45 posts categorized "Industry Events"


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.


Apple advances but doesn't revolutionize mobile payments, wearables

Yesterday saw the announcement of both the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch in Cupertino with considerable fanfare (and technical streaming issues).  Moving further away from Jobs’ dictate of a smaller screen, Apple has taken its cue from Samsung and the general smartphone market by offering both a 4.7” and 5.5” – marking its first foray into the phablet range. A relative late entrant to the market, the iPhone 6 will likely nevertheless help to recapture some of the market share that it has previously lost to Android which now accounts for more than 80% of the total smartphone market worldwide versus Apple’s 12%. While Apple’s market share is considerably higher in the US, it has slipped considerably in recent years as previous iPhone iterations have become increasingly incremental.

Boosting mobile payments

While the iPhone 6 boasts a host of improvements in display, battery life and thinness, the biggest enterprise news is in the inclusion of NFC and the introduction of Apple Pay.  Although NFC is not new technology, it has yet to gain mainstream traction as a means of mobile payment. NFC penetration in smartphones has begun to reach critical mass within the last generation of smartphones, with Apple being one of the last major holdouts. With the capability gaining momentum, VDC anticipates that NFC-enabled smartphone shipments are likely to reach 400-500 million in 2014. However, to date, while the technology is there, mobile payments have not taken off to a large extent, as evidenced by the relatively low take-up from Isis Wallet (now SoftCard). This has been primarily a function the trifecta of the lack of NFC-enabled payment infrastructure at checkout stations, general customer disinterest and smartphone shares that are only just reaching critical mass now. However, the sheer force of Apple’s cachet and its ability to bring partners like Target, Starbucks, McDonalds, Macy’s, and Bloomingdale’s could help to update a payment system that CEO Tim Cook noted is 50 years old. But despite the fact that the one-touch payment system shares no credit card information with the merchant and numbers are not stored on the phone, there are nevertheless concerns about the security of Apple Pay, especially in light of the recent security questions surrounding Apple and iCloud last week, in which celebrities' photos were stolen en masse. Given the sheer volume of credit card information that Apple holds and the rise in security breaches within companies like Target and, more recently, Home Depot, these are not idle concerns. With these recent breaches, retailers are on high alert and at least appear to want to do something to secure payments and are finally committing to upgrading their solutions.

The Apple Pay factor

Despite the potential of an NFC-enabled iPhone and the introduction of Apple Pay, the latter is not quite the disruptive move that many had anticipated or hoped for. Instead, Apple is largely taking on the role of enabler/facilitator and working directly with major banks and credit card issuers. While the revenue play for Apple in this scenario is limited, the option provides the greatest near-term boost to mobile payments. One outstanding question that remains is whether Apple Pay will/can directly link checking accounts as a payment option, as PIN code entry becomes an issue.

The wearable people might actually want to wear

With a hint of Jobsian flair, Cook announced that Apple did in fact have one more thing – the announcement of the highly anticipated, much-discussed smartwatch, simply named the Apple Watch. Staying true to its roots in product design, the device seeks to avoid the current hurdle of smartwatches being viewed as miniaturized smartphones strapped to the wrist. Although Apple emphasized the Watch’s high degree of customization, the company remained quiet on the topics of display resolution and, more importantly, battery life. Despite the current lack of specifications, the Apple watch has integrated key features that VDC believes are central to the success of the form factor: namely, the designing of a product that has a markedly different interface and means of interaction than other mobile devices. By supplementing the capacitive touch screen with a navigation wheel/home button dubbed the “digital crown”, the Apple Watch provides a simple and elegant solution to navigation while keeping the display un-obscured. More importantly, though, Apple will be making the API available to developers to create a host of applications that are specific to the form factor. As VDC will be discussing in depth in its report on wearable devices later this month, it is the combination of a rich application development ecosystem and relaying of contextual information in a format optimized for mini-interactions that will be the key to success not just for the Apple Watch, but for wearables as a whole. What remains to be seen, though, is the extent the Apple Watch will succeed as a wearable, given that the device – like other smartwatches with the notable exception of the Samsung Gear S – remains tethered to the smartphone and does not function as a standalone product. Although Apple has engineered and designed a strong product, the market has yet to see a true killer app emerge to solidify the form factor.  Nevertheless, the integration of NFC also adds potential to the device that, along with the other aforementioned capabilities, could help make smartwatches finally gain the traction needed to transition to fad to mainstream form factor with far-reaching opportunities within an enterprise setting.  

