BMC's purchase of Aeroprise showcases the myth that keeps surrounding client devices, which is that IT wants to manage them. While control is important to IT - and there have been a number of mobile devices, from smartphones to tablets - IT has done everything to avoid buying them. In addition, vendors often approach problems like this with a "not invented here" mentality and figure, also falsely, that when IT buyers are looking to purchase a mobile management application or control panel, simply having a Web-based solution that can be seen on a mobile device is good enough. In short, they spend several years finding out that an interface designed for a PC sucks on a smartphone and end up learning the market through the very expensive method of trial an error. BMC, and this is a best practice, didn't make either mistake in buying Aeroprise, which already had expertise in the mobile market, and focused on bringing system control to mobile devices, which is what IT really seems to want.
Let me explain.
The Mobile Device Management Myth
I see this all the time. A company, be it large or small, thinks that IT wants to manage everything that is in the enterprise. It then builds an enterprise management application, fights like a dog to sell it, is surprised it doesn't sell well and even more surprised when it finds the products it sold were never deployed.
Here is the core reason: IT isn't that fond of job enlargement. If you manage a thing, you own a thing, and if you own a thing, you are responsible for it. IT is spread very thinly; it simply doesn't have the headroom for more responsibility. It gets excited about tools that lower its exposure, but device management tools increase it. Often, IT itself hasn't really thought this through, which is why these device management tools are often bought and then not deployed.
Now this doesn't mean there aren't aspects of these devices that have to be monitored, but the smart IT organizations learn quickly that providing network access restrictions though NAP (Network Access Protocol) solutions provide all of the benefits they are looking for without having to staff another support group with people and funding they don't have.
However, IT does have a ton of stuff to manage and increasingly it has to manage these things remotely. Having a way to do that from a smartphone or tablet has suddenly become a vastly higher need because it improves IT productivity and frees up time for other projects that also have to be done. In short, IT doesn't want to manage these tools, but it does want to use these tools to manage the things it already owns.
BMC did two brilliant things by buying Aeroprise. It didn't fall into the mobile device management trap that has claimed so many others and it didn't try to build for a class of devices that it didn't understand as a company. By buying Aeroprise, it got the leading independent vendor doing mobile versions of enterprise management control interfaces and immediately has solutions for mobile devices that are acceptable to the market, thus avoiding the more traditional learning curve. This is a multi-platform company that had already embraced BlackBerry, iOS, Droid and Windows Mobile platforms and tablets so it can provide a mobile solution on the customer's preferred platform rather than forcing the buyer to shift any hardware they had already purchased.
The analogy would be, say, a NASCAR team that wanted to compete in motorcycle racing, and rather than learning that the driving and mechanical skills don't transfer easily, it simply buys the leading motorcycle team and hits the circuit competitively rather than the more typical 5- to 10-year period of having a team that can't get sponsors because it can't place or win.
Aeroprise already has a rich set of customers for its products, which now fall into the BMC family. These include Unisys, MetLife, Duke Energy and Nokia.
What is somewhat fascinating are the lessons Aeroprise has already learned, which is that the solution it has in the most demand is one that provides for mobile approvals. So much that has to get done in any business is gated by approvals, and simply creating a mobile tool to expedite these approvals has had a massive impact on the productivity of Aeroprise's clients. Other areas in order of importance are: self service (getting the support or call center professional out of the loop), trouble tickets (creation, progress, close), inventory management (big surprise that this would favor a mobile device), field services (resource allocation, progress, oversight) and business services (moves/adds/changes).
Aeroprise reference accounts reported the following benefits: The National Institute of Health reported a 52 percent increase in response time. Montefiore Medical Center reported a drop in support costs of 24 percent. Dow Jones reported a reduction in asset processing costs of about a third. Lennox International reported a 50 percent increase in field productivity. All of this is the result of allowing employees to get work done from wherever they are.
Given that the iPhone is being deployed or tested in about 80 percent and the iPad is being deployed or tested in 65 percent of the Fortune 500, these solutions couldn't be better timed.
Wrapping Up: The Three Lessons
There are three clear lessons in BMC's move to acquire Aeroprise. The first is that you should try to understand what the customers' needs are before bringing to market a product. In this case, IT didn't want to manage another class of device because that would be job enlargement and smart folks avoid that like the plague. Instead, it wants to increase productivity and that means using mobile devices as a stronger tool.
The second lesson is that when bringing to market a product or solution that is dramatically different than what you currently offer, even in just how it is displayed, it is vastly better to buy rather than build the expertise and products. It is the former that is the critical path and no one likes a vendor to learn a new skill on their nickel.
Finally, there is a massive need to enable employees to work from wherever they are and that means on smartphones and tablets. Ignore this trend at your peril as this class of device is moving from consumption to creation very rapidly and those who don't figure out how to ride this wave are likely to get hit by it.