Smart Money: Where There's Mobility, There's Margin


Solution providers big and small are tackling the explosion of mobile devices in the enterprise, whether those devices are proliferating via employer purchasing or through BYOD policies. And unlike the PC, there are plenty of options for operating systems, hardware designs and device sizes.

But that immense wave of choices can be a double-edged sword, as companies attempt to navigate a widening field of platforms and hardware to find the right mobile solution for their business. Enter the mobility-focused solution provider, which is establishing itself as the lone beacon to help guide companies through the maze.

Boston-based iCorps traditionally made most of its revenue around the data center, but in the past couple of years the business has shifted more toward mobility solutions. The company now works with a wide range of vendors, including Microsoft, Apple and BlackBerry, in the growing mobile market. Jeffery Lauria, director of technology at iCorps, said he's seen an enormous shift in how corporate America, whether small and midsize businesses or large enterprises, look at mobility.

 

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"We're seeing a lot more companies that were very restrictive about technology and devices open up more," Lauria said. "Having the latest and greatest technology helps companies attract younger talent. Plus, a lot of companies don't want to be in the business of purchasing devices for their employees."

The mobility market has become so big that some solution providers say it now rivals the growth and opportunity of cloud computing. Karl Volkman, chief technology officer at SRV Network, Chicago, said cloud and mobility are now neck and neck as SRV Network's two biggest businesses. Volkman said the two biggest drivers of mobility are the diversity of devices and operating systems and the lack of any real mobility strategies or BYOD policies in the majority of corporations.

"Most companies we see don't support BYOD policies just yet," he said. "They may be allowing employee-owned devices into the office, but they don't have any sort of plan for device management, security and data protection."

A recent study by the Ponemon Institute, commissioned by data backup vendor Acronis, revealed that 60 percent of companies don't have a BYOD policy, while 80 percent of companies haven't educated their employees about mobile devices or BYOD. And even when businesses deploy a BYOD strategy and empower employees to select and purchase their own mobile devices, solution providers say most companies recommend choosing from a small range of devices or platforms.

And those recommendations usually come from the solution provider. So how do mobility-focused VARs decide which mobile OS, device and apps are the right ones for clients? CRN takes a closer look at the boom of smartphones and tablets in the enterprise to see how solution providers are influencing the mobile revolution.

NEXT: BYOD And Mobile Moneymakers