(with David Krebs, Executive Vice President)


Now VMWare is thinking with Portals

 ... the opportunities to provision applications securely and on the fly is truly revolutionary and a possibility if VMware can integrate and evolve the technologies it has acquired.

Today marks the last day of VMWorld, VMware’s annual conference located in San Francisco. One of the key announcements came on Wednesday with the unveiling of the VMware Workspace Suite, which includes desktop virtualization, identity management, and app, device and data management. The package features many elements from its AirWatch acquisition, including Secure Content Locker and mobile management software. A central element to the package is the Workspace Portal, which enables mobile users to access Windows applications, cloud services and web apps from a single, centralized location.


Imitation as a source of flattery…or confusion

Many people are noting the similarities between its new product suite and that of Citrix, which bears the exact same name. Citrix has taken note and took the opportunity to release a blog of its own – Imitation is never as good as the original – claiming that “It is often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And after reviewing VMware’s new announcement of Workspace Suite, all I can say is that all of us at Citrix are extremely flattered,”  before enumerating a point-by-point comparison of the two products.

However, despite creating a seeming workspace doppelganger, VMware is also likely to see increasing competition from Dell, which launched its own desktop virtualization solution, vWorkspace. Originally known as Quest Software, it was acquired by Dell in 2012 and offers additional features like support for Linux VMs and EOP protocol.

The Mobile Cloud Era: “Desktops Re-imagined and Inspired by Mobility”

VMware is weaving together technologies that have the potential to upend traditional end user computing deployment environments. The company’s recent acquisitions (AirWatch, Desktone, and CloudVolumes) are demonstrative of the mobile cloud era that VMware sees us entering. VDC agrees, and we believe that we are in the early days of a coming disruption in IT service delivery and the way organizations provision and manage devices for their workforce. While the adoption of virtualization technologies like those from VMware is limited, the opportunities to provision applications both securely and on the fly is truly revolutionary and a realistic possibility ifVMware can integrate and evolve the technologies it has acquired. We see the opportunity for cost savings and the flexibility that VMware has the potential to offer giving the firm a notable opportunity moving forward. VMware’s vision of delivery innovation as a service – from the data center to the desktop and mobile applications –are now a possibility; time will tell if end users are ready for it.

(With Kathryn Nassberg, Analyst)


Google I/O kicks wearable device talk into high gear

June has been a big month for consumer wearable devices – it has seen the Salesforce announce the launch of Salesforce Wear to help build up a wearable-specific ecosystem geared primarily towards smartwatches and augmented vision devices. This month also saw Samsung’s announcement of the Samsung Z – the first smartphone to run on its proprietary Tizen OS, establishing a single platform for its growing family of Gear smartwatches, including the Gear 2, the Neo and the Gear Fit. However, the biggest buzz has come from this week’s announcements at Google’s I/O developer conference. Google had announced its wearable specific OS, Android Wear, in March, but gave more insight this week as to its capabilities and scope. 

Google sees the world moving from your fingertips to your wrist

Contextual data proved a central theme at the presentation for Android Wear. Sundar Pichai, SVP for Android, Chrome and Apps noted that “people check their phones more than 150 times a day,” noting that these interactions often centered on simple pieces of information that require numerous steps, such as unlocking and entering passwords, to access. Google’s answer is to provide this information “quickly, at a glance,” and to supplement the process with voice-activated queries and commands using the familiar, “OK, Google” prompt. Improvements in contextual voice-based software from Apple, Google, and Microsoft for smartphones will be a major component of the new generation of smartwatches on the horizon, given the limited display size and interaction options. The trick, however, will be in balancing voice-activated and touch-based interactions that function seamlessly together and quickly; most interactions for the form factor take place within a 15-20 second timeframe.

