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EMM sings its swan song

The heyday of enterprise mobility management is coming to an end.

The value of EMM vendors has fallen off a cliff, and the technology is no longer the focal point of most end-user computing products.

The EMM market peaked in January 2014, when VMware acquired then-market-leading AirWatch for $1.2 billion. In March 2015, with expectations of a similar haul, Good Technology rejected an $825 million offer from systems management vendor CA Technologies, according to a December report by The New York Times.

Shortly thereafter, the downturn began. Within six months, Good found itself accepting a much smaller buyout offer—$425 million—from rival BlackBerry. The stock of MobileIron, the largest remaining standalone EMM vendor, has been in the tank over much of the past year, and the company just named a new CEO: Barry Mainz, the subject of this issue’s Face Time interview.

Meanwhile, all the large vendors who got into the EMM game over the past half-decade now have grander visions for enterprise mobility. VMware and Citrix are all about workspaces, which give mobile workers access to desktops, applications and data on any device. IBM and SAP hang their hats on mobile application development and backend services. Microsoft has Windows 10, which can run on almost any device, and versions of its stalwart Office software are available for all major mobile operating systems.

All these strategies rely on integration with EMM to some extent, but it’s not the centerpiece. Even Mainz didn’t give an unequivocal “yes” when I asked him if EMM has a future as a standalone product.

“We’re going to get a rejuvenation,” he said. “EMM’s a part of it, but there’s also a security and business process integration piece.”

This trend isn’t necessarily a bad thing. EMM was never supposed to be the end game for end-user computing. It’s required technology for securing data in the mobile era. But if mobile workers don’t have access to their data and next-generation apps, EMM by itself has limited value.

The market has clearly realized this fact.

This post originally appeared in the March issue of the Modern Mobility e-zine.