RIP MDM 200X – December 16th 2011

by Brian Katz on December 19, 2011 · 5 comments

Mobile Device Management (MDM) is dead and many hardly knew you. There, I’ve finally put the words to paper that I knew would someday have to be written. I truly never thought you would hang on this long but you really managed to stick it out. It is an honor to deliver this final eulogy for you.

It can be hard to say goodbye to a loved one, or a new friend especially as we were just getting to know, understand, and yes, even love them. You have been in the papers at least a few times a week over the last few months. Gartner grew so enamored they even created a Magic Quadrant just for you.It showed how some were really learning to provide you as a toolkit with oh so many uses. You were the savior for Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD). As long as you were around enterprises would sleep safe knowing you were protecting them. Even RIM, who for so long only wanted to keep their own babies safe and sound finally decided that you could help it regain some lustre by protecting the children of other parents.

You had such a bright future and now you’re just starting to fade into memories. Don’t fret, most people haven’t realized that you’re dead yet. They will be singing your praises for a longtime to come, not realizing that you’ve already moved on.

No need to worry, you’ll continue to exist moving forward.Parts of you will be transplanted into other products. You know the parts, you were so good at finding a device, you could wipe a device like no one’s business, when you wanted someone to use a password, by golly they used one. You were great at handing applications out and in some cases you even learnt how to take them back. You even got pretty good at making people use encryption, just to make sure they could hide their secrets. Those parts of you will never disappear, no, they will become standard functionality no matter what tool people are looking at. They won’t ask vendors if their software will do that anymore, they’ll just know it’s already there.

MDM, we hardly knew you but just think, before you left this world you actually made people start to think about your progeny Mobile Application Management (MAM). MAM will replace you for a short time. Some have already figured that out. It will become the favorite for enabling BYOD. But just wait till you see what’s waiting right around the corner, only a glint in MAMs eye. They don’t know it yet but it will be named after you too. The new MDM will be out in a few years, a proper namesake for you, standing for Mobile Data Management (mostly because people can’t think of a better name to call it quite honestly). This will be when people realize that they need to start managing their data and not their applications. The data will determine what the application does and how it functions. Enterprises will rest easy as they know their data will be protected and your legacy will carry on.

Rest in peace MDM, gone but not forgotten.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous December 20, 2011 at 9:25 am

Well written Brian.

Mdm was a weak boutique endpoint prophylactic that really never got off the ground. And rightly so. The real issue presented to the enterprise has been and will continue to be threat risk management. It was true on laptops. Mobile makes the issue more poignant. 

The market problem of course, is that VC’s are funding bits and pieces of solutions as entrepreneur’s cobble solutions that arguably address specific, if only myopic, pain points against the short buck.

One of the rising tides of 2012 will be lots of consolidation in the MDM, MAM ( a market I suggest doesn’t exist in the first place) and MAV space before seeing real solutions emerge in 2013. 


John Perri December 20, 2011 at 6:07 pm

I’ve been thinking for some time that MDM is a passing phase to be gobbled up as pieces of other applications and especially carrier capabilities which is where it belongs. The carriers can perform many of the MDM capabilities more reliably and elegantly than the heavy handed approach of an imperfect MDM mobile app.


Justyn Roberts December 21, 2011 at 6:41 am

As a 13 Year vetran of MDM, This is very interesting Brian. I think the market of MDM has been adjusted over time to encompass new features that are available now, and way more broad than the traditional push & measure software,policies and inventory.. Over the last years we have seen endpoint protection,content management even VPN technology being brought under the MDM banner.

What makes the whole market interesting IMHO at the moment is an influx of devices that people actually want to use – Tablets that work the whole day, intuitive phones that engage usage, opening the adoption barriers of giving users real access to business data.

MDM will always be an essential part of any project success, to mitigate risk and preserve security, but will inevitably be part of a bigger offering of a complimentary technology.. It will also be perceived as a standalone product that if purchased is of lower value, with the real benefits being enablement and management of the business applications to drive process.

Good Stuff


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