the perception that rugged technology vendors are significantly lagging key technology trends. In a recent survey among enterprise mobility decision makers, four in ten shared in this sentiment.

A key headwind for rugged vendors has come in the form of their OS strategy. Long the domain of Windows Mobile/Windows CE, vendors and end users have been confronted by the reality that these existing platforms were no longer being invested in by Microsoft and that support would be available through 2020. While that may seem like a long time away, making major investments in a dead end platform - especially when considering the security breaches encountered by major end users - is not a winning proposition for end users. Microsoft's efforts to win over rugged handheld OEMs to commit resources to their next generation solution - Windows Embedded Handheld 8/8.1 - has not been fruitful with only two products to show for. 

The obvious alternative has been Android. However, broader enterprise support for Android, especially for mission critical applications, has until recently been tenuous with security and platform life-cycle management being the key issues. That is now changing, especially outside the US but also within. We are seeing this clearly translate in the rugged handheld market as shipments of rugged handheld devices running Android reaching critical mass in 2014 and the number of mobile ISVs supporting Android grows. That is not to say there is not pent up demand for a strong Microsoft solution going forward (many end users are very conservative and would rather maintain the status quo), there is a viable alternative that reflects the next generation of rugged handheld computing.

Which brings us back to the Symbol TC70. Forgetting for a second its many confusing names (it was released in the midst of Zebra closing its acquisition of Motorola Solutions Enterprise BU) it represents to us one of the best interpretations of what the market is looking for. Taking design cues from consumer devices the TC70 has a large, crisp and responsive display that can support a variety of interactions including gloved hands and when wet. Similarly important is its ability to support a conductive stylus for signature capture. Running Android 4.4.2, part of the KitKat generation, the device does not have the locked down feel of earlier rugged Andrdoid translations. However, the Mx extensions address many of the enterprise 'gaps' with Android. 

In comparison to other Android devices in the portfolio (the MC 40 and TC55) this device is the clear workhorse in terms of ruggedness, battery life and overall functionality. Critical is the embedded industrial imager which can decode virtually any 1D/2D symbology in most lighting conditions from up to 3ft. It is heavy, but also sufficiently ergonomic so it can be handled comfortably. The price point, especially among today's price sensitive buyers, will be a challenge. It is important to note that these are devices that are used on average for 4-5 years and not recycled every 18-24 months. However, a sentiment among end users is that with the rapid change of mobile technology, end users want to benefit faster from that innovation by adopting faster replacement cycles. Truth be told, much of the "innovation" happening among mobile devices today is mostly iterative (faster processor, larger display, radio upgrade) rather than being truly trans-formative. 

While the debate over the true value of rugged will not go away, what products like the TC70 will do is provide a meaningful and modern mobile platform that organizations with mission and business critical work-flows can confidently leverage. 


Many SMEs in Field Services are still Conservative in Employing Mobility Solutions

Despite the buzz that surrounds enterprise mobility, the fact remains that a large percentage of SMEs have yet to integrate mobile software and hardware solutions into their line of business (LOB) applications. A recent survey from Software Advice, a company that researches and reviews field service solutions, revealed a surprisingly high number of respondents continue to rely on manual documentation, including paper and whiteboards for their LOB operations. Those who use software frequently rely on basic software like Excel and Quickbooks to handle operations for which they are not optimized. Often, this can be due to a combination of factors that include budgetary constraints, a lack of awareness of available solutions, and a tendency to stay with familiar ways of operating. The latter factor belies a conservative streak in many organizations that can transcend company size and lead to mobile deployments that run on decade-old technology. This is evidenced in the uptick of upgrades following the retirement of Windows XP as a Microsoft-supported OS. 


Software Advice’s findings are consistent with findings from VDC’s research, which shows that companies with fewer than 50 employees account for less than 20% of respondents with hardware and software deployments in field service settings. Frequently, the greatest barriers to entry are budgetary, as findings from a VDC end-user survey revealed that budget remains the top obstacle to implementing mobile solutions, particularly in smaller companies.


Organizations that do implement mobile solutions, though, are looking for operational gains from their workforce. VDC’s data shows that the single-greatest metric for measuring mobility solutions in field service applications is improved worker productivity, followed by improved worker communication and collaboration – findings that are consistent with Software Advice’s data, which shows that the top reason for purchasing software is to increase organization and efficiency. As a result, it does not come as a surprise that the top applications supported among VDC respondents include dispatch management and scheduling, asset management, maintenance & repair, and field sales, although there is a growing trend among respondents to flesh out the applications supported to improve customer loyalty and enhance their competitive differentiation.