As with smartphones, applications are key

For smartwatches and other wearable form factors to move beyond fitness-based fads, OEMs will need to support application development by providing APIs releasing SDKs to developers to support tighter and deeper integration. In the same way that desktop applications could not simply be shrunk down to work on a smartphone, mobile applications will need to be tailored to work with specific wearable form factors in a way that pairs well with other devices, such as smartphones and tablets. Having a robust selection of apps will help wearables to enter a broader slice of daily life and work to overcome the current social discomfort surrounding the devices (cue the numerous references to Dick Tracy or the Borg with Google Glass, or other augmented reality heads up displays). VDC looks in depth at this trend and the implications for enterprise wearables in this month’s VDC View.



Event Recap ― IBM Impact

VDC had the opportunity to attend IBM’s Impact event in Las Vegas last week ― the event was well attended (~9,000 attendees) and featured hundreds of breakout sessions that spanned a broad range of technologies. A key theme at the event was what the company described as its ability to help companies become “composable businesses”.


The company's keynote speakers were very much in sync with this message and articulated how IBM was positioned to provide its customers with a path to transform their business and help them embrace the “ecosystem of everything.” Throughout Impact, IBM showcased how it had expanded its portfolio of cloud-oriented solutions with analytics, big data and mobile solutions and how customers could benefit from the ecosystem of innovation it has assembled. The company's message: it can provide the flexibility and speed that are required to overcome the challenges which every business will ultimately face as the shift to digital services impacts their IT infrastructure. This building block approach will enable customers to piece together what’s needed quickly and effectively to solve rapidly changing business problems. IBM identifies four service types in this environment:

  • Infrastructure services such as those from Softlayer
  • Business services in the more general SaaS portfolio
  • Defined pattern services such as its PureApplication services
  • Composable services (PaaS) such as BlueMix

MobileFirst and Customers Front and Center

IBM's MobileFirst GM Marie Wieck talked about design thinking, and the need to train development teams to think first about engaging with mobile. She identified several success factors for mobile enablement that were on point:

  • Mobile interactions will increasingly transition to mobile transactions
  • Must support secure, effective, real-time transactions not just interactions
  • Not just mobile analytics, also customer analytics
  • Use mobile analytics to improve outcomes whenever possible
  • Must be iterative and rapidly evolve applications
  • Business rules are required to iterate business logic

There were some great examples of mobile enablement scenarios which featured prominent customers and partners that tied well to Wieck’s success factors. Tangerine Bank discussed how they use technology to redefine and simplify banking for their customers. Tangerine shared details on how it has raised the bar in mobile banking and has transformed into a mobile-first bank (key product enhancements mentioned were voice activation and offline access).  In working with IBM, the company was able to shorten its mobile development cycle using IBM's PureApplication System. Tangerine was able to quickly develop, test and deploy repeatable patterns, access the Worklight programming environment, use Bluemix for testing and QA, and take advantage of the API catalog to manage their internal services.

IBM's SVP of Software and Cloud Solutions Robert LeBlanc cited Tangerine as an example of the shift to a completely digital economy where companies are increasingly using mobile and cloud for computing, unbundling their business offerings and where new “killer apps” have the potential to disrupt any industry.

In this vein, IBM made sure that the most visible announcement out of Impact was its marketplace. The company has curated a site that is designed to pull IBM and third party services into solutions to help customers easily find them. Solutions range from standard business, development and operational services (new SaaS and composable services on BlueMix and Softlayer will be a focus going forward). This capability was required when considering the new style of purchasing that many companies are starting to engage in, and gives IBM a mechanism to help its partners gain influence.

Still a Long Road for Many to True Mobile Enablement

IBM was also intent on demonstrating that its products can work well together, and how it can transition organizations from legacy data centers to a modern IT architecture. The company spoke about how it is beginning to see evidence within its larger customers that mobility is becoming more strategic with more senior sponsors getting involved (something that we’ve all been waiting to see). In response, IBM has taken a managed services approach to best position themselves to help quickly (a wise move given the company's Global Services capabilities). The company has also been focused on training its business process consultants and partners on its MobileFirst solution portfolio to make sure that process solutions are being mobilized if and when the opportunity presents itself. IBM's industry specific Ready Apps were also showcased ― these starter kits will be useful and can definitely help customers accelerate their mobile enablement initiatives.

