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7 Tips for Pricing MDM Services: Page 2 of 2

Mobile device management deals require out-of-the-box thinking, so detach from vendor pricing models to take part in the MDM land grab. By Sandra Gittlen

4. Educate the buyer. Along with creating a mobility strategy, Barone offers his clients a reality check on the true cost of mobility. “SMBs often have no clue - it looks so much cheaper on paper to bring their own iPhones and Droids until they realize what it takes to manage those devices,” he says.

He finds companies ill-prepared for the expense of the hardware, software, services, and security awareness training it takes to establish a mature mobile environment. In fact, most are off by about 50 percent in their hard and soft cost estimates.

Barone prefers to sit down with C-level executives to discuss risk and finalize negotiations. “Shoot high because you can shorten the sales cycle when you get the CFO or someone else at the budgetary level to talk about the company's exposure,” he says.

5. Avoid the per-device pricing trap. Dave Sobel, director of the partner community for Ottawa, Ontario-based RMM software maker Level Platforms Inc., calls today's common per-device pricing model “scary.” Employees often have multiple devices, so asking IT to tally them up and attach a price to them can be gasp-inducing.

Sobel says per-device pricing will be unsustainable as the “Internet of Things” catches on and more objects become uniquely identifiable by an IPv6 address. Sobel, who counted 71 IP-enabled devices in his own home, says charging to manage each of those would be laughable. Instead, he believes a per-user or per-site model will dominate, taking the edge off of pricing discussions. His own company has made significant strides using these models.

6. Bundle services with products. SMBs need more than management products when setting their mobility strategy straight. Many seek guidance on “bring your own device” policies, aligning corporate regulations with mobile access and enforcement.

Creative Breakthroughs' Barone supplies advisory services beyond IT to HR and legal so that mobile access stays within the confines of corporate compliance. Together, they construct procedures for when employees leave the organization, such as recovering data, wiping devices, and shutting down network access. Barone says this elevates the discussion beyond the muck of per-device tabulations to value-added expertise.

7. Get creative on your deals. May Mitchell, vice president of channel sales at MDM developer Fiberlink Communications Corp., in Blue Bell, Pa., encourages MSPs to move away from standard deal-making. “Most IT departments are really tight on budget, so MSPs have to get creative in how they charge them,” Mitchell says. For instance, they could bundle services and products and offer a monthly fee. If the customer can't pay an up-front cost, offer them installments, she suggests.

It's a lesson Fiberlink learned firsthand with its MaaS360 cloud MDM platform. Upon feedback from customers and MSPs, the company added flexibility to its pricing, including user-based options. Instead of counting per device, Fiberlink factors each employee as having 2.5 devices. Mitchell adds that MSPs are able to buy bulk licenses and carve them up for their clients as they see fit.

Bitzer Mobile also subscribes to a per-user approach. “Keeping an inventory of all the devices a user has is too complicated. Our goal is to simplify and take the burden off of IT,” Khaitan says.

But not all MDM companies are the same, so the onus is on MSPs to either push back on vendors or assume some of the up-front costs for their clients. English agrees that MSPs have to take charge and do what's best for the client. In fact, he even mixes up MDM solutions to improve pricing. For instance, his firm will work with SMBs to prioritize devices and then split them between high-end management provided by a platform such as Good Technology (which can cost $100 per device per month), and AirWatch, which is more affordable at $4 per device per month. He also explains that while a client might prefer on-premises solutions, they are more expensive and more labor intensive. And for companies that want all-in-one mobility pricing, the company offers a lifecycle protection model where, for a certain amount a month, the device, management, and other features are bundled into a single monthly fee.

MSPs, according to English, should realize that MDM is a “think about it” sale - not for the client, but for the MSP itself.

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