As VDC has noted in previous reports, the key for vendors looking to continue the mobilization trend within field services will be in providing tactical rather than strategic support for potential clients.  Software Advice’s findings that an overwhelming majority (97%) of respondents wants an integrate suite to manage their business needs are in tune with the belief that SAP Bill McDermott underscored at this year’s SAP SapphireNOW: “In the end, the suite always wins. Always has. Always will.” We agree and see evidence of this in the M&A activity occurring within the mobile ecosystem.  However, while mobile enablement initiatives are underway in this industry vertical and others, there still is quite a way to go in terms of implementing the appropriate infrastructure and software for true mobile enablement for SMEs. 


Samsung Continues to Expand its Enterprise Presence Through Samsung 360 Services

This summer, Samsung hired several key executives from BlackBerry and Nokia, and Disney to bolster its position in the enterprise market. The most notable was Robin Bienfait who was named executive vice president and chief enterprise innovation officer of Samsung's global enterprise services unit. Bienfait was previously BlackBerry's CIO, where she led the company's enterprise business unit, end-to-end security, customer service engagement, global network services and corporate IT functions.  Bienfait also brought fellow BlackBerry alumna Donna Henderson with her who will be instrumental in executing Samsung’s expansion into mobile enterprise services. The hires come at a time when Samsung is trying to present itself to government agencies and enterprises as a viable alternative to BlackBerry devices and Apple in corporate environments.

In addition to the hirings and revamping its Knox security software, with this year’s re-launch of KNOX 2.0, Samsung introduced its Global Enterprise Services, dubbed Samsung 360 Services for Businesses. The offering includes technical support and management for enterprise and security applications, as well as for the devices themselves. However, as some have noted, the surprising element is that these services are aimed not just at Samsung devices or devices within the Android ecosystem, but to the mobile device ecosystem writ large, regardless of make or platform. Critics have called the move iterative of Apple’s partnering with IBM to combine Apple’s devices with Big Blue’s applications and services, but the move does speak to the growing trend towards services as a more primary means of competitive differentiation.

The benefits for the enterprise are straightforward – faster deployments, and reduced cost and complexity – and providing firms with the opportunity to focus on more strategic tasks. Bottom line, many enterprises have limited mobile IT expertise and lack the infrastructure, management and application development platforms required for mobile enablement.

Mobility service specialists firms such as DMI, Enterprise Mobile, ISEC7, MSC Mobility and Peak-Ryzek (to name a few) are the most visible vendors with sophisticated mobile service offerings, although awareness of such as firms remains low, as they typically cater to regional markets and need partners to scale. However, these firms have demonstrated that they can cater to large deployment environments with extensive enterprise-grade mobility requirements. For this reason, VDC sees these firms as important regional partners for Samsung moving forward and could provide these firms with a significant boost to scale their businesses on a global level.

Large global SIs have sharpened their focus on their mobility services offerings and have launched mobile-specific business units. There is no question that these firms will be formidable competitors for Samsung – however, we see Samsung as having an advantage due to the partnerships it has formed with key enterprise mobility ISVs.

The service is anticipated to launch to a select group of pilot customers this quarter, with a full market launch in Q1 2015, and the anticipation of expansion into EMEA and APAC, as well as a broadening of the solutions portfolio beyond the initial offerings. While its range of mobile services being offered is robust, VDC believes that Samsung should incorporate Telecom Expense Management (TEM) to cater to its customers’ diverse deployment environment and varied device ownership models. While this could be considered an adjacent service, we see it as complementary services to those provided under Samsung 360 brand, and their omission would detract from Samsung’s desire to offer a holistic, one-stop shop for enterprise mobile support. Larger companies like SAP have already moved to partner with TEM providers like Tangoe, and a Samsung partnership with vendors like MobiDM or Tangoe would be smart move to complement its mobile managed service offerings. In that vein, Samsung has alluded that they are in discussions with several TEM vendors.

