5 Steps to Take Before Adding MDM to Your Services Portfolio

Ray VrabelBy Raymond Vrabel

In my July blog post, I discussed why it makes sense to join a peer group. This month, I circle back to discuss a topic that I briefly mentioned in my June blog – specific revenue streams that MSPs need to be offering now, namely Mobile Device Management (MDM). As bring your own device (BYOD) becomes more prevalent among SMBs, MSPs need to manage more of these devices than ever before. With that in mind, here are five suggestions on what MSPs can do before adding MDM to their services portfolio:

1. Talk to your peers. Your best resources are your fellow MSPs and industry peers. Do some peer-to-peer networking by asking those who have added MDM to their services platform. Start by inquiring with your current vendors who work with an MDM provider; ask if they have a few partners you can speak with who have successfully added MDM. If you belong to an industry association and/or peer group, have a discussion with fellow members; many might be having the same thoughts and would welcome an open, lively discussion on this topic. You can also turn to online communities, such as Spiceworks or LinkedIn, to post questions and hear from MSPs across the globe. Think of it almost as an oral case study in which you can all share best practices and real-life situations.

2. Do your homework. Check the websites of vendors who have relationships with MDM providers and see if they offer any additional resources, such as white papers, case studies and other statistics that can help with your research and education. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant is another notable resource provided by the analyst firm, which offers a graphical competitive positioning of four types of technology providers in fast-growing markets (such as MDM): Leaders, Visionaries, Niche Players and Challengers.

3. Keep your clients in mind. When looking to add MDM, think about how you can offer this technology to your current clients in a way that’s easy to adopt and will provide them with peace of mind. Many partners have shared with me that one of the biggest concerns their clients have with MDM and/or BYOD is security, mainly because it is so open and/or uncontrolled when employees use personal devices.

Many SMBs might be concerned about what would happen to the data the employee has on their mobile device should something like a termination or resignation occur. However, to ease SMB fears, I have found that it makes sense to compare MDM to backup and disaster recovery (BDR). Many SMB clients were likely apprehensive of this prospect in the beginning as well, and it might have been a challenge to get them to purchase this additional service. However, MDM (like BDR) is a hot-button issue, which allows them to easily set policies and procedures via one cohesive platform. Before approaching them with MDM, I would recommend first discussing their pain points and issues to see if MDM may be a solution to a current problem.

4. Look for an appropriate vendor. When speaking to potential vendors, think about the amount of R&D they are investing in new products and updates as they might just be covering basic functions. Are they staying current with the many changes, vulnerabilities and patches to today’s mobile operating systems? Make sure the vendor has a process in place for managing polices and securities, as well as advanced features that are up-to-date. A secure email management solution is also something to consider for your MDM package, as mobile email is a major communication channel that typically goes unmonitored — and is one of the most common channels where sensitive information is hacked and/or leaked.

Approach your remote monitoring and management (RMM) vendor and find out if they currently have any partnerships in place with an MDM provider. If so, it’s probably easier to utilize their solution as it’s already integrated with their portal and allows you to be much more efficient as an MSP, rather than having to manage two completely separate solutions. It also makes the transition easier in terms of time, money and operations.

5. Consider the value proposition. Bottom line: MDM requires working with data that is often used on someone’s personal device. It’s more granular, so you have to be clear and specific in your case for adding MDM. There has to be a demonstrated value; if your clients don’t think about adding this service (like BDR), they are putting their employees and their businesses at risk. It’s all about positioning the right message — they must protect both themselves and their data. This also refers to business as well as technical value; you need to be able to demonstrate to your SMB clients that MDM can also help them from a business standpoint, such as maintaining security, protecting data and establishing effective BYOD polices.

When it comes to MDM and BYOD, approach your clients in a way that they can easily understand that adding this technology is going to help their business. If you present something familiar, like remote monitoring and management (RMM), which they might already have in place, and highlight the successes they have experienced with that technology, then you are ahead of the curve when it comes to implementing MDM. Remember, you will always need an endpoint for every device that is accessing company data, and with BYOD becoming more popular, that now includes mobile devices. If you are currently just monitoring servers and desktops, you should be thinking about adding MDM as well.

Raymond Vrabel is Continuum‘s Director of Technical Account Management and participates in product and service growth initiatives. He manages Continuum’s Technical Account Management team which supports over 3,400 partners worldwide. Vrabel has more than 15 years of experience in the IT industry, specializing in managed IT services, disaster recovery and cloud solutions. Follow him on Twitter: @rayvrabel.

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