While many organizations are certainly striving to modernize their infrastructure and are in the process of iterating and re-architecting their business processes the reality is that logistics networks, supplier relationships, product and service design and customer service have and will continue to be in a state of flux. Any path to sustainable competitive advantage will require a high degree of operational adaptability. IBM certainly has assembled a portfolio of products and services that can help, but engraining mobile solutions into their workflows and business processes will take time, and getting key stakeholders within lines of business, IT leaders and developers to collaborate is difficult.

IBM has enhanced its opportunity in the enterprise with its MobileFirst initiative, with key acquisitions (Cloudant, Fiberlink, SoftLayer, and Worklight) figuring prominantly; however, significant integration work remains. IBM must demonstrate to its customers that it can help to simplify and streamline app development by mobilizing existing apps (backend integration) and help to build next generation apps.


Unpacking Samsung’s MWC – Enterprise Implications

VDC met with Samsung at Mobile World Congress this week in Barcelona to discuss the company’s take on enterprise mobility as it announced the launch of the much-anticipated Galaxy S5. The smartphone, with its IP-67 rating for dust and water resistance is the second in Samsung’s lineup for a more ruggedized consumer device after the S4 Active. The latest product in the Galaxy family is leading the trend towards more durable, enterprise-oriented smartphones that continue to blur the line between consumer and enterprise devices that will only turn up the heat further on ruggedized OEMs, who are facing increased competition from their consumer-grade counterparts. In addition to a more ruggedized build, the S5 boats other enterprise-friendly security features such as two-factor authentication that incorporates both password and biometric verification, and the inclusion of its KNOX mobile security solution.

Refining mobile device management with KNOX 2.0

Although KNOX was originally announced at last year’s Mobile World Congress and launched in October of last year, Samsung has brought the security solution back into the headlines with the software’s second iteration as KNOX 2.0, which boasts a compliment of features like cloud-based enterprise mobility management (EMM) targeted at SMBs, a dedicated Knox Marketplace for enterprise applications, and support for third-party containers, such as Good Technology, MobileIron and Fixmo. While the newest version of the solution does not require applications to be wrapped (due to kernel enhancements) in order to work with KNOX, we wonder whether apps will need to be modified in order to work, and whether this could pose a potential problem for Samsung down the road.

As of yet, the activation rate remains modest, with 1 million user activations to date out of the 25 million devices that feature KNOX capabilities on the market today, although the manufacturer revealed to the media that it now see a monthly activation rate 210,000 devices. KNOX 2.0 firmly underscores Samsung’s belief in the solution’s potential in an enterprise setting, as the firm currently has 2,000 engineers working on KNOX and has partnered with 42 carriers globally to provide the solution.

Building a greater service presence

While Samsung has made considerable inroads into enterprise mobility with its hardware and MDM solutions, there are still considerable gaps on the service side that will need to be addressed, especially in looking to service Tier-1, multinational firms. Samsung has handily proven that it has the hardware capabilities to be successful with consumers, but to truly be successful in the quest to become more enterprise-friendly, it will need to get closer to clients. This is not to say that Samsung should build out direct sales; rather, the firm needs to establish a more direct relationship, both with partners and with end-users. In this vein, Samsung has had some early success; the company has been working closely with DMI on the massive DISA contact, and is expected to provide new details on the program’s expansion soon. Earlier this week Samsung revealed that it has entered into a strategic alliance with GEMA who continues to draw important partners into is ranks. While these relationships have put Samsung in a strong position, the company has a target on its back. BlackBerry has stumbled, but the company continues to maintain large enterprise deployments, and is betting big on the enterprise market as a mean of survival―others such as Lenovo and Microsoft are also in hot pursuit of the enterprise market and certainly have an opportunity to challenge Samsung going forward.


Rumors and Rugged Consumer Devices at Mobile World Congress

Lions and tigers and phablets, oh my!

