The Notebook Market is More “PC Plus” than “Post-PC”

Despite cries that the enterprise notebook is dead, the form factor is making a long-awaited comeback, as businesses realize that tablets are not the notebook replacement they once believed. After a period of declining year-on-year sales, notebooks have been rebounding in the enterprise, as well as showing signs of positive growth in the consumer market. The use of mobile devices to support line-of-business workers across numerous sectors continues to grow as organizations benefit from an increasingly connected and productive workforce, according to VDC's most recent research. Industries continue to internalize the benefits of a mobilized workforce, as data from VDC shows an anticipated average increase of mobility-based budgets for 2014 of 10.6%. Although mobile workers will continue to leverage a variety of form factors including smartphones, tablets, and notebooks, the overall durability and resilience make this form factor increasingly desirable. This harkens back to Microsoft’s vision PC Plus vision for the market back in 2011. While they might have misjudged Windows 8’s ability to usher in that era, the recent figures for notebook shipments have borne out the idea, especially as tablet sales continue to stall. VDC anticipates that the enterprise notebook market will continue to grow, reaching almost 80 million units in 2014 – nearly half of the total notebook market. While the market has matured considerably, it is still far from the “post-PC” erosion predicted by many, especially as newer generations of the PC, like the Surface Pro 3, gain traction.

After a particularly soft year in 2013, overall notebook performance rebounded in 2014, especially in the enterprise sector. Much of the momentum came from the retirement of Windows XP, which forced many organizations to upgrade their installed base, while others either scaled back or placed tablet initiatives on hold in favor of notebooks. VDC expects the upgrade cycle will continue well into 2015 with the anticipated launch of Windows 10 to provide an additional uplift, albeit at a lower year-on-year rate. However, this will likely remove any incentive for enterprises to consider further deployments of Windows 8.1, whose reception has been lackluster both among consumer and enterprise markets alike. Although enterprise notebooks are primarily the domain of Windows, Apple’s presence continues to grow, with the iPad and iPhone serving as key gateway for OS X. VDC estimates that Apple’s share of the enterprise notebook market will reach 7.5% in 2014, especially with growing support of Windows applications on iOS and OS X making the inclusion into IT solutions an increasingly viable option. This is reflected in the most recent figures released by Apple, which showed 14% YoY growth from Q1 2014.

VDC estimates that, of the 80 million notebook shipments to the enterprise in 2014, approximately 28% – or 22 million units – were deployed in support of line-of-business applications. These applications range from field-based insurance adjusters and sales agents to service technicians and hospital care workers. An additional 440,000 rugged notebooks are forecast to ship in 2014, primarily supporting line-of-business workers in public safety, military, and industrial markets. Much like the overall notebook market, the rugged notebook market is emerging from a period of significant contraction in 2013 and the first half of 2014. Demand began to gain momentum toward the second quarter of 2014 with the increased rate of modernization to upgrade aging installed bases. However, overall, rugged notebook unit growth through 2018 is expected to be modest at 2.9% annually. As enterprise mobility continues to evolve, the notebook will remain the workhorse of devices for the foreseeable future.


A Return to Innovation as Microsoft Lifts the Veil at Windows 10 Event


Windows 10_image

Yesterday saw Microsoft reveal more details about the upcoming Windows 10 OS. After two years of limited success with Windows 8, Microsoft has sought to recapture its audience with a return to the familiar with the reintroduction of the Start button as an integral feature, as well as expanding the system to serve as a unified platform across all form factors. In addition to improving the functionality of the Action Center, Windows 10 will also incorporate Cortana across form factors, including the PC. With this suite of features and improvements, Microsoft hopes that it can leverage its position as market leader among PCs to increase its mobile market share, which has languished in the single digits since launching.

Shifting towards a unified experience

One of the more profound elements to Windows 10 is that, unlike Windows 8, the OS moves beyond a limited set of devices to encompass a much broader spectrum of options. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella emphasized this point, stating that the notion of mobility that the firm is pursuing is not so much about mobility of computing on a given device, but rather, “the mobility of experience across devices.” Taking cues from how Apple has moved to allow for seamless transitioning between devices with applications, Microsoft aims to increase the fluidity of the OS experience as it continues its shift towards its goal of “Windows-as-a-service.” This is a much-needed transition for Microsoft, which has struggled to overcome a reactionary approach to the market, especially as end-users are frequently looking to take their work from one form factor to the next. The reality is one where the device itself is becoming less central to the process, as the market for current enterprise form factors has matured considerably, becoming fairly homogenous in the process.

