AirWatch Highlights MDM in a Post-PC Era

Yesterday Apple CEO Tim Cook showed a chart of how the iPad alone is selling more unites than PCs from any other individual vendor. This is an amazing achievement when you consider the iPad is a few years old and that HP swallowed up Compaq making it the largest vendor in the PC market. Of course with so much device proliferation the question of mobile device management or MDM has to rear its head. As this market is so crucial I am happy I had a chance to sit with Alan Dabbiere the charismatic Chairman of MDM leader Airwatch at MWC 2012.

A good part of our meeting centered around Dabbiere explaining how dominant his company is in the space – with over 500 employees and over 2,000 customers. He went on to say companies like Apple have to share the details of their new products to MDM vendors in advance and they want the market to consist of fewer large vendors. Other growth data points worth noting are the company has seen sequential MDM growth numbers between 30-100% in each quarter in 2011.

Moreover, the R&D team is now 175 people with R&D expense running at about 25% of revenue – a healthy number. Some of the differentiating features the company touts are support for all major OS versions as well as scalability, intelligent notifications, an SDK, an HTML5 console, an enterprise app catalogue and a multi-lingual console.

What Dabbiere spent considerable time discussing is the company’s secure content locker which allows anyone with console access to push content to selected users. What differentiates this solution from emailing content is the inability for users to subsequently take ownership of the content and forward in an unauthorized manner.

A real world example of how it works is adding a tab in the content locker which is sent to the board of directors just prior to a board meeting and then recalled the documents after the meeting is over. In another case an investment bank can use this solution to push research reports to clients without fear of them being able to forward these proprietary research documents to brokers at rival banks.

Of course I know your next question – in the case of a company pushing out content to non-employees – can the locker be branded by the company? The answer is yes. So Goldman Sachs could brand their own content locker and tabs which their clients can access but not copy or forward.

The final use case he shared was more esoteric but certainly helpful if you at a theme park in Orlando in August. Let’s assume you run a theme park where characters with big ears are prominently displayed and you would like to get email addresses for all your visitors but they likely don’t want to share this information with you as they fear spam. So instead you ask them to download a free app which includes a park map and then notify them when a ride is under or over crowded. Utilizing  GPS of course would help you target visitors before they head to a part of the park which is overflowing with people.

Likewise you can use the app to help manage restaurant capacity – in other words you can send coupons to restaurants which are under crowded to ensure visitors are more evenly dispersed throughout the part. Another idea is if the park is experiencing capacity issues at all restaurants at the same time you can send a coupon to guests telling them it will be honored at a later time like say 1:00 pm.

Mobile device proliferation isn’t slowing down and neither is the need to manage and control the content on all these devices. One can imagine the MDM space and AirWatch have significant room to grow for the foreseeable future. At the moment the application is available on iOS and Android support should be here in a month with PC access available in the next 3-6 months.

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