With Mobile World Congress looming on the horizon, there has been considerable buzz surrounding the anticipated unveilings in Barcelona. The enterprise-friendly range of display sizes continues to grow, with rumors of HTC introducing a new member to its line of Desire phablets, and LG’s recent confirmation of the G Pro 2. This reinforces predictions of phablet use to grow significantly in 2014, particularly within business environments. The increased focus on mobile devices in a data-centric setting and desire for larger screens could help bolster the form factor’s popularity, despite its unwieldy size and ungainly nomenclature.

 “Samdroid” continues its enterprise push

Other anticipated launches include Samsung’s Galaxy S5, which could help the firm make further inroads into a predominantly Apple-dominated enterprise setting.  Nokia has also garnered considerable attention with talk of the Nokia X being launched at MWC. Leaked images of the Android OS featuring Windows 8-style tiles has people both intrigued and confused, especially given its new relationship with Microsoft. The device also raises questions as to the possibility of devices capable of running on multiple platforms, which could potentially be alluring in enterprise setting, particularly for BYOD.

Smartphones get tough

Meanwhile, VDC is keeping an eye on manufacturers like Kyocera and Sonim, who are making inroads into the consumerization of ruggedized features that have traditionally been associated with specialized enterprise devices. As price points continue to drop, this could pave the way for consumer-grade devices that boast greater levels of ruggedness and environmental protection, particularly in regards to water-resistance. While current options for non-enterprise rugged smartphones are limited, announcements from MWC could well herald a shift towards more durable consumer devices and create an upset among more traditional rugged manufacturers.

Big changes on the horizon

While VDC anticipates announcements at Mobile World Congress to highlight the continued development of devices that are increasingly enterprise-capable both in regards to performance and form factor, we nevertheless believe that the truly disruptive technologies are still on the horizon. Right now technology such as flexible displays and wearable devices are in their infancy, and have generated significant buzz, but current pricing and a lack of widespread practical applications have meant that they are primarily in a proof-of-concept stage. If the technology is able to move beyond this and gain more widespread acceptance, it has the potential to revolutionize the mobile device market…just not this year.


NRF: Mobility Trends for 2014

The National Retail Federation hosted its annual exposition in mid January at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. The two-day event featured 550 retail solution providers and nearly 30,000 attendees, a record for the event. VDC’s Mobility Analysts David Krebs and Kathryn Nassberg took the opportunity meet and speak with a variety of retail technology solution providers and retailers at the expo and observe the emerging mobility trends firsthand. These are some of their observations:

Competition between Microsoft and Android for rugged handheld share intensifies

The competition between Microsoft and Android is heating up in the ruggedized device arena. While Microsoft platforms remained the undisputed leaders in the rugged handheld sector in 2013, VDC anticipates that 2014 will be a breakthrough year for Android. Already, OEMs like Motorola, Honeywell, and Bluebird are offering ruggedized handheld devices featuring the Android OS, which is rapidly becoming a credible challenge to Microsoft’s hegemony in the rugged space. However, Android still has to prove itself in this arena and the market will closely follow the success of several large-scale deployments planned for the first half of 2014. As with any new platform, there have been growing pains in introducing ruggedized Android solutions, with many early products falling short of expectations. However recent release issues, such as application performance, scanner integration and security have been largely addressed. Nevertheless, the perception of Android as a less secure and fragmented platform persist and the rugged mobile OEM vendor community would benefit from a more cohesive approach in addressing these issues.

A much-needed development has been clearer communication among rugged mobile OEMs with respect to their development initiatives. Although much of 2013’s lack of direction was tied to Microsoft’s timeline, industry leaders such as Motorola Solutions created solution among partners and customers as they hedged between Microsoft and Android. The timing could not have been worse as the challenge from consumer devices (especially iOS) intensified. Today, we are seeing much greater conviction from rugged handheld OEMs regarding their Anroid roadmaps and believe that the devices and Android services available today can materially impact the market in 2014.  

Recent research among retail technology decision makers conducted by VDC Research in 2013 supports rugged vendor’s Android efforts. According to respondents currently using rugged handheld devices with plans to upgrade their legacy devices, over twice as many intend to migrate to Android-powered devices (33%) as opposed to Windows Embedded 8 Handheld devices (15%).