The return of the prodigal OS

There has been considerable buzz around Windows 10 among both consumer and enterprise end-users. For the latter, it has been a prolonged period of wait and see; there has been a reluctance to adopt Android due to concerns around security, the complexity of migrating legacy applications, and considerable OS fragmentation. Nevertheless, Tier-1 and Tier-2 companies in North America are following their European counterparts’ lead in overcoming their reluctance to adopt Android. Still – many express a desire for Windows. If Microsoft can provide the OS to enterprise in a timely manner, the move could sap much of Android’s enterprise momentum, especially in the rugged sphere, as 2015 increasingly looks to be a key turning point for the enterprise market. Microsoft’s announcement that the OS will be provided gratis to users of Windows 7 and 8 will likely help the OS gain traction quickly.

 Windows 10 beefs up its EMM capabilities

While Microsoft has struggled with its mobile initiatives in recent years, its long history serving the technology infrastructure needs of large organizations puts Microsoft in a strong position to deliver enterprise mobility solutions in the coming years. With its upcoming Windows 10 release, Microsoft plans key security enhancements and options that are requisite in heterogeneous mobile deployment environments. The Windows 10 release will feature sophisticated containerization capabilities that will give enterprises more control over their content, allowing for content to be marked as corporate, encrypted, and then be wiped if the relationship between the corporation and user has ended. Preventing data leakage has been a key area of focus in Windows 10; corporate data can be identified as corporate vs. user, encrypted, and wiped on command. The 10 release will further expand into biometric capabilities and enable authentication with your biometric identity anywhere in Windows (Windows sign-in, remote access, User Account Control, etc.). App management features also take advantage of 10's biometrics and can be incorporated for Windows Store apps, functions within them, and be used to control certificates.  VDC sees the aforementioned containerization features and a refresh of its System Center Configuration Manager software (along with ensuring the legacy SCCM 2007 release is compatible with Windows 10) as critical success factors; Microsoft’s Intune device management platform must also evolve and incorporate more cross platform capabilities. We expect tight integration of its prolific Microsoft products (Outlook, Office, and SharePoint) in the 10 release – if Microsoft can deliver the consistent and familiar experience across platforms that it promises, the vendor will almost be guaranteed to be a viable contender in the enterprise mobility market.

Bringing innovation back

Microsoft topped off its Windows 10 event with by revealing the HoloLens, an augmented reality HUD that incorporates holographs and floating video feed capabilities for enhanced two-way communication. Although still in its infancy, the technology presents enterprise potential, much in the way that mounted wearables are currently testing the waters. While the payoff for Microsoft will likely be far from immediate, it marks a profound shift for the firm and a decisive break from the Ballmer era and a transition back towards innovation. In a rapidly shifting market where older firms like HP and BlackBerry are struggling to remain relevant, Microsoft is keen to shed its image as a reactionary relic of a bygone era. Yesterday’s announcement is definitely a step in the right direction. 


With Eric Klein, Senior Analyst


Meet w/ VDC's Mobile Team at #MWC15!

#MWC15 is <6 weeks away!
VDC's mobile team will be making the trip across the Atlantic again this year to visit the largest mobile technology tradeshow of the year, Mobile World Congress in Bacelona, Spain. Last year, the conference boasted 85,916 attendees! Below are the statistics from last year's event:
While we are at the conference, we welcome the opportunity to meet with attending vendors to learn more about their enterprise mobility solutions and any show-related (or other recent) announcements.

Feel free to contact us directly to arrange for a meeting:

Eric Klein: eklein@vdcresearch.com (@eakleiner), 508.653.9000 x141
David Krebs: davidk@vdcresearch.com (@dm_krebs), 508.653.9000 x136

Haven't decided if you're attending MWC yet?

Check out the Mobile World Congress website for more information on the conference program as well as information on all of the companies that will be exhibiting.

We look forward to seeing you at the show!


