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The company is putting all the building blocks together to potentially become a significant enterprise mobility solutions and services player.
In 2014, Samsung watched its mobile sales drop 21 percent as increased competition further ate away at the company’s market share in the smartphone space. Apple’s consumer-friendly iOS garnered greater control of the high-end smartphone market with the company’s release of a “large-display” iPhone 6 and 6 plus. At the other end of the spectrum, low-end manufacturers such as Xiaomi captured Samsung’s market share—particularly in emerging markets—by producing similar devices with lower prices. As a result, the rapid evolution of the smartphone market has left Samsung squeezed between, and battling Apple and low-end manufacturers. Cognizant of the adverse trend moving against them and keen for alternative avenues of differentiation, Samsung has for several years been increasing its mobile presence in the enterprise space—a market still fairly open for penetration following the decline of BlackBerry and relative neglect by Apple.
A Move into Business Services
When it comes to enterprise mobility, the consumer still rules. The proliferation of “bring your own device” (BYOD) policies throughout the business world requires that a company produce devices sought after by consumers. Given the highly-competitive consumer device landscape, Samsung spent the past few years developing partnerships, software-capabilities, and enterprise mobility expertise to augment their hardware business, addressing the security, management and support requirements critical to enterprise decision makers. To augment these partners, Samsung is also investing in enterprise mobility service capabilities and in January launched the Samsung Business Services program. This program takes a three-tiered approach to addressing the demand for mobility in the enterprise space and builds upon unique capabilities such as KNOX that Samsung has long been developing. At a high level, Samsung intends to be a technology collaborator with an extensive ecosystem of partners to provide mobile solutions to customers.
However, while providing comprehensive support to enterprise customers is helpful and desired by some companies, it will not alone significantly increase the demand for devices. Moreover, the idea that companies desire a seamless and integrated system for managing all things mobile is not revolutionary, with many enterprise IT powerhouses – for example Microsoft or IBM – increasingly well positioned to deliver these capabilities. The key challenge for a company like Samsung – that continues to derive the majority of its mobile revenues through hardware sales – is whether they can affect enterprise decisions in today’s heterogeneous/multi-platform environment. Our contention is that as enterprise’s mobility initiatives continue to become more strategic – and mobile deployment models shift from BYOD to COPE (or more enterprise influenced mobile decisions) – that these enterprise investments and initiatives will provide greater returns.
A Vertical Focus for a Meaningful Impact
Another layer of Samsung’s enterprise approach is establishing vertical or industry specific know-how. Acknowledging that to become “business critical” requires, by in large, focusing on the nuances of certain industries, and creating specific solutions to industry problems; Samsung has tailored its products to the education, healthcare, government, hospitality, and retail industries. These large verticals possess certain characteristics and unique business processes that are in need of technological and mobile solutions. By addressing the concerns of these industries—security, regulation, rapid technological change, etc. — Samsung has the opportunity to become ingrained in business processes, and thus become “business critical”. Today’s these capabilities are still largely a work in process as Samsung invests in building out this institutional knowledge. Given the complexities and nuances associated with many vertical opportunities, this will require staying power from Samsung.
Another critical cog in Samsung’s enterprise push is their extended partnership with BlackBerry. Samsung has integrated BlackBerry’s mobile-billing and encryption technologies into its KNOX platform, enhancing its position in the high end of the security bracket in highly regulated industries. Following the collaboration on the BlackBerry SecuTablet – which features Samsung’s S 10.5 hardware and Knox for device encryption, secure apps and software from BlackBerry and app wrapping technology from IBM – new rumors are surfacing around a Samsung-BlackBerry co-developed Android smartphone. Depending on the success of these initiatives, even closer ties between both organizations is not out of the question.
Finally, the partnership between Red Hat and Samsung, to a certain degree similar to the one between Apple and IBM, looks to provide industry-specific applications that address business concerns and needs. Ultimately this is all about mobile applications and mobilizing enterprise workflows, an area that has been lacking. Leveraging Red Hat’s mobile application platform and optimizing enterprise specific applications on Samsung devices will be central to this relationship. However, the ability of these applications to address business problems will largely go under-utilized unless Samsung can reach the decision makers at these companies. Further in-roads must be made to gain the ear of decision-makers, whom often lie outside the IT department.
Staying the Course
That Samsung is looking to capitalize on mobility demands from the enterprise space is not surprising. The company is putting all the building blocks together to potentially become a significant enterprise mobility solutions and services player. They are clearly not alone with these pursuits, with a more enterprise savvy Apple and a resurging Microsoft – among others – representing key challengers. Microsoft will be particularly interesting to follow with palpable anticipation surrounding Windows 10, their OneDrive for Business solution and leading enterprise identity and access management assets. With the enterprise mobility ‘debate’ shifting towards content and identity management, Microsoft’s position is especially strong.
With much of the enterprise mobility opportunity still ahead of us, Samsung is increasingly well positioned. However, as a company that interprets success on quantity of devices sold, it will be critical for Samsung to set realistic expectations for their enterprise strategy. Staying power and focus will be critical.
Be sure to check out our upcoming VDC View as we dig deeper into this topic!
View the 2017 Enterprise Mobility & Connected Devices Research Outline to learn more.