Apple loses some of its retail luster

Make no mistake; the use of Apple iOS mobile devices for enterprise mobile workflows is not going away. In fact, Apple continues to up its focus on the enterprise segments and the enterprise features embedded within its iOS devices.. However, following much iOS fanfare over the past two NRF events, VDC is hearing about retailers’ frustration with some of their Apple deployments with increasing consistency. Despite tremendous success in the consumer markets, the sheen has begun wear off for Apple devices for enterprises using the devices. Given Apple’s near-exclusive customer orientation, managing devices operating on iOS is no easy task and support in an enterprise setting is proving challenging. Moreover, firms are also encountering issues with wireless performance and supporting multiple users per device, further lessening Apple’s enterprise appeal. On top of these technical setbacks, there is also the pervasive issue of employee theft. VDC believes that in light of these issues, companies will increasingly look to other OEMs to meet their enterprise mobility needs.

EMV Compliance as a Mobile Payment Forcing Function?

The looming EMV compliance deadline of 2015 was a almost predictably absent theme at NRF. Although technology vendors are eager to sell EMV-compliant POS solutions and certain retailers (see WalMart) are moving forward more aggressively with their EMV rollouts, all will be moot until card issuers get serious. A major barrier in the US is that card issuers and their networks are married to signature-based interchange fees for credit and debit card transactions (PIN based transactions generally cost less for merchants in comparison to signature transactions). However, the fact remains that while the US accounts for nearly 30% of all charges/transactions, it also accounted for 47% of losses stemming from fraud.

Nevertheless, even with such a strong headwind, it is expected that EMV compliant investments will increase substantially over the next few years as retailers upgrade their POS infrastructure. The wild card here will be the impact of the continued shift to mobile solutions. Some retailers – such as Abercrombie – have announced plans for an all-mobile POS future. According to VDC’s most recent retail research, almost eight in ten respondents currently or plan to support mobile POS solutions within their retail organizations. While the shift to mobile does not necessarily mean a move away from EMV, it will open the doors for retailers to think of alternative payment options such as NFC and tap to pay solutions. Although card solutions are not going away, it is entirely conceivable that mobile payment will account for an ever-increasingly share of the market.

“Wait and see” was certainly a prevalent mantra among retail executives in regard to next generation POS solutions. The door is open for retailers to address both EMV and mobile payment needs and vendors such as ROAM are complying with the launch of an EMV-compliant mPOS terminal. However, addressing both simultaneously is perhaps too much to expect.

Low Frequency Bluetooth iBeacon technology ushering new customer engagement and in-store location paradigm

According to VDC’s most recent retail research conducted in 2013, 23% of retail organizations currently offer dedicated mobile applications with an additional 42% planning to roll out mobile customer engagement applications. These mobile applications are at the heart of many retailer’s omni-channel strategies and offer critical capabilities like price checking, product availability at other stores, mobile checkout, etc. However, the in-store experience of many of these applications have left customers expecting more.

What could fundamentally change this and boost their value to customers and especially enhance their in-store experience is by providing both time and location context. iBeacon technology delivers just that, but  without the need for a persistent WiFi or cellular connection. The micro-location technology leverages low-energy/low-frequency Bluetooth technology (BLE) that is increasingly integrated within today’s smartphones. These ‘beacons’ ultimately enable mobile app experiences with much higher accuracy than GPS. Transmitters are distributed through the store and shoppers who have downloaded the mobile app are detected when they enter the store. Use cases are solidifying as roll outs among major retailers such as Macy’s and Apple stores expand. This technology is uniquely positioned to address some of the major usage limitations of today’s mobile and potentially drive much higher customer engagement and loyalty.

Keeping technology investments in perspective…or avoid becoming the next JC Penney

The amount of innovative solutions and new partnerships unveiled at NRF is virtually limitless. However, retailers are already clearly challenged by the task of retraining staff and upgrading legacy IT and POS infrastructure. The memory of how JC Penny was crippled by insufficiently tested and implemented change is still fresh in everyone’s minds. The lesson here is: “unless the technology can directly improve retail sales performance, I don’t want it even if it is free.” This was reinforced by VDC’s recent research among retail decision makers who identified “increased revenues” as the number one metric used to measure mobile investments, followed by reduced operational costs and improved customer experience and loyalty.