VDC’s Mobile NRF Recap

With a show the scale of NRF there is no shortage of topics to address, so our focus will be on mobile solutions that struck us as particularly unique or crafty. The broad themes were largely an extension of topics introduced over the last couple of years: The "connected" and "in-control" customer; seamless "omni-channel" experiences; two-way "sharing" of information. While there clearly are retail visionaries who are daring and "get it" – like Cole Haan and the access they are providing their customers to in-store inventory or Outfittery, with its innovative focus on personalized curation - there seems to still be a lot of unsubstantiated noise. Among the IT meta-trends of big data, analytics and IoT, the retail sector is - surprisingly - behind when compared to other industries. While there is a lot of data being collected and analysis conducted, deriving meaningful value remains a challenge to most. From a purely mobile perspective, some of the dominant themes centered on mobile payments, the continued mobile platform wars and the shifting competitive landscape.

Mobile payments remain a central theme to NRF, especially as the push for EMV continues and OEMS are moving to adopt systems that integrate chip and pin readers. Verifone, the leading mobile payment and POS solutions provider in North America has taken a modular approach that is both device- and platform-agnostic, simplifying the certification process and enabling the company to partner with a wide array of mobile OEMs such as Samsung and Apple and leaving the mobile question in the hands of the retailer. Given the multitude of platforms that are increasingly becoming the norm in enterprise and in front-of-store retail and the shortening lifecycle for deployed devices, this provides Verifone much-needed flexibility to remain at the forefront of mobile payment solutions. From Verifone’s perspective what was also interesting and unique was its continued shift towards software and services with its Secure Commerce Architecture the most impactful for retailers. This solution provides a point to point encryption approach that directly transmits card data to the processor without touching the retailer’s POS system. At the other end of the mobile payments spectrum, Panasonic has introduced one of the first fully integrated mPOS devices in the Toughpad FZ-R1, which combines a 7” all-in-one tablet running full Windows 8.1 with a dedicated PCI compliant mobile payment element supporting chip and pin and with an encrypted mag stripe option in a semi-rugged casing. While the price point of the device will be a challenge for Panasonic, this does provide them with a clear differentiation and inroads into other segments beyond quick serve restaurants.

Another dominant theme that permeated the convention is the continuation of the mobile platform wars in retail at all levels. Mobile strategies by retailers over the past several years have favored Apple’s iOS powered devices and more recently Android-based smartphones and tablets supporting a variety of ‘customer facing’ applications. Rugged handheld devices, prominent for scan-intensive inventory management applications, suffered this shift in focus and were further marginalized by Microsoft’s inability to provide an adequate and timely transition strategy to next generation platforms for these devices. While the legacy Windows Mobile 6.x/Embedded CE platforms remain perfectly suitable for many of the applications they are supporting, especially for more keyboard-centric solutions such as those prevalent in the warehouse. However, when it comes to more touch-centric devices, these platforms really do not stack up with iOS and Android. A blurry OS strategy evolved with rugged OEMs shifting focus towards Android. While Android has faced an uphill battle in the enterprise and especially on rugged devices – issues relating to persistent wireless connectivity a frequent frustration among end users – 2014 represented somewhat of a breakthrough year for rugged Android handheld devices in the retail sector, especially in North America. ISV support of Android was reaching critical mass, enterprise support on a broad or horizontal level was improving and in Home Depot the first benchmark account emerged. We expect that momentum to continue into 2015. While Windows Embedded Handheld 8 was scrapped almost as quickly as it was introduced, 8.1 showed some promise. However with only Panasonic and Bluebird introducing devices, options remain limited. Honeywell appears to also be throwing its hat in the ring with a WEH8.1 device slotted for Q2 2015. However, the sense that we got was that there would be another round of “wait and see” on the Microsoft front with vendors and end users pointing to Windows 10. Make no mistake, there is a vested interest among several accounts – especially in North America – for a strong Microsoft option for rugged handheld devices. It is just taking a lot longer to materialize.

