Workplace mobility initiatives are extending beyond the white-collar worker to encompass an ever-increasing range of employee roles and business activities. Android devices, especially smartphones, currently dominate the consumer-owned market, and Apple iOS devices are very popular among tech-savvy BYODers. However, Microsoft still maintains market share and mind share in the world of company-owned devices, especially where laptop computers are concerned, so the company is trying hard to leverage this position in the hope that the business bulk purchases of commodity devices will give it one last chance of securing a meaningful spot in the lucrative and strategically important mobile market.
Microsoft’s somewhat minimal participation at Mobile World Congress 2015 reflected the position of the vendor in a world that is currently dominated by Android and Apple iOS devices. But appearing relatively unperturbed and none too disheartened by recent market figures (which suggest that Windows Phone global market share is now below 5%), Microsoft executives took to the stage to buoy up the forthcoming release of Windows 10 and highlight the unique value proposition that the company is able to offer businesses and institutions as they build out their enterprise mobility strategies.
Taken at face value, the combination of Office 365 (Microsoft’s cloud-based business collaboration and productivity platform) and Intune (Microsoft’s cloud-based mobile device management, mobile application management, and PC management offering) appears to address the primary needs and requirements of organizations as they try to support new, modern work styles and initiate business process transformation programs with technologies that enable “enterprise mobility.” Office 365 is device-agnostic, and Intune supports heterogeneous environments, so Microsoft is clearly open for mobile business. Moreover, if organizations want to provide employees with a unified experience across desktop, tablet, and smartphone, then Microsoft will welcome CIOs with open arms, offering some very attractive deals that include highly affordable, functionally rich Lumia smartphones and “phablets.”
Google is highly attuned to the presence and continued threat of Microsoft in the workplace, and it wants to ensure that it has every move covered with respect to Android and the devices bridgehead this represents. To this end, Google recently unveiled Android for Work, a new built-in feature available on selected devices running Android Lollipop and facilitated by a downloadable app on others. Android for Work enables corporate IT departments to create a managed “work” profile on supported Android devices. Its launch partners included leading enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendors, though, unsurprisingly, Microsoft was not one of them. Developers need to modify their apps to support for Android for Work, and this hints at a chink in the armor in its enterprise-readiness – one that Microsoft is sure to exploit as it goes head to head with Google to defend its last remaining stronghold.
Ovum Decision Matrix: Selecting an Enterprise Mobility Management Solution, 2014–15, IT0021-000023 (September 2014)
Employee Mobility Survey 2014 Results: BYOD and Enterprise Approaches to Mobility Management, IT0021-000020 (September 2014)
Richard Edwards, Principal Analyst, Enterprise Productivity & Mobility
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