All too often, retailers fall victim to hype and fail to fully think through the impact of a new solution. Although the role and impact of technology in retail is clear, one need only look at the ‘promise’ of item level RFID tagging to appreciate the challenge represented. However, often it is not an issue of technical limitations (as with RFID) but rather with how the technology is applied. In the case of mobile solutions, mobile payment and mobile POS offer some great examples. Starbucks is often identified as a pioneer in mobile payments. However, their mobile solution is hardly transforming the customer’s retail shopping experience (pulling out smartphone vs. pulling out a credit card). How about mobile POS solutions? Many today are glorified queue-busting solutions that do not fundamentally change customers’ experience, as goods still need to be bagged and security tags deactivated at a traditional check-out counter.

Frequently, it is not the technology that is the limiting factor but the fact that its implementation has not been fully vetted. Mobile investments are expected to continue to rise – 53% of retail respondents indicate an increase of 10% or more in their mobility investment budgets. The challenge will be aligning them with measurable improvements to a customer’s experience, loyalty and ultimately share of wallet.

These are themes that VDC Research will be tracking very closely as we launch our 2014 retail mobility research programs. Stay tuned!

VMware Furthers Its Mobile Ambitions with AirWatch Acquisition

The device proliferation we've seen in business settings has definitely fueled a surge in the adoption of MDM licenses and is driving much of the growth in our mobile software forecast (Particularly since Q4 2012). Our recent EMM Report showed the EMM market growing from $526M (in 2012), to $1.6B by 2017. However, what also stuck out like a sore thumb within our forecast period were the diminishing revenues that will be attributed to MDM (No surprise, MCM, MAM and services will account for the majority of EMM revenues going forward).

There is no question that organizations see the opportunity to benefit from consumer-oriented mobile devices from a business context. However, today’s IT organizations are challenged to provide end-to-end support from software distribution and patching to asset management and incident support for a wide variety of mobile platforms—not to mention for dispersed devices which are both on and off corporate networks. This trend has made the solutions being offered by EMM vendors not only attractive, but also a logical choice for organizations as they invest in mobile enablement for their workforce. It also has led to a more visible focus on enterprise mobility amongst large and established ISVs.

For VMware, the moves being made by competitors such as Citrix and Dell—along with the tepid reception to its Horizon mobile solutions—forced its hand and made making a meaningful investment in mobility essential (Former SAP mobility head Sanjay Poonen certainly played a large role in bringing this deal to fruition). With AirWatch, VMware gets a proven well integrated enterprise-grade mobility platform – while other potential acquisition targets may have offered similar capabilities—we have identified some factors that we believe made acquiring AirWatch too attractive of an opportunity to pass on which will allow them to better compete in the mobile space with key rivals such as Citrix.

Why AirWatch?

AirWatch's solution range has evolved with the market, and the company has demonstrated that it can service large Fortune 100 deployment environments—this bodes well for VMware, whose customers tend to be on the larger side. There certainly remain other viable “tier 1” mobile ISVs that were likely evaluated by VMware; however, an acquisition of this size is always carefully and deliberately evaluated (We’ve heard that this deal had been in the works for ~6 months). For this reason, we believe that there were key and clear reasons VMware identified in its decision to choose to acquire AirWatch, which are:

Solution Range, Adaptability and Ability to Scale — The company has consistently added new enhancements to its EMM solution portfolio (Recent and notable additions include Workspace, a containerization solution, as well as mobile email clients for Android and iOS). AirWatch was also early relative to its peers with its content and application management solutions to complement its core MDM functions. More importantly for enterprise customers, the company has demonstrated that its solution can integrate with existing technology platforms (AirWatch offers a cloud-based version of their software, an on-premise virtual appliance, or an on-premise physical appliance) and it scales well with expanding deployments (Several of the company’s customers’ deployment environments are very large, with 25K+ devices under management).