An interesting wrinkle in the OS/architecture debate for handheld devices was introduced by BSQUARE with its MobileV reference platform. MobileV is a complete hardware and software reference solution based on Intel architecture and Windows Embedded 8.1. The software enables screen resolutions compatible with displays ranging from 3.5” and up. In other words x86 and big Windows on a handheld device. Together with partner AAVA, a Finnish mobile device manufacturer, they presented a 5” handheld/tablet and 7” tablet based on MobileV. There has been growing discussion and interest in this option in the market. However, from a BOM and power performance perspective, it will be a challenge for solutions and applications traditionally supported by rugged handheld devices today and will likely take more time to be viable outside of select niche use cases.

The overall competitive landscape within retail is shifting, as merged companies seek to realign their brand and established firms look to take on a more direct relationship with end-users. For the former, Zebra is a prime example, following its headline-grabbing acquisition of Motorola Solutions’ enterprise business in 2014. Traditionally a back-of-store company, Zebra is putting in significant effort and funding to establish a more customer-facing retail presence, not only with the Motorola device portfolio, but in shop floor solutions that leverages its Zatar IoT platform. While futuristic and eye-catching, these technologies will require considerable consumer opt-in to really take off in a meaningful way. However, their offerings of in-store analytics to measure foot traffic and dwell time fit squarely into a growing market that is seeing competition from all sides, including Samsung and AT&T. Samsung could prove to be a serious contender as it has increasingly focused its attention to enterprise in wake of considerable contraction from its consumer devices. The firm’s brand recognition, strengthening Android security and broad retail partnership portfolio should expose Samsung to increased retail opportunity.

with David Krebs, EVP


Vuzix and XOEye Partner to offer end-to-end wearable enterprise solutions

Leading HUD manufacturer Vuzix continues its trend of strategic partnerships with the announcement earlier this week of its partnership with wearable tech firm XOEye to create an end-to-end solution for more rugged industry segments that include manufacturing, construction, and field services. Under the partnership, Vuzix will bundle its flagship M100 smart glasses with XOEye’s cloud-based software platform and applications developed to enhance communication and operation efficiencies, particularly in regards to remote diagnostics, managerial support, compliance and project documentation. As XOEye CEO Aaron Salow notes, “Demand for wearables in the workplace continues to increase as requirements for efficiency, workplace safety, and compliance across many sectors are becoming increasingly commonplace and, in some cases, mandated.” Data from VDC bears this out, as there is growing interest across industry verticals for wearable devices, as use cases for the form factor accumulate.

The partnership comes on the heels of the announcement of Intel’s purchase of a $25 million stake in Vuzix, as well as with collaborations with Lenovo to co-brand the M100 in China. This comes in conjunction with SAP’s partnership to provide enterprise applications to the device announced in MWC lat year, as well as support on the Salesforce Wear platform, which is intended to provide a platform for developers to provide enterprise-oriented apps geared designed specifically for wearable devices.  Although much of the initial buzz for smart glasses like Google Glass originated in the consumer market, its appeal has cooled considerably. As a result, Google has increasingly shifted its attention for the device towards the enterprise market, which does not have the same aversion to head-mounted displays – a considerable obstacle in the consumer market. As a result, Vuzix will not only face growing competition from companies like Epson, but increasingly from Google as well. Nevertheless, the recent combination of co-branding and funding has placed Vuzix on a very solid global footing.

While the demand for wearables in enterprise is growing, many of the applications remain relatively niche. Unlike other form factors deployed in an enterprise setting, wearables covers a very broad spectrum of devices that encompass a plurality of applications and capabilities, making it difficult to address the form factor as a whole. Additionally, many organizations are hesitant to deploy wearables in line of business applications, as research from VDC reveals that lack of a perceived ROI remains a significant barrier to adoption across industry verticals. Nevertheless, the benefits of hands-free mobility and direct two-way communication are strong value propositions that are gaining ground in areas like field services and manufacturing, where efficiency gains, as well as safety and compliance provide a strong impetus to look to wearables as a solution. Many of these opportunities and challenges are addressed in an upcoming report from VDC on wearables in line-of-business applications. 


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


Recent Posts

The Notebook Market is More “PC Plus” than “Post-PC”

A Return to Innovation as Microsoft Lifts the Veil at Windows 10 Event

Meet w/ VDC's Mobile Team at #MWC15!

VDC’s Mobile NRF Recap

Vuzix and XOEye Partner to offer end-to-end wearable enterprise solutions

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

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