Vertical focused solutions - Helping decipher the paradox for mobile manufacturersAnkush Tiwari
Growing penetration of smart phones into the consumer space has led to the demand for feature rich, consumer like business apps. Parallely, the mobile devices ecosystem, which started with a consumer focused mind-set, is now staring at a saturation point and looking for disruptive methods of capturing and converting a greater market share.
Interestingly, the future of these two segments demands a phase of convergent evolution for both wherein ODM’s design and develop vertical focused solutions for the enterprise audience lead to adoption of mobility in the enterprise and create a demand for devices . This helps ODMs capture a majority slice of the lucrative EMM (Enterprise Mobility Management) market that comprises services like MDM, MAM, Mobile Security and Mobile Content Management. Now this is where we talk of disruption wherein ODMs should focus on providing integrated software and hardware platform on top of which multiple vertical based products can be built and delivered.
Though the realization of the above facts isn’t new, successful implementation of the enterprise device business has been a bottleneck. Apple and Blackberry have been pioneers in this initiative with their iOS Enterprise and the Blackberry Enterprise services. Samsung and LG followed suit with their Knox and LG Gate products. However, a basic challenge for today’s CIO is how they define the usage policy of these various standalone products across the various verticals of their business and how they integrate these disparate offerings into a unified mobility platform across the enterprise.
From an ODM’s perspective, there is this dichotomy of catering to the requirements of two different segments with different feature set requirements. While the consumer segment has been aptly catered to, enterprises are more demanding in terms of hardware and software support. The Achilles heel of today’s ODM is how to deliver on the enterprise expectations without compromising on their consumer focused feature set. This has resulted in ODMs extending their product line and making extensive investments to create enterprise devices but even that approach has failed to deliver. The prime reason behind this is the inflexibility of the ODMs on two fronts: enterprise features and price.
Traditionally, it is a tussle that involves putting together a device which is a perfect fit for organizational requirements but doesn’t compromise on the consumer focused model of the device manufacturer. So where is the opportunity?
The figure above shows that there is a huge untapped opportunity at a lower price point wherein ODMs have not yet made an impact. Neither the business model nor the functional package has been defined for this opportunity. This gap is further amplified by the fact that though major players are active in the EMM space, there is not a single comprehensive solution provider which gives enterprises the flexibility to choose their own device, their own apps and the way they would like to manage those for their individual verticals.
Looking beyond the enterprise horizon
2014 has been the year of custom ROM. It started with CyanogenMod, which disrupted the mobile device market with its OnePlus tie up and brought much needed flexibility at a price point most of us could afford. Same has been the case with OxygenOS, the newly announced OS that will compete with other custom ROMs. But yet again, ODMs are overlooking a very big enterprise segment.
Ideally, a low cost device with a custom ROM which is open enough to integrate seamlessly with enterprise apps and supports enterprise pre-requisites such as VPN, SSO and ADFS would be a perfect fit. Such a solution would also support mobile device management, app wrapping, secure storage, file sharing etc. Existing ODMs in India can utilize this need gap by being the first movers in this space. What is delivered as part of their package is an enterprise ready device coupled with a custom ROM that has SDK to integrate with LOB enterprise apps and/ or gives the flexibility to ODMs to custom build packages targeted at various verticals. Point in case example being a single device that can securely connect to backend ERP systems in the procurement department of a FMCG company. The same device can be made available to the field force of the FMCG company with integrated CRM access wherein customer data gets updated into the backend remotely.
Not only hardware and software, the future of device sales would also be greatly influenced by the business model. In the future, we are looking at an opex based model wherein devices are procured by the enterprise on contractual basis for a specific period during which the entire after-sales service and maintenance is taken care of by the ODM. It is a multipronged approach wherein the ODMs ensure a long term commitment as well as maximize ROI for the enterprise.
Going forward, the answer for the ODMs lies in creating an ecosystem of managed mobility services for the enterprise on the same lines as one created for the customer through the app store and OTT players. It is only then that we would see penetration in the enterprise space.