The question remains, though, as to whether hardware vendors can become truly platform agnostic to provide effective multi-platform support services. While it remains relatively easy to provide cross-platform support, the capabilities need to be the same on all levels, as do the rollouts to be truly successful in that sphere. This is an entirely new strategy for Samsung, who is looking to counter Apple’s recent strategic partnership with IBM; however, while the key hires to spearhead the 360 Services initiative were a required first step, it will require a significant financial commitment and will take time to bear fruit. Based on the company’s recent poor device forecast, this strategy becomes all the more critical moving forward. 

with Eric Klein, Senior Analyst


HP Splits: No Longer "Stronger Together"

A move initially suggested by ousted CEO Leo Apotheker and previously shunned by now CEO Meg Whitman came to light when on Monday HP officially announced it was splitting into two companies: HP Enterprise and HP Inc. (Note, Apotheker suggested an outright sale of the PC/Printer business). This is not to suggest that Meg is following Leo's blueprint but rather that this was not her original plan. Clearly over the past three years through targeted - and often deep - RIFs and internal reorganization, the 2014 HP has Meg's fingerprints all over it. Moreover, from a financial perspective the company is in a significantly better position having paid down debt and increased its cash reserves. Wall Street responded favorably to the move with shares up almost 5% on Monday. Part of the sales pitch was that while three years ago HP was too weak financially to absorb such a split today it is and today technology company's need to be more nimble to succeed. 

So does this favor HP's enterprise mobility vision? Although it recently ceded its number one position to Lenovo, HP is still the second largest supplier of PCs with strong enterprise ties. However, the (Windows) PC business spells trouble, even with the recent Windows XP EOL boost. HP's operating profit margin on PCs are only worsening with little reprieve in sight. In addition, HP's overtures into the broader mobile market have been anything but seamless. Gone are the days of the iconic iPaq and HP's failed acquisition of Palm does not need retelling. However, over the past several years, HP has honed its enterprise mobility capabilities, especially through its professional services and software offerings. HP has been expanding its mobile services, anchored by its Enterprise Cloud Services (ECS) - Mobility offering that provides a cloud-based mobile management platform. Sector specific capabilities, such as HP's FedRAMP authorized cloud for US Public Sector clients, further differentiate its portfolio. 

From an enterprise mobility perspective, the hope is that this move permits HP to focus more strategically and act more efficiently. While HP's mobile solutions portfolio is rich - spanning mobile managed services, application development and testing and security solutions - it often seems a step or two behind and more of a reactive participant. HP has a strong and loyal user base, great brand recognition and generates the cash flow necessary to aggressively invest in R&D and/or M&A. Where has and can continue to innovate and deliver value will be around professional services and especially custom (mobile) software development. It is here where we see the opportunity for HP to really make its name in enterprise mobility. 



LANDESK consolidates mobile productivity position with Naurtech acquisition

Yesterday, Systems user-oriented IT solutions provider LANDESK announced its acquisition of Naurtech, a firm that develops connectivity solutions to provide mobile access to enterprise data and applications for devices running Windows CE. The move represents the firm’s third mobility acquisition in three years and consolidates LANDESK’s terminal emulation capabilities, which, while somewhat niche, remain central for industry segments like warehousing and manufacturing. Despite being a somewhat older technology when compared to other branches of enterprise mobility products and solutions, the ability to integrate from the backend is critical. While Naurtech has remained a relatively quiet brand to date, it nevertheless has a longstanding history that compliments the capabilities of Wavelink, an enterprise mobility firm that provides terminal emulation, voice-enabled productivity software and device management solutions acquired by LANDESK in 2012. As Vice President of mobile productivity business Steve Bemis notes, “Naurtech brings complementary expertise that will strengthen support for our mobile operating systems and provide support for additional ruggedized devices.”

In addition to providing access to certain segments of the market – like aviation and retail – to which LANDESK previously did not have, the acquisition of Naurtech fills an important gap by providing one of the only SAP-ready solutions to the market. The existing relationship gives the firm a distinct advantage for organizations looking to improve line-of-business worker productivity within a SAP framework. The acquisition also serves as an investment in engineering as Wavelink takes over to modernize and advance mobile platforms for LOB solutions moving forward.

Although not a market moving deal, the transaction does fortify Wavelink’s leadership position in TE for mobile line of business applications. In addition to plugging a key gap in its solution and partner portfolio, Wavelink has the opportunity to leverage Naurtech’s engineering and development resources to lead much needed mobile application modernization within its target markets.  

With David Krebs, Executive Vice President


VDC Releases Results of its Quarterly Rugged Device Tracker

This week, VDC published the results of its quarterly device tracker, which follows both quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year figures for major OEMs both globally and by region.

