Is Microsoft A Secret Enterprise Mobility Challenger?

While declaring the 2015 numbers, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner, announced one product as their “hottest” product and predicted that it would be a “$ 1 Billion product in the future”. This product was the Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), only a year in the market at the time of Turner’s enthusiastic endorsement. At the time, Corporate VP Brad Anderson said, “As the value and necessity of EMM grows, we see customers evolving their approach, innovating, and bringing new needs and demands every day. On a really regular basis I see the traditional point solution MDM vendors, or the identity and access management vendors, struggling to keep up with these demands – customers are seeking more comprehensive and holistic solutions that are architect-ed for (and can scale to) the cloud.”

In the time since that announcement, while EMS doesn’t yet seem to have hit that landmark number, Microsoft’s focus on the space is clearly apparent. In line with Anderson’s observation, there also seems a clear recognition of the kind of customers to target. Organizations that appreciate comprehensive solutions, with robust architecture, the ability to scale, and a significant cloud story seem to be in their sights – in other words, Enterprise customers. Does that mean that Microsoft could be a secret challenger for the Enterprise Mobility market?

First, though, perhaps Microsoft’s Enterprise focus shouldn’t come as a surprise – this focus has always been there. The revenues for the first Q of the ongoing Financial year, as a case in point, showed the most significant growth in Office commercial revenue (up 5%), server revenue (up 11%) and in other Enterprise friendly products like the “intelligent cloud” (up 8%) and Azure (up a whopping 116%).

Microsoft thus has a ready opening with its Office suite of products – still a staple in most enterprises. It seems a natural extension for those enterprises to turn to Office 365 when they want to extend the reach of those productivity apps into the mobile workforce. Microsoft reported that Office has already been downloaded 340 million times on iPhones, iPads and Android devices. This may only be the tip of the app iceberg, though – there are a further 669000 apps for phones, tablets, and desktops on the Windows Store. This signifies a clear attempt by Microsoft to build a comprehensive ecosystem for the Enterprise.

Another beachhead seems to have been established by the organic growth of Microsoft in the Enterprise segment with its newly-found Cloud focus. Microsoft reported that 80% of the Fortune 500 were on the Microsoft Cloud. It’s not only large Enterprises turning to the Microsoft Cloud, 40% of Azure’s revenue comes from ISVs and startups. This is significant because there is a natural coming together of the Cloud and Mobility all across the Enterprise. This forms a potent combination that Microsoft is trying to set itself up to exploit.

One clear sign of Microsoft’s Enterprise interest is visible in how EMS has evolved. The product, earlier called the Enterprise Mobility Suite is now named as the Enterprise Mobility + Security (still EMS) and includes a significant nod to the concern of Enterprises everywhere about Security. A key part of the suite is Microsoft Intune. Intune has capabilities for managing mobile devices, apps, and even PCs, all from the Cloud. This allows employees to leverage data and corporate apps, on-demand, from anywhere – all while being perfectly secure. The suite also features Azure Rights Management, which makes securely sharing protected files inside and outside the organization very easy. Other significant inclusions are Azure Active Directory Premium for managing identity and access, Azure Information Protection for protecting information, and Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics + Microsoft Cloud App Security for identity-driven security applications. Coupled with Azure Active Directory, all this forms a pretty formidable secure shield designed for Enterprise acceptability.

This does not mean that it’s all smooth sailing, though. Microsoft’s mobile story has had its fair share of ups and downs as Nokia and Windows Mobile will attest. That said, though, there is clearly some fresh thinking sweeping through the corridors of power at Redmond WA and that could well mean a new Enterprise Mobility generation built on a solid Microsoft foundation – stranger things have happened!

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