What MAM vendors can do to stick out from the crowd

More devices come with built-in mobile application management, and the third-party market is crowded, so MAM vendors must find ways to stand out.

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As more mobile device manufacturers add mobile application management features to their devices, third-party MAM vendors will have to find ways to differentiate.

When employees and executives brought smartphones and tablets into the enterprise, companies did not know what hit them. To help keep data and devices secure, mobile device management (MDM) was born. More recently, companies realized that protecting enterprise data was more important than managing physical devices, and along came mobile application management (MAM).

MAM is at risk of becoming commoditized.

MAM uses app wrapping and containerization to protect corporate data that is stored in mobile applications, whether those apps are third-party or homegrown. Isolating corporate and personal apps from each other and wrapping enterprise apps in protective layers of code allows IT to manage only the company's apps and to leave users' personal apps alone.  But to the dismay of many enterprise mobile management (EMM) companies, MAM is at risk of becoming commoditized because vendors such as Apple and Samsung (the leading Android manufacturer) are building MAM features into their devices.

What's a MAM vendor to do?

There are a few things that MAM vendors can do to stick out from the crowd. First, vendors could offer MDM and MAM services a la carte. Companies usually have a mixture of needs and can benefit from picking and choosing which services they need individually, or buying a whole suite of products.

For example, a carpet manufacturer with a sales floor might want to outfit sales reps with corporate-owned tablets that only run enterprise email and a few work-related apps. For that use case, MDM would be the best tool. The carpet manufacturer might also want to allow its corporate buyers to use their own devices for work. As a result, those devices have a mixture of corporate and personal apps. MAM would be a better fit for the buyers' devices. In this case, the carpet company would be best suited to do a thorough analysis of individual MDM and MAM tools, plus full EMM suites to see if it would be better to take full advantage of a robust EMM tool or if a single MDM or MAM tool would do the trick.

Personally, I'd like to see MAM providers work with vendors such as Apple, Google and Samsung to create a way to wrap third-party apps for use in a MAM system.  This would allow businesses to purchase or designate specific apps for employees to use. It has been a tough road for MAM vendors because there aren't any MAM standards

Alternatively, Apple and Google could create a way for companies to encrypt the data stored in any app in the App Store or Google Play. This would protect the data stored in any apps managed by a company's MAM tool.

In the future, MAM vendors might also consider adding a testing component that would allow admins to see how applications would perform on various OSes.

Another way MAM vendors can stand out is to include a tool that lets help desk reps remotely access a user’s device. This would allow the rep to see exactly what is going on with the device to assist with setup, learning or troubleshooting. There are already remote systems management applications available for IT professionals to use, but MAM vendors would benefit from adding this capability to their products.

There is a place for MAM vendors going forward, but they need to provide more value-added services.  Otherwise they are at risk of becoming obsolete in the face of the renewed enterprise focus of Apple and Samsung.

This was first published in November 2013

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