Today marks the official launch of SHI Mobility Services. I say “official” because much of SHI Mobility Services is based on work we’ve been doing for our customers for several years, and now we’ve brought together the complete suite of hardware, software, and services needed to create an integrated and customized mobility solution that meets any need. This is a big move for both SHI and our customers.
The way people look at mobility has changed drastically and quickly. Four years ago, BlackBerry was growing by leaps and bounds, as it fit the need for a tightly controlled enterprise mobile strategy centered on email. Then we gradually started to see companies buying more and more Apple iOS devices, followed by an explosion of interest in Android devices. Email is still important, but mobile is now more about apps and access to information.
SHI Mobility Services reflects this change. SHI still offers BlackBerry, because we think that they remain an important player, but SHI Mobility Services goes across platform – Apple iOS, Android, Windows, and BlackBerry – to provide a completely customized mobility offering for our customers. And it’s not just mobile devices, but also the hardware, software, and services needed to plan, implement, and manage mobile in any size organization.
Grown From Customer Needs
SHI Mobility Services has grown organically out of our customers’ requirements.
We were one of three companies that Apple allowed to sell the Apple iPad when it first came to market. Every time we sold an iPad, we asked what the iPad was being used for. This turned out to be an important question, because it both helped us understand how we could better help that customer in making the purchase and it helped us spot trends in how people were using the iPad. We started to hear recurring themes.
Many people, for example, told us the iPads were to be given to their sales force for sales presentations and demos. With that, we knew there was the need for sleek-looking carrying cases, whether they be leather-bound or embroidered with the company’s logo. We knew that there was probably a need for different applications to be loaded on the device before it was sent to the end user. And we also knew that there were management and security concerns that might involve mobile device management, because with a sales force out in the field, any devices that got lost or stolen might have important company data on them. Asking that one question helped us understand that there was a “use case” for field sales representatives, which enabled us to develop a bundled product offering to better serve the needs of those customers.
Another large influx of requests came from people who were giving the iPad to their field service representatives. Just like the sales reps, these people are out in the field, but they needed a ruggedized solution – tough, rather than pretty, with access to internal systems for trouble tickets and repair manuals. This has proven to be a very popular use case as well.
It was learning from our customers on how they were using these devices and what they needed to really be effective with them that got us away from just selling boxes, or licenses, to selling complete solutions.
No two rollouts have been the same, but the template helps us deliver a complete solution. We just deployed 15,000 ruggedized iOS devices to a large cable company for their service reps. We preloaded not only the Mobile Device Management solution of their choice (in this case SAP Afaria), but also 20 or 30 different apps that these field service technicians use on a daily basis. One of the apps we loaded was a third-party GPS app from the app store, so that the technicians could use their iPads and iPhones to move efficiently between appointments. These devices replace a handheld that cost $1,100, and they also eliminate the need to have a separate GPS device.
Mobile Device Management
One of the key parts of our ability to deliver a complete solution is our support for a wide range of different Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions. If a customer needs it, we want to be able to deliver it.
MDMs are essential to using mobile technology in the enterprise, but it’s still a very new and emerging technology. There is a lot of confusion, with over a hundred different MDMs in the marketplace today. We looked for Gartner’s guidance on this and chose to partner with the companies in the top right corner of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Mobile Device Management: AirWatch, Mobile Iron, Good Technology, XenMobile, and MaaS360. In a little more than a year, we have grown our business with these MDM companies significantly.
We also have strategic partnerships with McAfee and Symantec, both of which are very important to our customers, who want to be able to snap in the MDM solution that aligns with the overall McAfee and Symantec environment.
Support of Different Mobile Platforms
It is also important to us that SHI Mobility Services be platform agnostic. The technology changes quickly in the mobile space – one year it’s BlackBerry and the next year it’s Apple – so we and our customers need to be able to change with it. Many companies are also now segmenting their end users, and deploying different platforms for different needs.
We can handle all of it. As one of only three partners authorized to sell the original iPad, we got an excellent education on what it means to sell iPad in the enterprise. We saw our Apple business more than double after the iPad came out, and the pace has continued. Android is the market share leader for consumers of smartphones, but it still has very big impact on the enterprise because people are bringing them into work and wanting to use them. In terms of Microsoft, Win8 devices are just now coming to market, but SHI sells $2 billion in Microsoft product every year and we will be able to support customers who want to plug mobile into their existing Microsoft infrastructure. With the much anticipated release of BlackBerry Z10, we also think BlackBerry will remain a factor in mobile.
SHI also handles carrier activations. Since we are kitting the devices and pre-installing the applications, it makes sense for us to manage the carrier activation as well. We can support customers on their corporate data plan, we can activate licenses, and we can also review bills to ensure they’re getting the most bang for the buck.
Strategic Planning Services
Because tablets and smart phones are still an emerging technology, companies have a lot of concerns about security in the mobile world, rolling out Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs, and just how mobile can fit into their overall strategy. To help our customers understand these issues, we are partnering with VOX Mobile, the industry leader in managed mobility services, to offer a suite of strategic planning services. SHI Mobility powered by VOX Mobile offers planning modules such as:
- Selecting the right Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution. Out of the hundreds of MDM providers available in the market, based on your key performance indicators, SHI can help determine which is the best MDM for you. This module enables organizations to step back, assess their needs, and short-list the two or three MDM solutions that best align with the needs of your organization.
- Tablet selection. As wonderful as the iPad is, it’s not the perfect tablet for every scenario. This module involves a three- to five-day workshop to help customers get to the right tablet from an agnostic standpoint.
- Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Companies think that because they don’t have to buy the devices for their employees that they’re going to save a lot of money with a BYOD program, but that’s often not the case. Our workshops can help companies understand the security concerns with BYOD and the impact a BYOD program has on support calls to the IT Help Desk. This module leverages the facts and figures pooled from all of the customers that we’ve done these sorts of rollouts for, enabling workshop participants to adopt BYOD more efficiently and more effectively.
As you might imagine, implementation services have been SHI’s bread and butter. We can create a fully configured device before it reaches our customer’s dock. From application loads, to Apple ID creations, we have automated processes that no one in the industry has. It’s not just that it is completely customizable to the customer needs, or that we can deliver the devices at scale, or that we can do it in a very short time period – it’s that we can do all three together. I think our most impressive implementation of this sort was for a large retail organization that needed 17,000 fully configured iOS devices within a 45-day period.
Gartner-Recognized Help Desk Services
As mobility takes off, we’re seeing end users have two or three devices that they want to connect to corporate IT resources, yet at the same time we’re seeing IT departments shrink. IT departments also don’t necessarily have the skill set to manage mobile devices – they are good at managing the back-end infrastructure that controls the desktops, the laptops, and the services, but aren’t necessarily skilled in mobility. By allowing our customers to outsource their mobility help desk to us, we can help keep costs down while delivering support that is experienced in all smart phones and tablets, can support the native apps, and even help with carrier bills, carrier activation, and lost or stolen devices.
Flexible and International
The most important thing to remember about SHI Mobility Services is that it exists to provide you with a completely flexible end-to-end mobility solution. All of the services are a la carte – we do not have set packages that you are forced to take. We create custom solutions for you based on in-depth discussions with you about your needs.
If you are interested in learning more about SHI Mobility Services, please visit our web page. You can also reach out to your SHI account exec and ask them to schedule a call with the mobility team, or drop us a line at Mobility@SHI.com.