Brand — This is quite remarkable, given the noise in the mobile ecosystem and the relative parity amongst market-leading EMM vendors.  However, the company has consistently demonstrated that it is willing—and capable—to invest in its sales and marketing organization. AirWatch has not only been able to attract key talent, but it has also aggressively expanded into new geographies. While other tier 1 EMM vendors have followed suit, AirWatch is ahead here in our view, based on the early traction it is seeing abroad. The company’s willingness to invest in its marketing and events functions has also led to positive press and—indirectly—to the expanded roster of channel/reseller arrangements that AirWatch now maintains—like it or not, in a fast-growing and crowded market, visibility is important.

Dynamic Policies, Automated Compliance and Robust Security The company has secured relationships with key partners such as Appthority, Veracode and Cisco and can easily integrate within the reputations and identity management solutions of these companies. AirWatch’s enhanced security features for its MAM and containerization solutions are also robust and support for two-factor authentication, SAML, certificates, and PKI. Data in-transit and at-rest is encrypted with AES 256-bit, FIPS 140-2 compliant encryption. While these capabilities are table stakes and reside with every bona fide EMM vendor, AirWatch has done well at integrating these features and providing an IT friendly console to administer them.

Sales Execution AirWatch is laser focused on sales execution, and executive leadership has been intent on aggressive growth. The company’s success has come as a result of its ability to balance pressure to succeed with customers’ self-paced buying needs (The company’s tiered pricing model also has helped, as it gives AirWatch the ability to reach mid-market and SMBs). AirWatch’s largest customers are typically pleased with the post sales support they receive, with many specifically mentioning to us that their feedback on feature enhancements have been regularly acted on as they've expanded their deployments. AirWatch definitely has attracted the most visible vendors in the mobile ecosystem as partners, and has demonstrated that it knows how to build a successful channel program.

Who’s Left and What’s Next?

With parity increasing in the EMM market, longevity will be predicated on the ability to innovate and maintain visibility in the market, as almost every large deal seems to be winding up as a dog fight—in this vein, we see pricing pressure continuing to force market consolidation. Clearly, large vendors such as Citrix (Zenprise), Dell (Kace), IBM (Fiberlink), Oracle (Bitzer), and SAP (Sybase) will continue to sharpen their focus on enterprise mobility, so VMware’s announcement of its intent to acquire AirWatch was no surprise.

VDC has been tracking the maturation and evolution of the MDM market for some time now and sees the number of relevant pure-play EMM vendors that remain winnowing. More importantly, the window of opportunity to either pivot or be acquired is beginning to close. While there are certainly several enterprise-oriented vendors with a relatively weak mobile solution range—Microsoft {Intune}, BMC Software, and HP come to mind—that will likely expand their mobile solution range, their willingness to step to the plate is unclear. This is largely due to their ability to develop/enhance their mobile solutions in-house (Or, via a series of small acquisitions, such as Dell’s acquisition of Kace, and other complementary security-oriented ISVs). Other examples of these activities include Cognizant’s recently released TruMobi solution, and CA, who white labels SAP’s Afaria MDM solution, and has developed its own MCM solution.

Good Technology and MobileIron are clearly the largest and most prominent pure-play mobile-first ISVs that seem best positioned for acquisition: while both claim to be positioning for their respective IPOs, no S1’s have been filed, and investors may be beginning to grow impatient. The other problem—particularly for MobileIron—is overcapitalization: While MobileIron has continued to grow its customer roster and expand its solution range, the company closed an F round this past October and seems to be burning through cash. The company has also been relatively quiet as of late and has not disclosed any prominent customer wins/deployment expansions. Good, on the other hand, due to its tenure in the market, its patent portfolio and its success/hold in federal markets may be next (They also will likely be available for less than the $1.5B that VMware paid for AirWatch). The company made smart acquisitions in AppCentral and Copiun—both were relatively inexpensive—to round out its solution range.

Other prominent vendors that are potential acquisition targets include: Absolute Software, Boxtone, and SOTI—each must demonstrate they can continue to innovate and expand their solution range, while retaining and growing their customer rosters in 2014—making progress in the new geographies in which they have been actively investing will also be key to remaining viable. In this vein, AirWatch’s trajectory and its path to its acquisition will not easily be replicated and will add to the legend of Messrs.  Dabbiere and Marshall—the company’s growth tract is sure to go down as one of the most successful—and profitable—in our industry.