Mobile Device Management: Can You Make A Profit? (Really?)

Mobile Device Management: Can You Make A Profit? (Really?)

Mobile device management (MDM) software and cloud platforms continue to flood the market. Sales of smart phones and tablets continue to rise. More than 70 percent of MSPs say they offer MDM services, according to our fifth-annual MSPmentor 100 report. The time is ripe for managed services providers to profit from MDM. Or is it?

Here's the challenge: I think some MSPs and media folks (myself included) have been trying to apply a PC management mentality to smart phones and tablets. Here's what I mean:

  • The PC support model: Through managed services and predictable monthly fees, MSPs have proactively maintained PCs, applied patches, bolstered security and mitigated problems before they spiraled out of control.
  • The mobile device management model: I don't think the PC model of managed services applies to the MDM world. I've owned tablets for a couple of years now. They don't break. They don't crash. They don't require all sorts of patching. They just work.
So how can MSPs still make a buck "managing" tablets that don't require "traditional" managed services? Here are a few ideas:
  • Lifecycle management services: How are tablets procured, activated, linked securely to networks, maintained, updated and then retired? Answer those questions and perhaps you'll find recurring revenues...
  • Mobile Application Management: Sure, keeping hardware in tip-top shape is important. But the real magic involves the software. How are you helping your customers to find the right apps -- whether they're mobile apps or VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure) approaches? How do you help customers to find and "approve" specific apps for business use? And how do you stop non-approved apps from mucking up the customer's IT environment?
  • MDM and Your Help Desk: How do you extend your help desk and NOC services to smart phones and tablets? What are the top 10 questions tablet users raise when calling the help desk? And how can you transform those questions into revenue-producing services?
  • Peer Groups: If you listen closely enough, you'll find big mobile companies (did somebody mention Apple) working closely with MSP- and VAR-centric peer groups (did somebody mention HTG Peer Groups?). Plug into those conversations and you may learn how some MSPs are developing profit-driven MDM services.
Bottom line: Start documenting customer questions about tablets, mobile applications and so on. The inquiries provide the clues you'll need to develop new, profitable services.

I haven't heard "overwhelming" buzz about profitable MDM services. But I do know MSPs are testing or rolling out a range of MDM software and cloud services... I'm curious to learn how those rollouts potentially generate revenues.
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