Mobility management can be cash cows for carriers

Jessica Scarpati

If US wireless carriers aren't already offering some form of mobile device management, they likely soon will be – adding services like inventory, expense and security management – as the market for wireless business services barrels toward the global arena.

“Every carrier in the world is headed in that direction,” said Kathryn Weldon, a principal analyst at Current Analysis Inc. “They can provide a real outsourcing solution or they can provide more of a managed services solution. All the carriers are kind of in different phases of [deploying their strategies].”

Demand for mobility management has followed the rising tide of complexity in devices and the breadth of their use, leaving even enterprises with ample IT departments with more than they can or want to manage.

“Businesses are finding that their reliance on technology is exceeding their ability to support the technology they rely on. As a result of that, there's both an opportunity to provide services and an incentive to provide them,” said Tom Nolle, president of CIMI Corp. “You could see professional services for enterprises being worth multiple hundreds of millions of dollars. It's not at all an insignificant amount of money.”

The market for mobile device management has been heating up for the past two years, and Verizon is the latest to come out swinging. The tier one telco is the first to offer a worldwide mobile device management service, Verizon Managed Mobility Solutions. The service targets global enterprises and launched in the US and 19 European countries on September 30.

The service suite offers support in inventory and expense management, logistics, mobile device management, mobile security and application management. Enterprises can choose à la carte which services to subscribe to. Verizon officials estimated the average subscription would cost $4 per device.

The only service not immediately available will be application management, which is set to be offered in 2010.

Verizon's service suite is built on partnerships with three mobility vendors. Quickcomm and Sybase provide software to manage many of the services offered. Vodafone, a joint partner of Verizon Wireless, will provide logistical support and fulfill device orders for areas outside the U.S.

“As the market matures, you get more and more companies that want the benefit but don't want to actually have to do the nitty-gritty implementation. They want to buy the car and drive it,” said Rob Veitch, senior director of business development at Sybase, based in Dublin, California. “Companies can do all this stuff themselves. Verizon's making it easy.”

But it's not just the revenue that is drawing carriers into the market, Nolle said.