Notebooks on the rebound

After six consecutive quarters of contraction, the rugged notebook market is showing signs of life, growing nearly 10% year-on-year in Q2 2014, rising to over 100,000 units shipped for the quarter. This comes after a particularly difficult year, in which the continued effects of GD-Itronix’s exit from the market and budget restrictions in the wake of the government shutdown struck a market grappling with the trend of tablets being increasingly deployed in line of business applications as a notebook replacement. With a few notable exceptions, all major vendors tracked by VDC saw growth in Q2, with some companies recording growth in the double-digits over Q2 2013. This return to growth is not limited to rugged devices, as major consumer-grade manufacturers are also reporting strong YoY performance. One of the key catalysts in this return to positive figures is the replacement of legacy devices running on now-retired XP. This factor, in addition to US military contracts and state-level conditions driving enterprise opportunities, has primarily fueled notebook growth, which could continue its trend with the release of newly-announced Windows 10 in late 2014/early 2015.

Tablet growth is strong but slowing

Tablets remain one of the best-performing form factors among rugged mobile devices – the market for rugged tablets grew 16% in Q2 2014 over the previous year, with EMEA showing an uptick of 37% year-on-year. Despite a solid global performance, the blistering pace of acquisition has begun to cool to less heated rates, down from rates of nearly 40% in H2 2013 (where certain vendors recorded triple-digit YoY growth) to more sustainable levels as the market begins to mature. While organizations are finding the limits of using tablets as a notebook replacement, the benefits of the form factor remain tangible and strong. Although rugged tablets run primarily on a more traditional WinTel platform, the barriers that have prevented a more widespread adoption of Android devices, including a lack of viable applications and limited product portfolio, are being overcome and could gain momentum in H2 2014, moving into 2015.

Handheld devices remain in flux

The rugged handheld market remained weak through Q2 2014, which saw a lessening contraction of 7.9% year on year vs. -8.8% for Q1 2014. The headwinds from investment/upgrade delays, limited access to capital and competition from lower-cost smartphones continue to persist, although several notable Tier-1 deals provided some lift in Q2 and are expected to have a greater impact in the second half of the year. Much of the hesitation revolves around OS uncertainty, which has continued well into 2014 as the number of devices featuring Windows Embedded 8.1 remains low among rugged vendors, and many are hesitant to embrace Android as an alternative OS for line-of-business applications. An embedded version of Windows 10 could alleviate the situation, but the question remains as to how quickly a new embedded Windows OS could be rolled out before extended refresh cycles need to be considered.

Sluggish performance for vehicle-mounted devices

Despite modest quarter-on-quarter growth, the vehicle-mounted market contracted year-on-year for the second consecutive quarter by 1.6%. There has been considerable encroachment from tablets, particularly in areas like public safety. With the growing functionality and display size of tablet devices, many organizations are looking to tablets as a lower-cost alternative to specialized vehicle-mounted devices. As a result, vendors are increasingly looking to consolidate their reach and focus more on niche markets where they are able to have greater control; frequently, these markets are “heavy duty” applications that include mining, construction, logistics, and warehousing. Although the market is almost exclusively the domain of Window, the question remains as to which version of the OS (embedded versus full professional) will gain sway, as IT departments are increasingly looking to these devices to function more as a PC than as a mobile device or terminal emulator as the ability to multitask and improvements in connectivity continue to grow. 

For more information, click here

For a copy of the report, please email info@vdcresearch.com 


AT&T‘s 2020 Vision and Digital First Transformation


VDC had the opportunity to attend AT&T’s annual Analyst Summit last week in Dallas, Texas, and came away with a clear purview into the company’s mobile ambitions moving forward. The company issued several notable news releases to coincide with the event — the announcements all show that AT&T is moving in a coordinated way to ensure its participation in the ever expanding mobile ecosystem. In this vein, AT&T’s executives did a great job in articulating how the company’s network build commitment (project VIP) along with its digital-first strategy would help lead its customers toward the business transformational opportunity of mobile enablement.

The releases covered a variety of strategic areas of focus for AT&T:

Secure Cloud Access: Through a strategic partnership with IBM, AT&T revealed that it can now offer its customers on-demand access to IBM’s SoftLayer (IBM’s cloud infrastructure as a service and managed hosting platform) through its network-enabled cloud solution (NetBond). The service will give both companies’ customers the ability to dynamically allocate VPN bandwidth and allow them to scale their IT resources and to expand their hybrid cloud solutions. (AT&T also has established key partnerships for its NetBond offering with Amazon, Box, CSC, Equinix, HP, Microsoft, Salesforce.com, and VMware). The service will be generally available in Q1 of 2015 (Whirlpool was mentioned as an early adopter that has begun to take advantage of the new service offering).

