Just as the mainframe gave way to PCs and servers, the mobile device is fast becoming the front-end tool of choice for many end users.
Many people still use PCs in their daily work. Even more rely on mobile devices — smartphones and tablets. Shipments of smartphones and tablets are expected to exceed shipments of desktops and laptops in 2013. There are more devices in the hands of more people than ever before.
Just as the Internet transformed the way in which businesses reached out to their customers, mobile devices are changing the way those customers want to connect with businesses. And, of course, the customers are only half of the equation. Employees are pushing to use this technology to give them more flexibility.
Organizations face a big challenge in making these mobile devices useful for business. Part of the reason for this challenge is these devices are designed with the consumer in mind and are working their way backward into the enterprise. Right now most organizations are in a reactive mobile mode — dealing with a myriad of devices, apps and users.
But one organization’s challenge can be another’s opportunity. Technology solution providers may well find business opportunities in helping their customers think proactively about mobility: What do we want to achieve with mobile devices and how do we get there?
Think about the services and solutions your company offers today to its customers. Are you providing security services? If you are, why not expand into mobile security? Present your customers with an overall security picture tying everything together rather than addressing security as several standalone pieces.
Another possibility is to partner with a telecom or wireless carrier and serve as the point of contact for customers at the device level for sales and repair. Some channel companies now offer mobile device management services. But the trend is moving away from the device to the application to comprehensive enterprise mobility management.
Many companies are struggling with integration of all the elements that make up the mobile ecosystem, and that may be a good opportunity for channel companies. The work will be highly personalized based on each customer’s needs and it will take some specialized skill. But oftentimes areas with the greatest complication offer the greatest financial opportunity, too.
Verticals are another interesting area to think about. There are a lot of new opportunities within verticals — retail and health care, for instance. Each has very different needs. But if you are already working in a vertical market, expanding your portfolio to include mobility-related services and solutions is another way to set yourself apart.