IBM Steps up Competition with MobileFirst Initiative

by Kathryn Nassberg | 04/11/2014

This week, IBM announced the expansion of its MobileFirst Consulting Services, its mobile solution portfolio launched in 2013 to streamline and accelerate enterprise mobile adoption. The announcement highlighted eight services designed to solidify mobile infrastructure consulting, mobile application management, and mobile device procurement and management services.  With this, IBM is further expanding its reach within a market that has matured and consolidated considerably within the past year.

IBM paves the way to go big with mobile solutions

IBM has made significant strides to increase the scope of its services, increasingly eschewing hardware in favor of applications and services and bolstering its already strong presence in the cloud. The firm’s acquisition of Fiberlink in November of last year came as no surprise and will provide the opportunity for IBM to be a significant player in their mobile infrastructure consulting services space. As early as 2012, VDC blogged that the roster of vendors offering EMM solutions would likely broaden to include a spectrum of technology-oriented vendors including hardware OEMs. Fiberlink, a mobile-first MDM vendor, was a smart and necessary acquisition if IBM wants to become a leader of MDM consulting services. In light of the tech giant’s recent activity, we believe that IBM is in a position to put programs in place to enable partners to sell its MobileFirst platform both as a managed service and on an a la carte basis. Given IBM’s resources and brand recognition, VDC feels it’s only a matter of time before IBM launches a large-scale marketing campaign to fully leverage its position and kick the competition into high gear.

Let the mobile hunger games begin

Recent activity in the mobile solutions market underscores how the sector is more competitive than ever. Wave after wave of acquisition have mostly cleared the way for larger companies, who are increasingly feeling the pressure to perform either on price or innovation. Following IBM’s acquisition of Fiberlink, VMware’s January acquisition of AirWatch and the much-anticipated entrance of Microsoft with its EMM solution offering announced at its Build event last week shows that the stakes are higher than ever. While these acquisitions provide the means to offer a broad portfolio of solutions, integrating these vendors quickly and efficiently is still critical.  

Those who have survived the acquisitions are digging in their heels for the long run: just last week, MobileIron filed its S1 in anticipation of going public and Good Technology isn’t far behind as it moves towards its own S1. The filings show a proven business model and investor confidence, but competition will still be high as IBM expands its reach and other large firms like Oracle and Dell enter the space. The market has matured at a lightning pace, with smaller and larger firms alike experiencing compressed timeframes as ever-larger companies enter the ring. 

(Reserach and contributions by Eric Klein and Katelyn Moroney)