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