A recent announcement from mobility management vendor Tangoe, Inc. covering a deal the company put in place with Canadian wireless carrier Rogers Communications could be another big step forward to carriers assuming the pivotal role in mobility. Historically, carriers have just carried, the equivalent of being the big dump pipe, albeit with voice mail. I have been arguing for some time that the carriers should become telecommunications and networking solutions providers, akin to integrators - and that's really what the deal here is about.
Tangoe offers a variety of MDM, MAM, TEM, and related products and services. Only 10% of their business at present is with carriers; the remainder is selling solutions to enterprises who, as they also have historically done, generally bring mobility solutions in-house - buy software, set up management servers and consoles, etc. I have also argued that owning such resources is far from strategic, as just about any firm can today do the same, and we have over 100 MDM vendors alone to choose from. Sure, mobility operations and management remains a rapidly-evolving field, but I'd put it in the realm of air conditioning and comfy chairs in the reception area - gotta haves, but offering little competitive advantage. My rule is that anything falling into that category is an excellent candidate for outsourcing.
So, would you buy mobility management solutions from your carrier? Yes, depending upon your carrier, I think you would. The carriers already offer mission-critical services. They understand the importance of reliability, capacity, and the nature of a competitive marketplace. And, with that desire to move away from big dumb pipe, mobility services fit quite nicely into their overall strategies. One phone call; get handsets and other devices, device management, applications management, information management (containerization in Tangoe's case), expense management, and on and on. I also asked Rogers about the possibility of managed Wi-Fi - and they have that, too. One-stop shopping always has enormous appeal, even in technology.
We clearly don't have a global trend here yet - but I think we will. The carriers won't just carry your traffic, but also a broad line of products, services, and solutions that will appeal to businesses and other organizations from small to (perhaps especially) multinationals.