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Top trends in enterprise mobility suites for 2016

Consolidation, customization and the cloud will all have major ramifications for enterprise mobility suites in the new year. Keep an eye on mobile app and content management, too.

Enterprise mobility suites have grown up, but there's little indication of a slowdown in innovation.

What started as a disjointed collection of relatively simple tools -- driven more by necessity than by some grand strategy -- has morphed into essential functionality for any organization with a mobile workforce. Today, enterprise mobility is the extension of IT capabilities and services beyond the perimeter of the physical office, allowing for the provisioning of potentially all IT services to a broad range of users on a wide variety of devices and networks.

Enterprise mobility management (EMM) is thus now essential, and it should be at the heart of every mobility strategy. With that in mind, here's a look at the top trends in enterprise mobility for 2016.

MDM's marginalization

EMM remains synonymous with mobile device management (MDM) in the minds of many IT professionals, but the range of required EMM functionality today goes far beyond MDM alone. It may even be the case that, in the era of BYOD, MDM is a relatively unimportant component of enterprise mobility suites. Instead, with the increasing focus on balancing security and usability, there are three other components that will command far greater attention in 2016: mobile application management (MAM), mobile content management and identity management. There will also be increased emphasis on mobile analytics and optimization as well.

Feature consolidation

EMM must offer deep integration with other operational management tools.

All innovations, especially those in IT, begin as point products. They offer limited functionality and address a single quantifiable need. MDM was initially so important because it addressed the device configuration requirements needed to achieve compliance with organizational policies. Over time, however, it often becomes clear that point products work better in tandem with existing products and other new innovations. Such consolidation will accelerate in the EMM market in 2016, ultimately leading to comprehensive, single-console enterprise mobility suites.

Vendor consolidation

Just as EMM functionality is being rolled up into bigger, more comprehensive suites, so too will vendors continue to consolidate. There was already a number of high-profile acquisitions as major software and services providers recognized the importance of enterprise mobility, and there will be more in 2016, focused on software, IT services and cloud computing. Take caution, however. Today's leading-edge -- or even simply adequate -- products may not keep pace under new ownership. It's a good idea to be flexible and pay continued attention to the marketplace.

Customizable enterprise mobility suites

Despite this consolidation trend, no single EMM offering can be expected to completely address the operating requirements of any organization. A high degree of product diversity is practically traditional and almost always warranted. EMM must offer deep integration with other operational management tools and become extensible via plug-ins, APIs and other mechanisms. There will be a trend toward more integratable functionality and away from monolithic, take-it-or-leave-it offerings.

Cloud's importance

The cloud is becoming the ideal residence for all IT management systems, including EMM. Additionally, EMM is extending its reach to all types of devices and applications, including Windows 10 PCs, server- and client-based software and cloud services. Enterprise mobility suites will become the operations management focal point as even more IT capabilities migrate to the cloud.

Next Steps

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