“Network on Demand”: AT&T announced a self-service portal that will allow business customers to add and change network services in near real time (In 90 seconds, according to John Donovan, AT&T’s SVP of Architecture, Technology and Operations.) Even though they would benefit from access to higher bandwidth circuits, many of AT&T’s customers are not doing so, despite the declining cost of bandwidth — we see bandwidth on demand solutions like AT&T’s as a great solution to this problem, as many companies are paying for bandwidth they are not using on a regular basis.

API platform enhancements: The company is wisely looking for ways to give its resellers and partners all of the tools they need to create applications and value-added services (e.g., giving them the ability to customize the quoting and ordering experience for their sales teams and business customers).

Not Much of a Toggle Update

While AT&T Toggle containerization solution was mentioned, there was no deep dive provided – this was disappointing. However, Sundhar Annamalai, a key executive in the Advanced Solutions Business did articulate to us how carriers such as AT&T have a distinct advantage, due to their ability to complement the solution with elements such as split billing and deeply integrate with complementary services, such as Box, using their NetBond solution.

Business Solutions + Mobility Means Cloud First for AT&T

Most of AT&T’s senior leadership participated at this event – we were impressed with their ability to stay on message and agree that enhancing their cloud capabilities and partner ecosystem will be critical for their ability to service the 2020 workforce that they envision. AT&T’s new mobility chief, Glenn Lurie, discussed the rapid evolution of mobility, and shared details of the progress AT&T has made with their connected car platform — named Drive — which was launched at CES earlier this year. Lurie’s speech was accompanied by a forward-looking video that showcased AT&T Digital Life strategy and was demonstrative of how important the company’s transition to an all-digital, IP-based network will be, moving forward.  We see the Digital Life solution as an interesting SMB offering moving forward. The solution began as a relatively basic home automation solution that featured a connected thermostat as its foundational solution component, but it is without question moving into vehicles. Lurie spoke of our devices as being “remote controls” for our lives — very compelling indeed. AT&T will need to continue to develop its cloud ecosystem to move many of its key initiatives forward — it was clear that this was in the works.


“Our vision is to smartly connect companies and people in all major industries … from GM cars to GE locomotives and medical technologies, we are making those connections and seizing the opportunity both here in the U.S. and globally.”

President and CEO of AT&T Mobile and Business Solutions

GE – Long Time and Key Customer

GE Software’s GM, Brad Surak, discussed how his company was moving forward with its initiatives to reinvent its future services portfolio by leveraging global connectivity in using AT&T’s Global SIM technology and network to optimize the transport of industrial data. Surak showed compelling data of how GE is “driving outcomes that matter”. While our market data consistently shows how large the opportunity is to instrument equipment from an end-user perspective, Surak shared revenue metrics that showed just how significant the opportunity can potentially be moving forward. Examples Surak showed included: the $27B opportunity globally to increasing freight utilization by reducing system inefficiency; the massive $60B+ opportunities to take advantage of predictive maintenance and diagnostics to reduce process inefficiencies in healthcare and the energy sector by reducing waste in gas-fired power plants. The data source was not cited, but it demonstates why technology investments and infrastructure modernization must become top strategic priorities and play a key role moving forward. In that vein, transforming processes was a big theme — Abhi Ingle, who is charged with running AT&T Advanced Solutions business, showed how solutions such as enhanced push-to-talk will continue to play an important role in improving collaboration and why field solutions will continue to be key business for AT&T. We agree, and see field service automation solutions taking on new important capabilities due to mobile technologies, which will continue to alter the core capabilities of field services personnel.


The event was well rounded with corporate strategy, product plans, client perspectives, and breakout sessions that provided an additional level of insights in key areas of the business including Cloud, Small Business, Mobility, Security and M2M, just to name a few. All in all, the trip to Dallas was time well spent and has us looking forward to the developer event that AT&T hosts each January, prior to CES.


Event Recap: AirWatch Connect

Connecting the Ecosystem

I had the opportunity to attend and present at AirWatch Connect event last week in Atlanta. The event attracted 1,500 of the company's customers and partners who were eager to learn more about AirWatch’s vision for long-term growth. The fact that the company was able draw nearly every big name enterprise-oriented mobility vendor to its event was impressive given that CTIA's marquee event (Super Mobility Week) was taking place at the same time.

