Magazine Article | January 16, 2013

MDM: Your Next Managed Services Offering

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By Jay McCall, Business Solutions magazine.

Industry experts offer advice regarding how to roll out MDM (mobile device management) solutions and caution against common implementation mistakes.

IIn addition to the growing BYOD (bring your own device) trend, many businesses are turning to mobile devices and solutions to help their outside salespeople, technicians, and business travelers to be more productive while away from the office. Both of these trends are leading to a greater need for mobile device management (MDM), which itself is a market that’s predicted to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 31.34% between 2011 and 2015. To assist managed services providers looking to add MDM to their offerings, I spoke with two industry experts who were happy to share their insights.

Sean Vojtasko is executive VP at BlueWave Computing, one of the largest MSPs in the country. Not only does BlueWave currently have 18,000 devices under management, but also this MSP has averaged 50% year-over-year revenue growth over the past five years. When asked for his advice regarding how an MSP can add MDM to its existing offerings, Vojtasko emphasized, “You need to treat mobile devices like any other network-attached devices and understand what role the devices play in helping your customers do their jobs better.” He cites healthcare as an example of a vertical where he’s seeing a big uptick in mobile computing adoption and currently has customers accessing their EMRs (electronic medical records) via secure mobile access points. “What does it mean if an anesthesiologist can’t access a Wi-Fi network to verify a patient’s medical records during surgery? It can be life threatening,” he says.

Take A Phased Approach To Rolling Out MDM
Len DiCostanzo, senior vice president of business development at Autotask, believes, “It’s easier for an MSP to sell deeper into its existing customer base by offering new services such as MDM than it is to focus solely on acquiring new customers.” But, you can’t expect to get MDM right overnight, he warns. Besides selecting the right MDM software, which supports all your customers’ mobile platforms and your RMM (remote monitoring and management) and PSA (professional services automation) software, you’ll need to figure out any nuances with this new service. “Once you have the right software tools in place, you need to test and use the service internally,” advises DiCostanzo. “After that, you can hand pick a few close customers and roll out this service with them, asking for feedback along the way.” After feeling comfortable with your closest group of customers, DiCostanzo recommends expanding to your next tier of customers, and after that start offering this service to prospects.

Don’t Undersell Your MDM Offering
Getting the technology part of MDM right is only half the battle. Figuring out how to price it is equally important. Some MSPs justify giving away MDM services by rationalizing that a client’s mobile device often isn’t their primary device, and they’re already paying a monthly fee for the devices they’re using most often. This is the wrong mindset, according to Vojtasko and DiCostanzo. “If your customer allows employees to bring in their own mobile devices and opts not to pay for your MDM services, they’re making themselves vulnerable to introducing a virus to their network, crashing their network, and even violating HIPAA regulations,” says Vojtasko. “This is what makes your MDM services valuable to your customers, and it’s why it’s worth their paying a monthly fee that’s on par with protecting their servers and workstations.”

DiCostanzo believes that pricing your MDM services can be tricky, but agrees with Vojtasko that the key is to first understand the cost of delivering the service. “Prior to setting your MDM price, you need to know your internal labor costs required to manage and use your MDM service delivery tools, your MDM licensing costs, and your monthly labor costs to deliver your MDM services,” says DiCostanzo. “This is another benefit to taking a phased rollout approach mentioned earlier, so you can get a more accurate understanding of all your MDM costs before making a public announcement and locking yourself into a price prematurely.”

With the ongoing trend of workers wanting to use their personal mobile devices at work, combined with companies recognizing the value of mobilizing traditional office applications, MDM will be a hot trend for years to come. By treating this offering as a worthy IT service and understanding how it can benefit your customer, you can avoid the pitfall of giving away this valuable service and increase your profit margins to a level that you deserve.

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