Since its acquisition by VMware earlier this year, AirWatch has continued on a considerable growth path, with a roughly 50% uptick to its customer roster (from 7,000 to 13,000) and a strong pipeline heading into Q4. Based on this progress, the product enhancements that were shared, and discussions with AirWatch and VMware executives, it is clear that the company is successfully implementing ways in which to further engage with its tenured customers and expand their deployments beyond basic MDM to more sophisticated mobile offerings, such as its containerization and secure content locker solutions.

AirWatch CEO John Marshall's keynote set the stage for the company's executive vision, described as utilizing innovation within its mobility platform and solution portfolio to assist customers in solving business problems (tight integration with best-of-breed and complementary go-to-market partners is also a key strength for the company). AirWatch made several announcements to broaden its opportunity and move customers (both current and prospective) along on their mobile journeys.

Seamless Integration with an Expanded Roster of Partners

Details of the company's plan to partner with mobile app development vendors were revealed - the program (named AppShield) will help to ensure that mobile app development platform products will work seamlessly with AirWatch's MAM SDK and app wrapping tools. Partners announced included Adobe, Appcelerator, Kony, MicroStrategy, Oracle, salesforce.com, Sencha, Telerik and Xamarin. AirWatch also shared details of its next generation of email solutions (AirWatch Inbox) which features extended security capabilities and improved usability (key improvements include a one-click dial-in for conference calls, and an optimized experience for iPad users) the solution also now features S/MIME for secure and encrypted messaging.

AirWatch also showcased its solution for managing desktops (specifically Macs); the demonstration noticeably impressed the audience, as it made managing and provisioning a Mac for a new user look both seamless and intuitive. Finally, the company revealed a new solution for the education market with tools designed specifically for teachers such as All Eyes Up Front, which temporarily disables devices to draw attention to the front of the classroom - the solution also allows teachers to create virtual classes and lock students into specific apps to keep the focus on education and eliminate distractions from games, videos and social networking. To its credit, AirWatch began focusing on the education vertical early on - the strategy has clearly payed off, as the company has secured several of the largest educational institutions as customers (including the largest, the Los Angeles United School District).

Mobile Managed Services win

Finally, Marshall revealed that VMware had secured a strategic partnership with Capgemini ― this is notable for Airwatch as the company will integrate VMware’s end-user computing solutions (including AirWatch's EMM) with its mobility consulting, application development and system integration expertise. We expect AirWatch (through VMware) to continue to expand its relationships with companies like Capgemini moving forward (coincidentally, HP was very visible and a major sponsor at Connect).

Marshall also described two new capabilities which VDC sees as key for its customer base moving forward - AirWatch Chat and AirWatch Video. Chat will bring customers the ability to communicate instantly and securely while ensuring that company information remains secure. Chat will be an attractive and complementary solution for AirWatch's customers in regulated industries. Similarly, AirWatch Video will give users the ability to share and view videos and will provide customers with a more effective way to push videos to their employees (training immediately comes to mind). Administrators can manage permission content and set expiration dates for videos, while employees can download videos for offline viewing. We expect both of these solutions to be integrated into the company's mobile workspace solution as well as integrate will with Secure Content Locker.

Entering the "Post PC Era"

I delivered a keynote on the Post PC Era, which proved timely and apropos given the attendee profile at Connect. I led off by asking the audience to raise their hands if they were frustrated with the pace of mobile enablement at their company (mind you that most of the companies represented at this event were very likely to be well along on their mobile journey)  and more than half of the room had their hands raised. While not surprising, it nevertheless speaks to the large opportunity ahead for companies like AirWatch and in the enterprise mobility ecosystem in general. While key AirWatch customers such as CSX, Pepsi, Stryker, Target, and United Airlines shared details of the evolution and expansion of their mobile initiatives, the wide majority of businesses we speak with still have a quite a ways to go particularly regarding mobilizing their backends and developing customer mobile applications for their workforce. With its new host of partners and solution refinement that were laid out at Connect, has made the case that it is prepared to help organizations in the post-PC era.


Recent Posts

Q3 Sees Strong Rugged Mobile Performance Across the Board

VC $'s Flowing into Mobile Development Startups

Symbol TC70...Bridging the Gap to 'Modern' Rugged Handheld Devices

Many SMEs in Field Services are still Conservative in Employing Mobility Solutions

Samsung Continues to Expand its Enterprise Presence Through Samsung 360 Services

HP Splits: No Longer "Stronger Together"

LANDESK consolidates mobile productivity position with Naurtech acquisition

VDC Releases Results of its Quarterly Rugged Device Tracker

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